Hisense Vision TV: Australian Review

Transplanting Google's mobile and tablet operating system from its ancestral home on a touchscreen slate onto a non-touch big-screen display is never a seamless process, but it certainly has potential. Hisense's Vision TV is an affordable mid-range LED running on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and, despite a few annoyances that slightly detract from the overall experience, it's the best Google-on-your-TV experience I've seen so far.

Apologies for the bright central flash in these photos, guys — I'm sure you know it's bloody hard to take photos of a giant shiny screen. The TV is much less 'washed out' than these images suggest. Read on for the full details. - Cam

What Is It?

Specifications
  • TV Type: Edge-Lit LED
  • TV Size: 40- to 65-inch
  • HDMI Ports: 4
  • USB Ports: 2
  • Smart TV: Yes, Android 4.2
  • Warranty: 3 Years

The Vision TV is Hisense's model number K390PA/D, available in a $1999 65-inch, $1299 55-inch, $999 50-inch, or $699 40-inch (non-3D) variant — I tested the 50-inch model. All Vision TVs are LED edge-lit, with an array of white LEDs around the screen's outer edge shining in through a series of reflective channels, evenly lighting the entire panel despite the bezel itself being quite thin.

The TV itself is not especially thin — it's certainly not as chunky as my Pioneer plasma, but at 62mm thick it's not the slimmest model on the market. Its bezel is beautifully slim though, and it's barely thicker at the base than on its piano black sides and its bright brushed metal top. The two tone effect isn't gaudy, primarily because it's restrained.

Hisense's stand for the Vision TV isn't a stand as much as it is two individual feet, each of which attaches to the TV independently with two of the four supplied Phillips screws. The feet are obviously inspired by another major TV brand's previous-year models — which brand I can't remember precisely at the moment, though — and they're both sturdy and unobtrusive while remaining attractive. The stand pushes the Vision TV's depth measurement out to 360mm, so you don't need an especially deep entertainment unit.

If you want to wall mount the Vision TV, its VESA dimensions are 400x400mm, but the mounting points are recessed into the plastic rear chassis of the TV by around an inch, so you'll need a mount that accomodates this, especially long mounting bolts or some other variety of spacer. The Vision TV has a physical on/off power switch hidden under the lower front bezel — just off to the right of the lower Hisense logo — and the IR receiver is further right of it.

Across its left-hand side and base, the Vision TV has a bevy of digital and analog A/V inputs and outputs — four HDMI, antenna, component and composite video and audio, optical digital audio, wired Ethernet networking, and three USB ports that can host a USB flash drive or external hard drive. Even if you don't want to use the hands-on Android-ness of its operating system, the Vision TV is a pretty versatile television.

What Is It Good At?

The setup procedure for Hisense's Vision TV is simple, and free of any real annoyance. Attaching the two feet is the work of a couple of minutes, then plug in power and the antenna cable and you're ready to go. (You don't really have to plug in an antenna, but since it's a TV it's probably a good idea.) Running through the initial out-of-box setup procedure involves entering a Wi-Fi password or connecting to your network over wired Ethernet — this is a TV that you really want to have Internet access for — and entering your Google account details. It's very similar to setting up a new Android phone or tablet, so if you've done that recently you'll be an old hand here.

For watching free-to-air digital TV, the Hisense Vision TV does a pretty good job. Its internal tuner provides a detailed picture and is quick to operate, changing channels smoothly and without fuss and displaying the EPG accurately. More impressive is the Vision TV's 1080p playback of Blu-ray and high-def gaming content, where the 50-inch screen's native resolution shows plenty of detail and a surprisingly good amount of highlight and shadow detail for a mid-tier edge-lit LED. The TV's video adjustments are limited, but you can switch on and off dynamic backlighting that works quite well to extend contrast in especially bright or dark scenes.

