Exclusive! Last week we reported on Hisense advertising HDMI 2.1 ‘features’ on its U8G television despite not having the physical port. The situation nuanced and looks at the expectations around this next-gen connectivity. But it turns out that the U8G story is even more complicated than we thought.
We already knew the U.S. version of the U8G has the physical HDMI 2.1 port. This means it can deliver 4K / 120Hz output, while the Australian version can’t. Without the port its variable refresh rate maxes out at 4k / 60Hz.
But an email sent to Gizmodo Australia has revealed that this isn’t the only major spec difference between the U.S. and Australian versions of the U8G.
The U8G differs greatly to the U.S Version despite having the same name
According to the source, the U.S. version contains an Android operating system, a VA panel and 1,500 nits of peak brightness. This is backed up by the spec sheet.
Comparatively, the Australian version has a VIDAA operating system, an IPS panel (with arguably inferior contrast) and no mention of the nits. It’s worth noting here that as a standard, Hisense Australia does not publicly advertise the peak nits of its televisions.
The source also stated that there is a rumour that the processor in the Australian model is also inferior, but we have no been able to confirm this.
Despite these stark differences, the Australian and the U.S. versions of this TV have the exact same model numbers. And this is a problem.
According to our source, this move is deceptive and feels like a bait and switch. And it’s difficult to disagree with this.
Modern customers tend to consume content globally. They read or watch reviews of products they’re interested in from overseas outlets as well as Australian ones. If they see rave reviews of a TV from U.S. journalists and creators, they expect the product to be the same when it launches here — especially when it has the same model number.
And this is the exact case with the U8G. It has great overseas reviews that can be easily access and skimmed, even in the middle of a retail store. Few would be savvy enough to realise that the spec sheets may tell a different story. And they shouldn’t have to be. Model numbers should be universal. If a TV is this different to its U.S. counterpart, it should be given a different name.
But unfortunately it is too late for some customers.
“There are people who have already come on Whirlpool forums saying they made the purchase based on the glowing reviews of the US counterpart.” our source said in an email.
Hisense acknowledges the problem and is changing its website
Hisense has confirmed with Gizmodo Australia that the U8G is not a unique case.
“Historically our products have always varied from country to country and this year is no different,” a Hisense spokesperson said on a call with Gizmodo Australia.
The extent of those differences over the years is unclear. Perhaps the significant differences between the U.S. and Aussie U8G is special case. We just don’t know.
Regardless, the company plans on doing something about this locally off the back of our reporting and recent customer feedback.
“We see the confusion around the same model model number which we apologise for. We wanted to just be able to tell you that we’re taking steps to clarify that confusion.”
This will take the form of more transparency on the Hisense website. The company has confirmed with Gizmodo Australia that every TV model number on site will clearly specify that it is the Australian version.
Similarly, every TV on the Hisense website that does not contain a HDMI 2.1 port will state this fact clearly.
These changes are in the process of happening now and will be live on the Hisense Australia website from Wednesday this week. I hope is that this differentiation and clarification will at least filter down to retail stores so customers can make the most informed decisions possible.
While this isn’t quite the same as introducing different model numbers, it’s at least a start.
However, I still wonder if it will make enough of a difference when it comes to how customers access information. Often they may not even go to a manufacturer’s website. They might Google reviews, videos and articles instead. In those cases, identical model numbers will continue to be a problem.