As we approach the end of the year, chances are, you’ll be enjoying some much-needed couch time. After a couple of weeks of that, you may even entertain some guests over the Christmas period. Whatever your motivation, it’s never a bad idea to upgrade your TV.
Televisions are one of those technologies that are on a constant improvement curve, and the second you purchase one, you end your research into new models. If your display is 4 to 5 years old, then it really is worth considering what new, as TVs really have come a long way in a relatively short period fo time.
Even if your lounge room investment is still paying dividends, it may be time to upgrade that display in the rumpus or bedroom. Looking at new displays in 2020 presents a temptation to lean too far into the future, with 8K displays lowering in price considerably, but even with the recent sales at Black Friday and Cyber Monday, are still likely to be out of the price range of many.
If your short-list of must-haves includes 4K, HDR, Alexa support, then pay attention, as I break down my thoughts of the 65″ Q8 from Hisense after spending a few weeks with it.
It’s hard to mess up a black rectangle
It’s pretty difficult to mess up the design of a TV, with them all being large, flat black slabs of glass and Hisense certainly deliver that.
When we look with a little more nuance, we can see the designers at Hisense have decided to place the glass on the front of the panel, leaving a recessed border to surround the panel, rather than have the edges of the glass, surrounded with a frame as with many others. It’s a unique design touch that doesn’t make a lot of difference when you’re watching content, but is worth noting.
Personally I don’t love TVs with silver framing and thankfully Hisense avoid that mistake here, black helps from the picture and helps the colours pop.
One area where designers seem to be set free is on the stand, with almost every different manufacturer offering a different design approach. With this 65″ TV, the legs are robust to support the display, but importantly are close enough together, to enable the TV to fit on most low-line TV units. We have seen some place their leg mounts and therefore the position of the legs, close to the extreme outside of the display, which can make it too wide for some tables or entertainment units.
The back of the TV features a now familiar finish for Hisense, a crosshatch pattern that’s visually interesting to look at, however in most homes will never be seen after the installation date. The TV as a whole is not paper thin like the latest OLEDs, but even if you wall-mounted the display, the width is unlikely to be a problem.
Finally on the bottom of the display, you’ll find an embedded speaker. This is well integrated into the display, which works to serve as a mini sound bar, a few better option than mounting TVs beside the display as some have in the past (looking at you Sony Bravia).
How does it perform ?
When it comes to features the Hisense Q8 has lots to offer. To start, its a QLED panel with full-array local dimming, this means the colours and the black levels are fantastic, particularly noticeable at night, when the ambient light is low, you see black, not greys that distract you from the experience.
During the day you may find the TV competing with the light in a sunlit room and that’s where the bright 1000-nit peak brightness really shows it’s strength in offering an image you can easily see in any conditions and during my time with it, I never found that I had to pump the brightness anywhere close to max.
Next, there’s the Smooth Motion Rate of 200Hz, which is great on two fronts. Not only does this make fast moving sports smooth as silk, but it also offers the same experience during gaming, something I put to the test with the new Xbox Series X. While the TV doesn’t support the latest HDMI 2.1 that’d deliver 120Hz gaming, it does offer a fantastic gaming experience.
In 2020, we all wish that more of our content was available in 4K, but unfortunately many content sources, particularly free-to-air TV and even much of YouTube, is still delivered in 1080p, or even less. This is where the quality of your TVs upscaler makes the world of difference. Hisense use a 4K AI Upscaler and that means that it analyses the content and compares it against similar content and the works its magic to optimise the image, frame-by-frame to deliver the best possible quality and remove those harsh jagged edges.
As someone who’s watched a lot of 4K content now, it is still obvious to me when the source material is of lower quality, but Hisense’s upscaling tech is some of the best I’ve seen from a TV at this price point.
Next is the software. Hisense run VIDAA 4 OS on this TV which is faster and more capable than previous generations. The UI is fast and fluid (Hisense says around 50% faster than V3), easy to get around and launching apps is quick, which makes the experience of jumping between apps, quite a good one. Personally I switch between Netflix, YouTube and Foxtel Now fairly rapidly with an occasional duck out to OTA broadcast for half an hour here or there.
Something I was really impressed with, is the ability to turn on the TV by pressing one of the smart app buttons on the remote. With the TV in standby Mode, you simply press the dedicated Netflix or YouTube buttons on the remote and in just a couple of seconds, the TV has powered on and the app is usable. Love that. Taking a two-step process and making it a simple one-button function is just a really slick user experience.
Stand out features of this display.
