Hisense U8QF TV Review

A living room workhorse...

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £999.00

What is the Hisense U8?

The Hisense U8QF (55U8QFTUK) is the company’s top of the range 4K ULED TV for 2020. The U8 uses a 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) 8-bit + FRC VA panel which incorporates a full-array direct LED backlight with quantum dot technology and 132 independent local dimming zones controlled by an advanced algorithm. There’s support for Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ plus a JBL Audio sound system. The U8 is available in 55- and 65-inch screen sizes.

Related
: What is HDR10+?

The U8QF uses a quad-core processor and has a claimed peak brightness of over 1,000nits. It supports wide colour gamut (DCI-P3/Rec.2020) and high dynamic range (HDR10, Hybrid Log-Gamma, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision).

Related
: What is Dolby Vision?

The U8QF has a JBL Audio sound system based on stereo speakers and 20W of amplification. It also supports Dolby Atmos, with internal decoding built-in and an immersive experience created through the application of psychoacoustic processing.

Related
: What is Dolby Atmos?

Hisense uses its own VIDAA U 4.0 smart platform, which while relatively simple is clean, intuitive and responsive. It offers support for a number of streaming services, including YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime.

So with all these features at a budget price point, can the Hisense produce the goods? Let’s find out…

Design, Connections and Control


The Hisense U8QF boasts the company’s usual high standards of build quality and is gunmetal and black with a plastic and metal finish. The TV sits on a central v-shaped stand that provides solid support and doesn't require a very wide surface for installation. There is a groove down the rear of the panel which accommodates cable management, routing cables from both sides of the rear panel down to the stand. This makes sure that no cabling is seen when looking at the TV from the front.

Hisense 55U8QF

The thickness of the TV is much larger than the slimline OLEDs and edge Lit LCD TVs, but this accommodates the Full-Array-Local-Dimming (FALD) backlight, and as we don’t watch our TVs from the side, the extra thickness has no impact other than wall mounting. To the bottom of the panel on the front is the slim soundbar which boasts sound provided by JBL through a small badge on the left end of the bar. The overall gunmetal grey finish looks contemporary and gives the impression that the U8QF is a more expensive model.

Hisense 55U8QF

The connections are at the rear and placed sideways and rearwards facing. Sideways you'll find a CI (common interface slot), dual RF tuners, two USB 2.0 ports and three HDMI 2.0b inputs. Rearwards is HDMI 4, an optical digital output and an Ethernet port. There’s also built-in Bluetooth and dual-band Wi-Fi for wireless connections.

Hisense 55U8QF

The supplied remote control is a thin silver metal affair with black control keys and white direct access keys for streaming services. The layout is logical and intuitive with the main buttons towards the centre position. It fits neatly in the hand and is easy to use with good feedback from button presses and the build quality is excellent for this price point.

  The overall gunmetal grey finish looks contemporary and gives the impression that the U8QF is a more expensive model

Measurements

Out of the Box

We do all our testing towards the industry standards for TV and film content, so we can see it as it is intended to be seen. All TVs must have at least one picture preset out of the box that can meet those standards so content can be viewed correctly, as it was mastered. Usually, the most accurate picture modes will be cinema, movie, ISF, THX or Filmmaker Mode, depending on what is available on the particular TV. On the Hisense, we found Cinema Night to be the most accurate picture mode, with gamma at BT1886 and panel brightness set for our testing room.

Hisense 55U8QF

Looking at the greyscale we can see that as the scale gets brighter, red dips in energy and blue hovers around the 100% point, with green eventually getting high by around 5%. Our DeltaE errors are under the visible threshold of three until around 60% stimulus, before rising to around a maximum of six at 100%. That means we can see a slight cyan tint to white in the brighter end of the greyscale. This is a slight tint which will not affect the viewing of TV and film content for the vast majority of viewers. Indeed, it is much more preferable than the completely blue whites in the Standard picture mode. Gamma tracks slightly high from 10% to 80% stimulus which means it looks slightly darker than it should.