In Skyfall and Casino Royale on Blu-ray, the Vision TV presented excellent detail without being too perturbed by fast motion (thanks to a surprisingly good 100Hz mode). In Samsara generally good colour vibrancy is offset by a default white balance that is marginally too cool (although this can be tweaked) and excessive edge sharpening that looks good once backed off somewhat. In Frozen the Vision TV displayed good gradation and handled high contrast scenes well. I tested a few minutes of the Vision TV's passive 3D, and it's not bad for a screen of its size and price, but there are superior options out there.

Being Android the Hisense Vision TV runs discrete apps like YouTube and SBS On Demand and Photos and Chrome. If you have an Android smartphone the experience is immediately familiar, and it's a good experience overall. It's not perfect — more on that later — but for a tech-savvy user it's a definite step forward from even the best of the rest Smart TV platforms available today from LG and Samsung and other competitors. If you are especially tech-savvy, you can load XBMC directly to the TV for a great media-streaming device straight out of the box — this is a unique experience and one that is very fun to put together.

What Is It Not Good At?

Hisense's bundled Air Wand Bluetooth remote control is 80 per cent good and 20 per cent bad. Wave the remote around and accelerometers inside move around an on-screen mouse pointer — you don't need to point the remote at the TV, but simultaneously the pointer will move if you accidentally nudge the remote sitting next to you. The on-screen control also follows a nonlinear rate of acceleration, so a quick twist of the wrist will throw the pointer across the screen where a slow twist will not — this makes fine movement sometimes frustrating. An infrared Wiimote-style controller would probably have been a superior technology to use, although you would then have to battle line-of-sight issues.

As with almost every slim-line LED television on the market, the Hisense Vision TV's two 8-Watt speakers, in stereo, are OK rather than good or great. They provide a passably detailed and passably musical sound at moderate volume with clear treble and some semblance of mid-range and bass response, but start to distort and break up at higher volumes. As usual, if you're intending on listening to music or properly enjoying movies with the Vision TV or any other LED, an external sound system is preferable.

The Vision TV's satin-coated screen is not exactly matte, but it's a lot less glossy than some of its competitors, and so will suit a reasonably bright daylit room without compromising on overall contrast. A reasonable although unspectacular maximum brightness level means it should be passable for everyday use and not just night-time viewing, but mediocre viewing angles mean there's significant colour shift and loss of brightness as you move off-axis — this is probably the Vision TV's weakest point visually.

Being a TV running Android, the Vision TV has access to the Google Play Store. This is, on the surface, great. You can download and run hundreds of apps, although they have to be certified to run on the Google TV platform and, at the moment, that restricts your choice significantly — I found myself looking through the list of apps downloaded to my LG G3 and seeing "not compatible" repeated constantly. All Google's own apps like Maps and YouTube and Hangouts are certified, of course, but in Australia other devs are slow to catch on. You can side-load apps if you download the APKs via Chrome or if you import them from a USB flash drive, but this isn't something we can recommend every user do.

Should You Buy It?

Hisense Vision TV

Price: AUD$699-$1999

Like
  • Android Smart TV works well.
  • Good image quality.
  • Attractive design and remote.
Don't Like
  • Wireless mouse control is imperfect.
  • Android apps aren't made for TV.
  • Mediocre speakers.

The Vision TV from Hisense is a very interesting product. It does the basic TV thing extremely well — it looks good when it's displaying both free-to-air TV and higher-def content over HDMI — but it also has the proposition of being a TV married directly to Google's Android platform and the Google Play Store. That marriage isn't made in heaven just yet, but for first-party Google services it's overall an excellent experience and for the gadget-hacker the Vision TV presents a huge amount of potential.

All of this is made more enticing when you realise that the Vision TV is actually surprisingly cheap at its various price points. $999 for a 50-inch TV running Android and bundled with a pretty-good-but-not-great wireless pointer control is, in my books, a good deal. It doesn't seem that you can find it too much cheaper than RRP, but if you can it's almost worth picking up to experiment with and see what all-in-one Frankenstein device you can create. From my initial experience, I'll be playing around with the Vision TV for months to come to see what I can make it do.


