(Pocket-lint) - Although relatively new to the UK TV marketplace, Hisense has already established itself as a strong budget brand. With its 75U9A, though, it's out to make a case for itself as a high-end force, too.
The 75U9A's huge 75-inch screen gets the ball rolling, but it's the screen's startling specifications that make it stand out from the pack. It uses a direct lighting system, where the LEDs sit directly behind the screen for the utmost control. Plus it happens to be the brightest TV ever released...
- 4x HDMI in, 2x USB multimeda port
- LAN and Wi-Fi network options
The 75U9A's design is a mix of reassuring robustness and gentle glamour. The robustness comes from its unusually deep rear and relatively wide frame by today's standards, combined with fairly heavy metallic build. The glamour comes chiefly from the unusual stand, which combines a bold, angled-forward, full-width shiny bar with a transparent 'lean on' rear support.
The screen leans slightly back, which might not be to everyone's tastes. Also, the full-width front part of the stand requires the TV to be placed on a very wide piece of furniture. Provided you can live with these issues, though, you're good to go.
The 75U9A's connectivity is good for the most part. The only disappointment is that just two of the four HDMIs are built to the HDMI 2.0 standard required to deliver 4K HDR at up to 60Hz.
- HDR Support: HLG, HDR10
- Processing Engine: Ultra Motion Plus and HDR Supreme
The 75U9A boasts some seriously impressive picture specifications for an LCD TV. For starters, it places its LEDs directly behind the screen rather than around its edge – a configuration that pretty much always delivers a superior contrast performance.
Even better, the H75U9A claims to offer local dimming across a stunning 1056 separate zones. In other words, more than a thousand sections can be made to output different amounts of light simultaneously. This has the potential to deliver unprecedented contrast for an LCD TV. After all, 1056 zones is more than twice as many as there are in even Samsung's stunning Q9FN flagship TV.
The 75U9A's ground-breaking numbers don't stop there, either. It also delivers a measured brightness of around 2700 nits – which is, again, substantially higher than the 2000 nits of brightness achieved by Samsung's Q9FN (the AV world's previous brightest TV). Brightness is not everything – but it's certainly important in today's increasingly high dynamic range (HDR) TV world.
The 75U9A's use of Quantum Dots to create its colours bodes well for its HDR performance too. These aren't the same metal-clad Quantum Dots deployed in Samsung's QLED TVs, but they still offer potentially wider colour performance than the usual LCD TV filter-based colour system.
On the high dynamic range front, the 75U9A can handle both the HDR10 industry standard HDR format, and the newer, broadcast-friendly HLG system (as used by the BBC for its World Cup streams). There's no support for the 'premium' Dolby Vision or HDR10+ formats, though, which provide extra scene by scene information to help TVs out.
Hisense has provided motion processing for removing judder and blur, as well as noise reduction systems. Finally, its Game picture preset reduces the amount of time the panel takes to render pictures down to a respectable (though not amazing) 45ms.
- VIDAA and Freeview Play
Despite its rather fancy-sounding VIDAA name, the smart system on the 75U9A is pretty unspectacular. Its interface looks dated and drab, and it offers way fewer apps than most 'big name' smart TV systems.
It runs reasonably slickly, though, thanks to a quad core processor to see things tick along, and while not overburdened with apps, it offers many of the key ones that UK TV owners will seek. These include Netflix (in 4K and HDR), Rakuten TV, Amazon Prime Video (also in 4K HDR), YouTube (again in 4K HDR), and Freeview Play. As usual, Freeview Play plays host to the catch-up apps for all of the UK's main terrestrial broadcast platforms.
The 75U9A's ground-breaking brightness definitely is not just some lab measurement trick – it translates into real-world picture performance. Bright HDR pictures look exceptionally intense, standing out against their standard dynamic range counterparts more extremely than on any other TV.
The extra brightness also helps the 75U9A deliver huge intensity in HDR image elements such as gleaming metal, twinkling stars, and glorious sunsets. Having so much inherent brightness to its name means this TV can provide impressive amounts of subtle shading and toning details in HDR peaks.