Remote Now Mobile control app
Hisense’s RemoteNow mobile app offers owners the ability to control the TV from your phone. Far too often I’ve searched for the TV remote, given up and used my mobile to control a TV. This now becomes almost my default option to drive TVs, so it’s great to see Hisense support this.
The app enables you to turn the TV on and off, change channels, volume and switch apps, as well as send voice commands to Amazon’s Alexa, share audio and video streams to the TV. When navigating, you can use an on-screen plus pad to navigate the UI, or my personal preference is to use the trackpad with swipe and tap gestures.
Once you’ve had a voice assistant built into a TV, it’s really hard to go back. Hisense have integrated Alexa via the RemoteNOW app. While this implementation is an extra step than simply yelling at your TV from across the room, it does allow you to control a piece of hardware (your TV) from anywhere in your house. I love being able to turn on or off the TV, switch channels etc.
If you are still a big TV watcher, then you’ll love the 7-day guide and seamless catch-up service from the Australian free-to-air networks. When you hit a channel with shows that are available on-demand, you’ll see the prompt to hit the green button on the remote and launch into that experience.
In terms of hardware features I got 2 remotes in the box. The larger remote has a premium metal finish and features Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video and Media buttons. The second remote control is shorter in length and wider, and made of plastic which lacks the same high-end feel, but makes up for it with more media buttons. This remote features a lot more dedicated buttons, including YouTube Music, Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, Stan, iView and a general Apps button.
What’s very different is a dedicated Art button, which takes you into Vidaa Art which turns your TV into an artwork, thanks to vetted content from popular user-created art site, Deviant Art.
In terms of inputs, there’s 4x HDMI ports, with 1 Audio Return Channel, great for new audio devices like the Sonos Arc. There’s a couple of USB-A ports, which I’d love to see move to USB-C in the next generation. There’s also an optical out port, which will allow you to connect to most surround sound systems, or even a sound bar. There’s an Ethernet port but most of us use WiFI, of which supports 802.11AC on both 2.4 and 5Ghz bands. There’s Bluetooth connectivity, screen mirroring, a web-browser and more.
Not everything’s perfect
When it comes to the app support on this TV, Hisense have most of the big names on offer. There’s Netflix, YouTube Amazon Prime Video, Foxtel Now, Stan, ABC iView, SBS On Demand. They also have Facebook Watch and Plex, however the app store is a bit of a disaster, full of apps and services you’ve never heard of.
When you chose to build your own TV OS, then you need to campaign to app developers that your platform matters. Right now Samsung and LG have done a decent job, as they hold a significant market share. Any TV using Android TV also usually gets new apps first, as the number of devices in market is meaningful and worth developer resources to build for.
Hisense are certainly a strong player in the Australian TV market, but a recent app release like Binge is not yet available on this display, nor is Apple TV+ or Disney+ which could be deal breakers for some. It is possible to work around some of these limitations using screen mirroring from a mobile, but that’s not quite the same as native app support.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
The Hisense ULED 4K Series Q8 is available now from retailers like JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Bing Lee and Harvey Norman.
Available in 55″, 65″, 75″ and a massive 85″ size, the RRP ranges from A$1,799 to A$5,499 with the 65″ model I reviewed, landing at A$2,499. If you look around you can find it a couple hundred less than that and with Christmas coming up in just a few weeks, there’s sure to be bargains to be had.
In terms of price, I feel you’re getting really great value for money here, with the TV offering fantastic quality, in a design that looks great and at a price that’s on-point. Right now at JB, they’re throwing in 3 months of free Foxtel Now, but there are limited numbers available.
The Hisense 65Q8 TV does exceptionally well in terms of picture quality and performance. With full-array local dimming, 1000-nit peak brightness and Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos support, the TV ticks some very important checkboxes for potential buyers.
The range of apps built-in certainly met most of my needs, but you will need to check if your streaming service of choice is supported. If you’re a gamer looking for a new display, I can definitely recommend this TV, as the Xbox Series X 4K gaming experience is fantastic, although it does lack that illusive HDMI 2.1 port for 120Hz gaming.
The remote app is insanely helpful and something I expect most owners to find benefit from regularly.
When it comes to design, the TV looks great and if you use it on a stand, I think this stand is one of the best designs. If you chose to wall-mount it, it is decent at 32.1kg for a 65″ TV and is 89mm deep, fairly chunky by today’s standards. Just get a wall-mount that’s capable of supporting these parameters and it’ll look great on your wall.
Overall I’ve really enjoy my time with the TV over the past few weeks and have no problem recommending it for those looking for a new display this Christmas.
- Image quality
- App support
- Remote Control