Comments

    I've just bought myself a new TV, so I've explored many of the questions people are asking quite recently. I have to say though that SmartTV's are simply not worth the extra price. Why settle for an inferior (though definitely not terrible) brand along with limited Smart capabilities when, for the same price, you can get a non-SmartTV and buy a separate box for the smarts. Most of these smart boxes, with some of them even just being a USB dongle, can be had for less than a hundred or just over a hundred.

    At the end of the day, it's about have the best of everything for the same price but losing the all-in-one nature of the product. It's much like building your own PC vs buying a pre-built one.

      do they still make dumb premium panels? From what I've seen if you want a premium panel you're getting a smart TV. Any model numbers would be appreciated?

        LG make a bunch still, Panasonic (though not high end still make an awesome panel).. and I think I spotted a Sony too during my search recently. If it's included and you can see that it hasn't affected the price as a result, then I'd still go for it but would likely still use my own box for the perfect experience.

        this. i just want a high quality panel - no smarts, no 3d, just a sensitive hdtv tuner and maybe 100+ hz for 1080p content. i havent found one that doesnt have the aforementioned unwanted features tacked on.

    Hisense appear to have really upped their game in the design department, looks very nice. Bet you were spewing after you checked those photos out, guessing you didn't have the TV around for a reshoot with flash off or using a bounce flash. Still, a photo of a screen in action doesn't really show what it really looks like in person so not a big deal.

      Check the author of this article, then check all his other articles... notice how he has terrible pictures with bad flash in EVERY single one of them?

        At least he can write articles. Im happy with not so perfect photos if it means he doesnt ctrl + v most of his content like 85% of the journos on this site.
        @campbellsimpson
        You just keep doing the good work you been doing. I enjoy your articles.

          Turn your flash off and turn room lights on - there would be more than enough illumination from the screen (which I assume is what you want to show) - only use flash when you NEED to

          Yep I agree skinja, Campbell is still fairly new to the team and no doubt ironing out a few bugs here and there as he goes, but I also enjoy his articles and can see past any ragged edges. Plus I'm fairly sure I know of him from when I used to hang out on OCAU forums (less so these days) so it feels a little more personable to have someone I'm already a little familiar with writing for Giz.

          Yeah for the record I was not bashing his article writing ability. I was objectively commenting on his bad photography skills. His articles are fine.

    I bought the 55 inch a few weeks ago. Some things of note:
    - While XBMC does install it doesn't seem to be able to decode mkv files using hardware. Switching to software it can't decode 720p or higher.
    - With the unit I bought there is an AV sync issue. WHen watching TV, the AV sync needs to be set to 6. When watching off a hard drive the AV sync setting needs to be set to 8. Its a pain to always change it when switching modes. I have seen this on 2 units. I have contacted Hisense and they are sending me a firmware update targeting this problem in the mail so this might be resolved.
    - The Play Store is quite cut down. Many common apps simply are not in the play store. Perhaps Hisense wants to block off any apps that are a detriment to a positive user experience.
    - TV takes a long time to boot. Maybe 30-40 seconds

    But on the whole I like it. Its a good concept to play around with. Lots of inbuilt apps and having a chrome browser is a big plus. The remote control is more than adequate. I havent felt the need to use a bluetooth keyboard yet.

    Whats the F1 picture relating to? A stream service? In Australia? That WOULD BE AWESOME... i bet it isnt though. Stupid network 10.... OneHD my A$$.

      you can just install the hola app directly to that TV i believe, and just use netflix..

    I like the idea of a smart TV but they just aren't good/powerful enough yet... As such, I will stick with my purpose built HTPC for the time being, though I really look forward to the day a TV comes out with a really good interface built in *cough* Kodi *cough*

    How far away is the android tv that was shown off at the last I/O? I'm currently using an amazon fire tv and a can see the enormous potential of android tv... I would recommend that if people want a smart tv to wait for android tv to be intergrated!