Hisense 55U8QF

The Rec.709 HD colour gamut coverage on the U8QF is also very good but has a slight cyan push because of the greyscale and this slightly shifts the colour points in the saturation chart towards cyan. When we correct the white point, the colours will move back to where they should be. These errors are also small enough to not be obvious during actual TV and Movie viewing in the Cinema Night preset out of the box.

Calibrated

The Hisense U8QF has a suite of calibration controls which should make it easy to get accurate results.

What we found was that the calibration controls were patchy in terms of what worked and what didn’t. While the recently reviewed U7QF has faultless calibration controls allowing us to dial in reference levels of accuracy, the U8QF was buggy and the 20-point white balance and gamma controls didn’t work at all on this review sample. This left us with the 2-point correction controls only and this proved to be incredibly coarse in applying inputs.

Hisense 55U8QF

Looking at the greyscale we did manage to flatten off the tracking and remove any visible errors. This means that our DeltaE errors ended up being two or below, which is below the visible threshold of three, so no visible errors at all in TV and Film content. Gamma tracking was also better than out of the box, but we couldn’t fine-tune this as the controls didn’t work. However, the end results were very good with no visible errors.

Hisense 55U8QF

The Rec.709 HD colour gamut results were also very good with just green and cyan showing hue errors at 100% saturation. All points from 75% saturation and below are there or thereabouts with DeltaE errors at 1.9 which is below the visible threshold of three and, as such, we didn’t see any colour issues or errors within TV and film content viewing.

 ... it wasn’t as accurate out of the box or as easy to calibrate as the previously reviewed U7QF

While some of the controls didn’t work thanks to a bug in this sample of the TV, we were still able to get accurately calibrated images from the Hisense U8QF, but it wasn’t as accurate out of the box or as easy to calibrate as the previously reviewed U7QF.

HDR Results

Once again, we used the most accurate HDR picture preset at D65 white and ran a series of measurements against various window sizes.

Hisense 55U8QF

We measured the Hisense U8QF peak brightness on a 10% window to be 1250 nits, but surprisingly this increased further at the 25% window size to just under 1500 nits. You will also notice that 1%, 2% and 5% window results are much lower and this is due to the local dimming algorithm anti-blooming kicking in with the smaller sizes of window. The full field 100% result was a sustained 625 nits.

Hisense 55U8QF

Looking at the PQ EOTF tracking to ST.2084 and we can see that the Hisense U8QF follows the standard up to 200 nits and then gets a little brighter before hard clipping at 1200 nits. The U8QF does the same with both 1000 and 4000 nits mastered content with no changes to the tone mapping. You will notice that at the darkest range of the chart the U8QF backlight is completely switched off, we will come back to this.

Hisense 55U8QF

The DCI-P3 within BT2020 results are also good with only a few errors in the saturation tracking mainly with magenta hue, green hue and red oversaturation. Plus, the gamut coverage doesn’t quite cover the full DCI-P3 gamut but we didn’t notice any obvious colour issues within HDR content we viewed.

Hisense 55U8QF

BT.2020 coverage measured in at 69% XY and 69% UV with P3 coming in at 94% XY and 94% UV.


Hisense 55U8QF

Performance


The Hisense U8QF is a 55-inch LED LCD TV which uses a Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight with 132 separate zones. (We counted 110 zones using a FALD counter, so 11 Vertical and 10 Horizontal, but the Czech specification for the U8QF claim 132 on their website. As we were counting the backlight was switching off completely at the end of each zone, so it is possible we missed one column on each axis). The panel uniformity was good with a slightly darker centre on a 5% full field slide and lighter edges. At brighter stimulus levels there was some mild dirty screen effect present and at 100% there were darker edges and corners. With content utilising one predominant colour and camera pans, we did see mild banding and dirty screen effect, which is a side effect of the technology used within the U8QF. While most of these issues were visible with test slides and torture scenes, for the vast majority of viewing they are not overly obvious.

