In years past, running Android on a Smart TV has been a tricky business. Unfriendly user interfaces, incompatible apps, deprecated versions of the operating system; there are plenty of impediments that make an Android TV a lot less attractive than an Android phone. Hisense’s new Vision TVs look they solve most of those problems.
There are four new TVs in the Vision range, and they’re all equal: the $799 40-inch, $1199 50-inch, $1499 55-inch, and $2199 65-inch all run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean — and the Vision is the only Android TV in Australia (and, unofficially, the world) to be properly certified by Google.
A quad-core CPU and GPU inside the K390 range should make for enough power to run any garden-variety Android app; you don’t have to mess around with side-loading either, since the Google Play Store is preloaded onto the TVs straight out of the box. All you have to do in the initial setup process is sync your Google account, then all your existing Chrome bookmarks and Play Store apps can be moved onto the TV itself.
The interface looks pretty clean and no-nonsense; here are four seperate screens placed alongside each other. The entire theme has shades of Windows 8.1, with big edge-to-edge colour-blocked tiles and simple, descriptive icons. Vision might actually be pretty easy to use; could this be an Android TV that actually works?
Google Voice Search also works. For general on-screen navigation, Hisense has a LG Magic Remote-esque Bluetooth ‘air mouse’ remote control, which you wave around to move a cursor and navigate around the interface. The GUI reminds us a lot of Samsung’s new cuboid Smart Hub — but that’s not a bad thing at all.
As you’d expect, all the new Hisense TVs use edge-lit, Full HD LED-LCD panels, which means the TVs are reasonably thin and energy-efficient. Three HDMI ports means you can hook up a Blu-ray player or external media device, although there’s no sign of MHL mobile charging support. Hisense’s Vision TVs apparently in all the big-box electronics retailers across Australia, right now.