    I actually bought the 40inch about a month ago for the bedroom. The other deciding factor for me was that this was only TV on the market that had DUAL BAND WiFi. Great for streaming shows and you don't get low res youtube as with slower conections.
    I did have to manually adjust colours in initial set up as everything was over saturated in factory settings.
    I like that the remote is uncluttered with fewer buttons but I wish it had a direct video input button so I wouldn't always have to go though the setting menu to change from tv to hdmi.

    I paid $650 for the 40inch at the good guys. Great value for money

    @light487
    @campbellsimpson
    Yeah as mentioned above. Is there any high quality panels that dont include smart tv? Coz next up im gonna build a HTPC thus rendering the smart functions useless for what I need. All I use under smart apps atm is the Plex app to connect to my pc, but that wont be necessary soon.

    I wonder if it will run the foxtel go app, if anyone knows at all please reply?

    Last edited 06/09/14 4:54 pm

    My screen flashes randomly. Any ideas? Its a brand new T.V.. it will flash black and go back to whatever is on. Thanks. [email protected]

    I Have A 50 Inch LCD I Put Movies On A USB Stick They All Work Except For An Movies Over 2 Hrs 5 Mins Could Anybody Help Me Please

    Jusr bought the 50 inch hisense vision - I want to see korean movies but need to install another browser apart from chrome. If anyone knows how please tell. btw cost 785 from JBHi Fi. The quality of screen output is reasonable but having problems getting it to show chinese and korean movies which need flash - strange as it is from china!

    The picture quality is good but the TV is incredibly slow to respond. It takes literally minutes between pressing the on button and the TV to turn on. Often, a little black box with program information appears randomly and with wrong information and does not disappear again. At times, this blocks out a quarter of screen and makes watching TV a very unpleasant and frustrating experience. With regards to the smart ability, typing with the remote is very tedious to the extend that even searching for a youtube video is so frustrating that it is much easier to just watch it on the laptop or tablet. ABC iview doesn't work, so I need to use my laptop for that as well. In summary, I cannot recommend this TV and would not buy it again.

      Agree! I bought the 40" tv for $650 from Harvey Norman. Couldn't get ABC iView to work either. The TV is very slow to turn on and off. There is no AV source button on the remote and the thing is slow to respond in general (mainly the Android side of things). Other than that, the picture and sound is fine. Maybe I can program a remote to change AV source + Foxtel functions and find a firmware update to speed up the UI but I'm not too hopeful. I think the remote wand isn't too bad but the pointer always appears on the screen if you bump the remote.

        I bought this one too i think. Cant upgrade googlechrome app like its asked me. Cant get abc iview, cant get netflix which i specifically said i wanted when i bought it.
        Feeling extremely frustrated. Do you know how i can do these things... Or can you guide me on how to watch netflix through a pc or tablet connected to the smart tv. Do i need a google chrome stick?
        Either im not very smart or the hisense smart tv isn't !

    Guys I just want to know that which headphones can go with this. I know it's something 8mm but what if I want to buy wireless headphones? It doesn't seems compatible to Bluetooth. Please help

    Looking at the date on the article I realise that I'm a little late with my comment but I'll do it anyway... I've been looking to replace my main t.v. with a 60" model and the Hisense caught my eye mainly because of the price (less than fifteen hundred at the moment) but I am a little dubious about buying a lesser known Chinese(?) brand but then towards the end of last year I stayed in a hotel in Hobart for a few nights and they have Hisense t.v.'s in the rooms and they were great! The picture was very clear, the colours were bright and strong (we actually turned the dynamic picture mode off because it was hurting my eyes) and the sound was fine; we didn't have it blasting out but for normal t.v. viewing there wasn't any distortion that I could notice.

    The hotel didn't have the big 60 inchers admittedly but the smaller t.v.'s performed really well and based on that I'm off to Harvey's later today to check one out in the flesh so to speak.

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