Hisense recently brought its first 8K television to Australia and we got the chance to spend some alone time with this 75-inch beast.
While there’s no 8K content to watch on television right now ,the Hisense U80G promises AI-powered upscaling to automatically enhance whatever you’re watching. This is the same strategy as every other 8K TV manufacturer at the moment.
It’s also mighty affordable for an 8K television at only $6,999. The 75-inch model is the only one available in Australia right now but Hisense has a smaller 65-inch and a whopping 85-inch coming to market in future.
So does the U80G live up to the 8K name?
Hisense U80G picture quality
Hisense uses the ULED acronym to describe its premium televisions. To carry the ULED label, these TVs must have quantum dot colour, Dolby Atmos and Vision and full-array local dimming at minimum — all of which are packed into the U80G.
All around I found the U80G did a pretty good job of handling whatever I threw at it, but its performance did vary.
Let’s start with 8K content. This is the reason we’re here and I’m pleased to say that the U80G really delivered.
I tested a series of 8K reels on YouTube in 4320p and the television served up stunning 8K pictures in intricate detail.
This is definitely where the TV shines. The caveat here is that there’s not a lot of native 8K content going around right now. So of course the specially made reels made exactly for marketing purposes look great.
The film and television industry is still getting a handle on 4K and HDR so it’ll be a little while longer before 8K content is readily available. But this is the same for the entire industry.
Without a lot of 8K content, it means the TV has to rely heavily on upscaling. I tested this in a few formats going from standard definition videos on YouTube to 4K blockbusters on Netflix.
I found the U80G did a very good job of upscaling HD content.
The television managed to provide high levels of detail in an older show like Friends and it made those earlier episodes feel like they were shot today, not 20 years ago.
Similarly, HDR-optimised content like The Witcher and Stranger Things looked absolutely stunning on this TV. The colours popped and the motion was smooth and seamless.
Henry Cavill always looks good, but he looks especially good on this TV.
The TV also offers a number of different picture modes that make a significant difference to your viewing experience. I found the dynamic mode brought out really visceral colours in a picture but the cinematic and natural modes provided some alternatives for a more contrasted image.
In terms of handling action and smoothness, the TV held up incredibly well. I noticed this the most in Formula 1: Drive to Survive. The scenes in this series switch quickly and frequently between sit-down interviews, documentary footage and POV cameras from the cars. There was a significant picture difference between each scene and it handled the first-person racing footage incredibly smoothly.
You could probably enjoy the majority of your UHD content on this TV without even noticing. But for television nitpickers, there were some issues. The U80G’s downfall came when I fed it some darker images.
The U80G makes use of a full array LED panel which provides eye-popping colour and brightness, but given it has a backlight it struggles to achieve the perfect blacks of an OLED. This really showed when it came to providing contrast in darker-lit scenes.
To be fair, these are difficult images to process for any TV, but on an 8K the artefacts and blooming were quite noticeable. You can see it again in the opening titles for Stranger Things.
However, I found this wasn’t consistent across everything I tested.
For example, in this scene with The Rock in Hobbs & Shaw the blacks held up very well – even if my phone camera can’t quite capture it. (Also, you’re welcome).
This could come down to a number of things – the internet connection, the quality of the footage when it was first shot, or it could just be a side effect of the backlight. But it’s important to note that the consistency of the U80G can vary.
How does it handle gaming?
Now that we have next-gen consoles that are 8K capable, you really want a TV that is ready for them.
The U80G is HDMI 2.1 compatible and has a new Game Mode Pro that provides variable refresh rates and auto low latency mode. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to test a PS5 or Xbox Series X during my time with the TV so can’t comment on how it handles those consoles.
I did, however, put it to the test with my Nintendo Switch.
The Switch offers 1080p in docked mode so I was intrigued to see if the TV could upscale it. I’m pleased to report it did a pretty stellar job.
I ran a few tests with Animal Crossing: New Horizons and The First Tree to see how it would handle these animation styles.
The colours looked absolutely brilliant in both and while neither game requires huge amounts of 4K or VRR they ran smoothly and didn’t sacrifice any quality.
I can also say Among Us has never looked as good as it has on this TV. For a game that is pixelated by design, the U80G upscaled it incredibly well.
I found that I got smoother movement without Game Mode activated on these Switch titles. You can actively see the difference between the two settings but seeing as none of these games is too action-heavy it wasn’t really required.
