- Above average design and finish
- Netflix, Amazon and YouTube in 4K
- Freeview Play
- Deliciously sharp 4K imagery
- HDR isn’t particularly bright
- Only two HDMIs support 4K @ 60Hz
- Review Price: £649
- 4K UHD TV with HDR10 and HLG support
- Freeview Play with integrated catch-up
- Auto Sport detection viewing mode
What is the Hisense U7A?
The Hisense U7A is a mid-range flatscreen flagship, with a FIFA twist. Reflecting the brand’s sponsorship of the Russian World Cup, it boots with a FIFA World Cup 2018 logo. If you want to feel connected to footie every time you switch on, this is clearly the set for you. But what if you don’t turn to soccer for succour? Well, we’ve got good news…
Hisense offers three sizes of U7A: 50 inches, 55 inches (reviewed here; the full name is Hisense HE55U7A1WTSG) and a step-up 65-inch model. In terms of design, all are on the ball. The bezel is ultra-thin, much like the panel itself, and it swells only to accommodate electronics and speakers.
Sonic provision is above average, too. In addition to downward-firing stereo speakers, there’s a pair of rear-facing woofers, which flesh out the set’s lower mid-range.
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Hisense U7A – Design and features
The Hisense U7A may be a midfielder, but you wouldn’t know it from the cosmetics.
The ultra-narrow bezel has a stylish curve that emulates design at the premium end of the market. The screen itself sits on a heavy V-shaped pedestal. Not only does this look fancy, it’s a good fit with most types of AV furniture, and marks a welcome change from edge-spaced feet.
Connectivity comprises four HDMIs, two of which support 4K @ 60Hz and the others handling 4K up to 30Hz. There’s also a composite AV and twin USBs (one is of the fast v3.0 variety), plus an optical digital audio output. The tuner choice is Freeview Play or HD satellite.
The remote control is a regulation wand, but has dedicated keys for YouTube and Netflix.
It may not be as ambitious as the Android TV OS, or as multifunctional as LG’s webOS, but there’s a welcome simplicity to Hisense’s Vidaa U smart platform.
The Home screen is an overlay, with tiles for Freeview Play, Apps, Inputs, Media and Settings. Streaming services include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube, all of which offer 4K (HDR is supported by the main duo). There’s also mainstream catch-up TV services, courtesy of Freeview Play.
One of this model’s more unusual tricks is Sports Mode Auto detection. When the TV identifies a sports broadcast, it automatically offers to engage its Sports video and audio preset. While this only works on tuner-delivered content, rather than anything coming over HDMI, as a gimmick it’s a good deal more impressive than the football modes we’ve seen in other TVs.
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Hisense U7A – Performance
The Hisense U7A’s picture quality is generally impressive, but there are caveats. Choosing the right image preset makes a big difference.
Standard dynamic range image modes comprise Standard, Cinema Day, Cinema Night, Dynamic and Sports.
The Cinema modes aren’t particularly flattering. Skin tones take on an unhealthy hue and the image flattens. Standard offers a better, brighter balance, while Dynamic is an unapologetic crowd-pleaser. For a really engaging image, I’d suggest notching down the saturation and sharpness a tad on the latter.
With HDR content, these presets default to HDR Dynamic, HDR Day and HDR Night.
Image resolution is excellent; there’s no compromise on detail here. With 4K Blu-ray and OTT services, the HDR Dynamic mode gives the biggest lift to fine detail.
The catch is that the set isn’t a particularly bright performer. I measured peak luminance at just under 300cd/m2 (or nits) in HDR Dynamic mode, using a 5% window. This is lower than some rival mid-range HDR LED LCD screens we’ve seen. However, while the U7A lacks peak luminosity, it still manages a dynamic performance.
The set has a (relatively) good black level, and decent uniformity. For maximum contrast and colour sit head on; off-angle viewing diminishes both.
That ever eager Sports mode lifts the APL (average picture Llevel) and over saturates colour. In particular, reds and greens are given a luminous glow. It’s hardly accurate, but I suspect plenty will probably like it.
As befits the U7A’s sporty nature, there’s some powerful motion handling on offer. The brand’s Ultra Smooth Motion processor has no problem eradicating judder and retaining detail. Both Clear and Standard modes keep action crisp and panning shots slick.
Inevitably, there are motion artefacts around some moving objects – but these aren’t too intrusive.
I wouldn’t choose to use USM for movies or cinematic TV shows, however. That icy soap opera look really isn’t conducive to a cinematic experience.
The set gets a tick when it comes to gaming. Using the Standard preset, image lag is moderately high at 47.6ms. However, with the dedicated Game mode engaged, this drops to a more acceptable 30.9ms.
Audio performance is solid. Power output is rated at 2 x10W, which translates to decent noise. The set offers a selection of post-processed sound modes (Standard, Theatre, Music, Speech, Late night and Sports), as well as an option for PCM or DD 5.1 on the digital audio output. Variable lip sync can be used to combat any screen latency errors.
There’s also Digital Audio Out, variable between PCM and Dolby Digital.
Why buy the Hisense U7A?
Buying into the mid-range can be a crapshoot when it comes to build quality and usability. Typically cheap screens are sold on screen acreage alone. The U7A doesn’t play those games. The cosmetic finish is a cut above its pay grade, 4K resolution is impressive, and a combination of Freeview Play and 4K streaming service support make it an easy panel on which to binge watch.
However, if hyper-bright HDR is your aspiration, or you’ll be viewing in a brightly lit environment, then this model probably isn’t going to suit. That said, the U7A’s sheer vibrancy is likely to score with sports fans.
If you want a stylish-looking 4K flatscreen, built around a decent smart platform with some fun functionality, the U7A should definitely make your shortlist.
Score in detail
Image Quality 6
Sound Quality 5