(Pocket-lint) - The 10-inch difference between a 65-inch TV and a 75-inch TV is more than just a measurement. It marks the difference - at least in any fairly regular-sized living room - between just watching television and stepping into the world of home cinema. Unfortunately for home cinema fans, though, the step up to a 75-inch TV is usually also the point at which their wallets cough, splutter and die.
Today, though, the traditional mega-screen price barrier is about to fall. For the Hisense 75M7900 is an unbelievable £2,500. That's less than half the price of, say, Sony's 75-inch KD-75XD9405. In fact, it's even substantially less than the prices of a number of this year's 65-inch TVs.
You don't just get a bog-standard 75-inch screen for your money either; you get a native 4K resolution, HDR support, and even a few smart TV features. Surely such a TV has to be too good to be true, right?
Hisense 75M7900 4K TV review: Design
The 75M7900 isn't an especially glamorous TV by today's standards. It's just a massive rectangle, really, with a pair of surprisingly insubstantial feet attached to each end of its bottom edge - meaning you'll need a seriously wide piece of furniture to sit it on. The build quality is pretty robust, though, and the screen frame is fairly thin considering how much screen it supports.
Connectivity is outstanding for the 75M7900's price. Its four HDMI and three USB ports match what you get on high-end TVs this year, while its built-in Wi-Fi supports streaming from DLNA devices as well as access to Hisense's online service.
This service has expanded nicely over the past few months, and now offers a solid number of the UK's most widely used video content apps. Amazon and Netflix are both there in their 4K (although not HDR) incarnations, and you also get BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Deezer, Wuaki.tv, Viewster and Chilli Cinema among others.
It's a pity, though, that at the time of writing the 75M7900 doesn't support the ITV Hub, All4 or My5. Hopefully Hisense's localisation team is working on a more comprehensive UK Catch up TV solution as we speak. Saying that, however, such absences aren't uncommon - with even the top-end Samsung KS9500 having some gaps too.
Hisense 75M7900 4K TV review: Limp brightness for HDR
A scan of the 75M7900's screen specifications reveals a couple of concerns. First, pictures are illuminated by LEDs ranged around the screen's edges, rather than placed directly behind it. This could be an issue given how far the edge lighting has to travel on such a large TV - and it's the reason a lot of other 75-inch panels aren't illuminated this way, hence their cost.
The other concern is that the screen's brightness is only rated at around 400 nits - a fairly paltry number for a TV that claims to be capable of playing back HDR content. That's not exactly HDR when TVs with a UHD Premium badge are upwards of 1,000 nits; indeed the Samsung KS9500 is around a full 1,000nite brighter than this Hisense.
The edge LED lighting is supported by local dimming, though, where different segments of the LEDs can output their own independent light levels to improve contrast.
Also, while 400 nits raises questions about the 75M7900's HDR performance, it can actually be helpful to its standard dynamic range performance, making it less likely than it would be with a very bright TV that you'll see backlight clouding and striping problems caused by the edge LED local dimming.
Hisense 75M7900 4K TV review: Standard delivery
The 75M7900 supports 3D playback - and actually its large size could be helpful in boosting 3D's immersive effects. As usual, though, no 3D glasses ship for free with the TV, so we couldn't test the 75M7900's 3D efforts.
After installing a required HDR firmware update from USB (the same update should be available for public download by the end of September), we dived straight in with a selection of Ultra HD Blu-rays to see how well the 75M7900 worked with the highest quality source currently available. And sadly, if not surprisingly, we weren't exactly blown away.
The main problem, predictably, is that the 75M7900 just isn't bright enough. It only delivers a slight sense of extra brightness with HDR's peak elements, rather than elevating them to the sort of ‘real world' levels you see with the best HDR TVs. There's also a marked loss of detail in the brightest HDR areas.
The dark end of HDR's expanded brightness spectrum is relatively limited too, thanks to the way parts of the picture that should look black instead look a fairly milky grey as the 75M7900 tries to add more brightness without having the backlight controls to deliver this brightness locally enough.
You can improve black levels with HDR if you activate the local dimming system (which, unusually, defaults to off with HDR sources). But doing this sees subtle details going AWOL in dark areas, as well as a drop in the intensity of the image's HDR peaks. Peaks which were already, remember, only barely worthy of the name.
It's worth adding, too, that the 75M7900 suffers with quite marked colour banding issues when fed Ultra HD Blu-rays in HDR from Panasonic's UB900 deck. This banding mercifully disappears, though, when using an Xbox One S or Samsung K8500 for UHD BD duties.
Hisense 75M7900 4K TV review: Without HDR
If you reckon you can live without HDR, though, the 75M7900 becomes a much more accomplished proposition. Its standard dynamic range images look far more balanced in terms of both colour and contrast, with no part of the picture drawing undue attention to itself to the detriment of the rest.
Detail levels look more consistently high with native 4K content too, as there's none of the tonal clipping in bright areas that you get with HDR.
Colours look more natural in SDR mode too, and the screen's backlight handling is greatly improved, with minimal trouble from general clouding or haloing around bright objects.
The local dimming system becomes surprisingly effective with SDR too, delivering deeper black levels than we would have expected for the 75M7900's money without leaving bright parts of predominantly dark pictures looking dull and lifeless.
Even better, the local dimming achieves this while throwing up only the occasional faint distracting bar of light around bright objects, and without causing heavy loss of detail in dark SDR areas.
Given how consistently enjoyable SDR playback is on the 75M7900, we would suggest partnering it with either the Panasonic UB900 or the Xbox One S Ultra HD Blu-ray players, since these allow you to turn HDR off while Samsung's K8500 does not. This means the Panasonic and Xbox players enable you to enjoy the 4K part of UHD Blu-rays on the 75M7900 without having to struggle with the HDR part.
While the 75M7900's handling of SDR images is strong enough to make Hisense's giant TV look like a bargain despite its HDR shortcomings, there are a couple of significant SDR weaknesses to point out.
First, the set's upscaling of HD sources is rather basic. It adds detail, yes, but without any great understanding or awareness of context, meaning the extra sharpness and detail can sometimes look rather noisy and forced.
The other consistent weakness of the 75M7900 is its motion handling, which finds fast-moving objects and camera pans routinely looking soft compared with the strong sharpness you get with relatively static (especially native 4K) content.
Hisense 75M7900 4K TV review: Ample sonics
The 75M7900 gets back to pleasantly surprising with its sonics. Its speakers produce more volume and dynamic range than its slender design and affordable price would lead you to expect, and these strengths are delivered without the sound becoming harsh or cramped at high volumes.
The scale of the soundstage actually manages to feel like a match for the vastness of the 75-inch images, and you couldn't really ask for more than that from such an affordable giant.
Provided you accept and are prepared to work within the 75M7900’s limitations - namely that it can’t really do serious justice to HDR images that it’s supposed to be capable of handling - it’s actually a much better TV than you might expect for the money.
As such the 75M7900 puts Hisense on the UK TV map in fairly spectacular fashion, and should be enough to cause the more established brands to start looking nervously over their shoulders.
Huge scale without huge brightness will be plenty good enough for many who want the biggest screen available for £2,500, though, which is exactly the accolade achieved here.