How does it sound?
While the U80G features stunning 8K pictures it doesn’t quite have the sound to match.
The television’s inbuilt sound system features 2 tweeters, 2 midrange speakers and no woofers. This makes achieving 5.1 levels of sound pretty difficult.
The audio was definitely better from the TV when playing Dolby Atmos compatible content but apart from that it was pretty standard. I didn’t have any issues with volume or clarity but if you’re hoping for rich directional sound you might want to consider buying a soundbar.
The U80G promises an automatic volume leveller which would theoretically raise and decrease volume if there’s a loud sound in the room – like a vacuum. But due to my limited testing environment, I didn’t get a chance to see this in action.
If you care a lot about sound, you might want to consider a soundbar with this tellie.
On the whole, the U80G is a nice looking TV.
At 75-inches the U80G is a large boy and you’re going to want to make sure your TV cabinet can handle it. This is made slightly more difficult because of the leg design.
The U80G sits on two elegant stands on either end of the screen. This wouldn’t be an issue except that the prongs of the legs are spaced quite far apart so you’re going to need a base that is not only wide but also deep.
Alternatively, you can wall mount it instead.
In terms of ports, the U80G had plenty and we absolutely love to see it.
It features four HDMI inputs, two of which are 8K compatible and one with eARC support. They’re also accessible on the left backside of the TV and have cylindrical grooves for your cables that will keep them neatly in place when you replace the plastic panel.
One issue I did have with the TV was screen glare. Admittedly my testing environment was not ideal with harsh fluorescent lights at play, but when that screen was dark and the lights were on it was like looking in a mirror.
Most of the time the screen produces a bright enough picture to compensate for this but it’s something to consider when watching dark scenes or if you have a bright room.
U80G operating system
The U80G also marks one of the first Hisense televisions that moves away from its internal VIDAA operating system and switches it for Android TV.
This interface is easy enough to use and allows users to download all their apps from the store rather than using an additional streaming box.
Its performance, however, is a little sluggish, particularly when I tried to use the Google voice assistant.
The U80G boasts a neat far-field voice control feature that allows you to “Hey Google” your TV without holding down any buttons. While this feature is cool, it’s only good when it actually works and I would say I had a success rate of about 50 per cent.
For those concerned about your TV listening to you, the U80G has a button on the bottom panel that will switch off voice commands.
How much does it cost?
Another area that the Hisense U80G shines is its price.
To find an 8K television that’s priced less than 8k is pretty difficult but the U80G makes it happen. The RRP of the TV is $6,999 but it’s already going for as much as $1000 less at retailers.
When you consider other 8K TVs, like Samsung’s Neo 8Ks, are going upwards of $10,000 (which is still quite a good price considering the pedigree, and how expensive 8Ks were even couple of years ago) the U80G undercuts this by a fair margin and for a 75-inch TV this makes it quite competitive.
At the moment, the 75-inch is the only Hisense 8K available in Australia but if that’s too large then it’s probably worth holding out for the 65-inch model to hit our shores.
$7000 is still quite a lot to drop on a TV and you want to make sure you’ll be happy with it until 8K content is more readily available, but the Hisense U80G is an affordable option that offers quality.
Should you buy it?
I have not spent nearly enough time with this TV to say if it’s worth your $7000. The consistency in performance was too variable during my time to be sure it can handle anything that’s thrown at it – but for the most part, it did just fine.
I’m confident in the U80G’s 8K picture quality and I think it will be a solid choice when the 8K era truly begins. However, there are still a few things I’d want to see before dropping money on it.
Next-gen gaming is one of those things. While the U80G handled my Switch remarkably well that can’t replace the experience of a next-gen gaming console. The U80G has all the tools in place to deliver an epic gaming experience, but you still need to see it to believe it.
The TV showed me it could handle controlled 8K picture in stunning resolution and it’s upscaling of HD and 4K video was impressive but it couldn’t consistently handle the darker pictures of some of the content I pushed on it.
While the price and affordability of the U80G is a key selling point. it’s worth factoring in the cost of a soundbar if you want really decent 5.1 sound with your 8K picture.
All that being said, Hisense’s U80G is a solid contender in the 8K market in terms of quality and price and it’s worth paying attention to. Now, if only we could get some actual 8K content.