  SDR viewing in a well-lit room is good out of the box on the Hisense U8QF 

Being a FALD set with 132 local dimming zones we expected there to be some issues with blooming and black bars. While there were occasions when bright objects in HDR content that were close to the black bars did light them up slightly, this was also subtle. It was much more noticeable watching in the dark and less so with ambient lighting present in the room, so how much this will distract you comes down to the environment and lighting you are viewing in. There are also instances of intense blooming present when bright objects are against a dark background and once again this is a limitation of the FALD technology and local dimming.

The algorithm used on the U8QF is also very aggressive and we did note that on some occasions, with some HDR content, the backlight would switch off completely in scenes that are supposed to be very dark. This was consistent and repeatable with scenes such as the ship entering the cave at the start of Chapter Three of Pan on the 4K UHD disc, where the backlight switches off completely a number of times. We also noted a number of times with HDR and Dolby Vision content that scene changes from dark to bright or vice-versa also triggered noticeable brightness pumping while the dimming tried to find the correct level. This was scene dependant and not something that happened all the time, but we will feed this back to Hisense as we feel more work is required with the dimming algorithm.

 ... the JBL system does provide a nice balanced response with clear vocals

The viewing angles of the U8QF are not great but are as expected from this type of LCD TV and when watching from the dead centre the image quality is good. We found that over 20 degrees off-axis is where the main gamma and colour shifts start to become very noticeable, so bear that in mind if your viewing room has seats that are off to the sides.

Motion was decent on the U8QF with no noticeable induced judder with 24fps material when Ultra Smooth Motion was switched off and applying pulldown. We also noted some obvious motion trailing behind objects and other artefacts with some fast-moving material. When using the Ultra Smooth Motion settings you see soap opera effect from the interpolation straight away and, as you apply higher settings, image artefacts such as false edges, trailing edges and image break up around fast-moving objects become much more noticeable. There are custom controls for Blur and Judder which you can experiment with for sports or other video content with fast movement, but for film and drama, we recommend switching it to off.

As we likewise mentioned with the U7QF review, the U8QF is best suited for living room duties where there is some ambient light present, or a bias light behind the screen to improve dim room viewing. Blacks are good but we did find that there was quite a bit of crush introduced when viewing in the dark which was less noticeable or apparent in a well-lit room. Viewing in the dark also highlighted issues with the local dimming being too aggressive with some content, especially HDR and Dolby Vision. So, just like the U7QF, this set is best used in a normal living room with some ambient light present.

 ... an impressive everyday workhorse with good image accuracy and a nice bright HDR image that many LCD peers at this price point simply can’t match

SDR viewing in a well-lit room is good out of the box on the Hisense U8QF with excellent dynamics and a nice depth to the sharp and detailed image. Colours are also decent with very good skin tones and facial detail, while primary colours are well saturation with excellent tonality and gradations. Motion is also decent with 24fps film content when Ultra Smooth Motion is turned off. Terrestrial TV channel hopping is also good with a nicely balanced image when you stick to the HD channels, nothing looks good in standard definition. Video processing is also decent with scaling which doesn’t introduce any obvious edge enhancements or ringing to fine lines as long as you switch off all processing features. We also didn’t see any noise reduction being applied behind the scenes either, which is good. Images from SD 576i could be better and the scaling was less effective here.

HDR viewing is impressive in a well-lit room with good dynamics and no visible issues with black crush for the most part. I waded through the usual tricky test discs as well as my favourite test scenes and the U8QF produced detailed specular highlights and some really nice looking mid-tones given the number of nits it has under the hood. The tone mapping was also fairly decent as the Hisense technically can cope with 1000 nits without too much assistance and 4000 nits content, like our well worn Pan UHD disc, also produced some very good specular highlight detail, although there was some detail clipping at the very brightest reaches.

 ... we did note that on occasions, with some HDR content, the backlight would switch off completely

Gaming was also good on the Hisense 55U8QF with an input lag of 17ms in both SDR and HDR modes as measured by the Murideo Seven Generator. HDR gaming was also good, however, there are no HDMI 2.1 features available on the Hisense like VRR or ALLM.