Despite delivering ground-breaking brightness, the 75U9A also manages some pretty good black levels by LCD standards. Thanks to its 1000-plus local dimming zones, the screen is able to keep dark areas looking convincingly dark even when they're sharing the screen with really bright elements. This gives pictures enough contrast range to ensure you can't accuse the 75U9A of only being interested in the bright end of high dynamic range's expanded light spectrum.
There's a surprising amount of detail in dark areas, too – thanks again, presumably, to having so many dimming zones. And while the 75U9A ultimately might not outperform Samsung's Q9FN models overall, it is less likely to leave bright elements of mostly very dark shots looking a little dim.
Other strings to the 75U9A's bow find its pictures watchable from slightly wider viewing angles than most rivals, and motion looking surprisingly natural and clean if you watch 24 frames-a-second movies using the Film motion setting. Note, though, that the TV's other motion modes are much less effective, suffering with distracting processing side effects.
While the 75U9A's pictures have exceptional immediate impact thanks to their brightness and contrast, longer-term viewing exposes some shortcomings.
The worst of these is the way colours can look slightly washed out during HDR viewing. It's as if, despite using Quantum Dot colour technology, the set's colour range just isn't in step with the screen's huge brightness output, resulting in the brightness overwhelming colour saturation.
The 75U9A also fails to deliver the sort of crispness and snap the best 4K TVs can manage. Pictures look better than HD, but they seldom look emphatically 4K.
High definition sources aren't upscaled to the 75U9A's native 4K resolution particularly brilliantly, either. There's some stepping in diagonal and curved edges, and any noise in HD source images tends to be exaggerated by the detail upgrade rather than removed as it is by the best upscaling engines.
Finally, while the 75U9A's contrast is good, especially for such a phenomenally bright TV, there are TVs out there that better it for black level performance. All OLED TVs, for instance, deliver much deeper black colours in dark scenes.
Comparisons with OLED sets also highlight how, despite having more than a thousand local dimming zones, there can still sometimes be blooms of extraneous light around stand out bright objects. This blooming can stretch a good few centimetres beyond bright objects, so that although the blooming is generally quite faint, it can sometimes make images with a strong mix of light and dark elements look quite unstable. The blooming also sometimes distractingly leaks into the black bars above and below wide aspect ratio films.
Sony's XF9005 and, especially, Samsung's Q9FN, suffer less with this sort of blooming, despite having fewer dimming zones. In fact, Samsung's Q9FN scarcely suffers with it at all, while also delivering much more consistently deep black levels. This proves that it's not necessarily the sheer number of dimming zones that counts, rather how they're implemented and used.
The soundbar attached to the 75U9A's bottom edge proves to be more potent than it looks. It's got more than enough power to propel action movie soundtracks into your living room with excellent punch, dynamism and directness for a built-in TV sound solution.
It's not just about power, though. It's also hi-fi enough to sound decent with music, and bring out lots of detail in movie mixes despite underpinning its sound with solid amounts of distortion-free bass. Voices, too, sound rich and rounded.
The very highest trebles can start to sound a bit thin at extreme volumes. Overall this is one TV that you won't need to rush to add an external soundbar.
The 75U9A certainly makes a statement. By breaking new ground for brightness and local dimming zones, it sends a strong message that Hisense is far more than just a budget brand.
In the end, however, the 75U9A doesn't quite have the processing power and colour richness to make the most of its brightness and dimming zone advantages, leaving the door open to superior performers such as the Samsung Q9FN and the Sony XD9405.
The 75U9A is still worth considering, though, especially if you can get it for an even more sensible price... and have enough space in your living room!
This high-end Samsung TV is 10 inches smaller than the 75U9A. It's not quite as bright either. However, it delivers the best black level performance of any LED TV to date, as well as spectacularly rich and dynamic colours. It also upscales HD sources much more effectively, and makes native 4K sources look much sharper.
Although it's barely half as bright as the Hisense and features far fewer dimming zones, the quality of Sony's video processing ensures that this telly delivers beautifully sharp, detailed, colour- and contrast-rich pictures that still hold up against the big-screen competition.