Smart TV is the company’s own VIDAA U4 system which we found to be very easy to use and it is responsive. You have all of the major apps such as Netflix, Rakuten, Prime Video, BritBox and YouTube and in 4K HDR for those capable. There is no Disney+ or Apple TV+ but we don’t think that will be a major stumbling block for most consumers. It can feel a little slow when compared to the very best out there, but not enough to make it a major concern.

The TV tuner also has Freeview Play on board with all the UK terrestrial catch-up services available from the BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Five, plus some Freeview Play content discovery pages.

 ... the U8QF produced very detailed specular highlights and some really nice looking mid-tones given the number of nits it has under the hood

Finally, the soundbar offers good sound quality which is a step up on the normal speakers on TVs in this sector of the market. There is no deep thundering bass for movie playback, but the JBL system does provide a nice balanced response with clear vocals and dialogue as well as a nice weight that can be expected from such a bar. Stereo separation was very good with an expansive sound field when fed a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, just don’t expect full-on surround sound. Overall, it is a decent sound system for a TV, but you can obviously add a much higher performing offboard system for a little more outlay.

Verdict

The good

  • Decent out of the box accuracy
  • Very good calibrated performance
  • 1250 nits HDR peak brightness
  • 132 zone FALD backlight
  • HDR10+ & Dolby Vision
  • Dolby Atmos
  • JBL speaker is good
  • Smart TV is responsive
  • Very good build quality

The not so good

  • Aggressive local dimming
  • Black crush
  • Some calibration controls non-responsive on this sample
  • Some motion issues using Ultra Smooth engine
  • Blooming and bright bars in dim viewing conditions
  • Viewing angles are poor

Hisense U8QF TV Review


If you are looking for an LED LCD TV for dim room critical movie viewing the Hisense U8QF is not the TV for you and you will probably need to search out a higher-priced LCD model or consider an OLED. It is not an enthusiasts TV and there are better options if you can spend a little more.

If you are looking for an everyday living room workhorse that has good gaming performance, nice design and decent SDR and HDR viewing in a bright, normal living room, then the Hisense U8QF is a compelling proposition.

HDR peak brightness and full-field numbers are impressive and in a normal living room that offers excellent levels of dynamics and a rich colourful performance with most content. Only really dark scenes will catch out the U8QF and its aggressive local dimming. SDR content from everyday TV viewing is also very good with a fairly accurate image out of the box with very nice looking colours and no obvious issues.

When you move the viewing to night time and the lights are turned down you start to notice more of the inherent issues of LCD and using the technology in such dark surroundings. There are issues with image bleed around bright objects against dark backgrounds and the black bars of movies light up when bright objects are in the frame. The local dimming is also noticeably more aggressive when viewing in the dark with brightness pumping in some scene changes, as well as the backlight switching off completely with tricky dark scenes. Viewing angles are also an issue, as they are with most LCD sets of this nature, so make sure your viewing is head-on for the best possible image quality.

Overall, the Hisense 55U8QF is an impressive everyday workhorse with good image accuracy and a nice bright HDR image that many LCD peers at this price point simply can’t match. There are issues but most of these can be mitigated when used in bright surroundings and not used for critical movie viewing. We hope Hisense take on board the feedback within the review as some work on the dimming algorithm could see it producing even more tempting value for money.

Keep it in a normal living room with good lighting and the image flaws are far less noticeable and the performance on offer is good. If that sounds like what you are looking for then the U8QF comes recommended for living room duties and is how we have scored it.
Recommended

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

.
.
.
7

Screen Uniformity

.
.
.
7

Colour Accuracy

.
.
8

Greyscale Accuracy

.
.
8

Video Processing

.
.
.
.
6

Picture Quality

.
.
8

SDR Picture Quality

.
.
8

HDR Picture Quality

.
.
8

Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box

.
.
.
7

Picture Quality Calibrated

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Smart Features

.
.
.
.
6

Build Quality

.
.
8

Ease Of Use

.
.
.
7

Value for Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
.
7
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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