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Verdict

A convenient and compact laser projector, the Hisense C1 puts in a rich, colourful performance, decent sound and useful smarts

Pros

  • Rich, colourful performance
  • Decent built-in audio
  • Convenient set-up
  • Easy to use interface

Cons

  • Not great with dark scenes
  • A few weak picture presets
  • Another HDMI 2.1 input would not go amiss

Key Features

  • Laser projectionPicture produced via Hisense’s TriChroma technology
  • User interfaceVIDAA V6 interface for smarts and apps
  • Auto Magic AI adjustingC1 automatically corrects and focus image without user input

Introduction

Interest in projectors has grown in the past several years, as shown by the broad and different types of models available on the market.

From portable pico efforts to ‘lifestyle’ projectors that fit easily into a living room over a dedicated installation, Hisense is one of several brands staking an interest in this area with the C1.

A smart, portable laser projector with an intuitive interface and built-in sound system, as well as the ability to produce an image bigger than a TV at less expense; the Hisense C1 is here to replace your TV forever.

Design

  • Small footprint
  • Good looks
  • Built-in sound system

Measuring 295 x 179 x 216mm (HWD) and weighing 4.6kg, the Hisense C1 projector is a compact, well-finished unit that feels (and looks) of a high calibre. The finish on the front with its circular lines adds a premium touch, and the overall build quality feels robust. There’s nothing cheap or flimsy about the C1 despite being made from plastic.

Hisense C1 head on view
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

On either side of the C1 are grilles to disperse heat but during testing the projector never ran too hot. In fact it runs rather cool for the most part, and whenever the fan is called into action, I couldn’t hear it over the from the built-in sound system.

On the top surface are buttons for power, playback and volume control; though the packaged remote serves as the main means of operation, and I found that you don’t have to point towards the projector to get a response – aim it at the wall and that works fine.

Hisense C1 side grille
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Around the rear are the connections, and though the C1 doesn’t come with a stand, if you look on the underside there’s a mounting point to add a tripod. There’s no handle to transport but it’s none too difficult to pick it up and move.

Features

  • Dolby Vision + Atmos
  • HDMI 2.1 support
  • 4K resolution

The specs for the Hisense C1 include HDR10, HLG, and HDR10+ decoding, and the projector supports Dolby Vision HDR. Filmmaker mode is included, though it doesn’t activate automatically in Prime Video when it senses a compatible stream.

Hisense also claims the C1 covers 110% of the BT.2020 gamut to display a wider range of colours via its TriChomra Laser technology (red, green, and blue lasers). The C1 also has a 3840 x 2160 resolution so there is no trickery or upscaling to 4K required.

Hisense C1 iris lens
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Brightness is rated at 1600 ANSI lumens, which implies the Hisense C1 won’t be too distracted by ambient lighting in a well-lit room.

The 20W JBL sound system can decode Dolby Atmos tracks but understand that the C1 won’t produce an immersive performance in the same way that a soundbar or surround system can.

Smarts come in Amazon Alexa and VIDAA Voice, along with the VIDAA U interface. There’s a game mode and though I didn’t test the latency, Hisense rates it as less than 60ms, which is still high compared to the best gaming TVs.

Hisense C1 voice assistants
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

With a throw ratio of 1:2, the screen size can be anything from 65- to 300-inches. The Auto Matic AI system can align keystone adjustment, focus and align the screen to avoid any obstacles without requiring user input.

Connectivity features two HDMI ports, including one that covers the HDMI 2.1 spec with eARC and ALLM. That means you’ll need to make a choice between adding a soundbar or game console. An extra HDMI input or another HDMI 2.1 port would have helped.

Hisense C1 rear connectivity
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

There are two USB inputs (2.0 and 3.0 spec), Ethernet, headphone and optical outputs, the latter for connecting a non-HDMI sound system. Bluetooth 5 and Wi-Fi are also available, as is AirPlay 2 for iOS devices.

Interface

  • Supports popular streaming apps
  • Freeview Play
  • Lots of free content

The C1 uses Hisense’s VIDAA U6 interface, and it functions like it does on the brand’s TVs. Netflix still holds pride of place in the app row, alongside the main video streaming apps (Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, etc), and plenty of other content including free options.

Hisense C1 VIDDA interface
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

There’s Freeview Play but no tuner to get DTV terrestrial channels so it’s all IP delivered (over the Internet). There are rows upon rows of curated content that goes on for a while, but the amount of rows doesn’t appear to make the interface tardy or laggy.

The interface is responsive to commands and simple to navigate, and although there are spaces for ads, VIDAA has never been one to pummel users with advertisements, usually highlighting its own features or content from SVOD apps.

Hisense C1 free content
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Signing into apps can be done quickly too, especially if passwords are already saved in the Android ecosystem.

The VIDAA menu system offers customisation options on picture, sound, auto correction and the smart side of things. Hold down on the power button and that reveals the Mixbar that brings up sources, volume control, among other things. All the settings are explained with handy descriptions, so even those lacking more technical know-how will understand what’s what.

Hisense C1 projector menu settings
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Performance

  • Blacks look more grey
  • Bright, colourful performance
  • Sound system offers decent presence

It is very easy to get the Hisense C1 up and running, mainly because it does all of the set-up itself. It’ll calibrate the focus on first power up, going from a fuzzy screen to a sharp image within seconds, and it’ll auto correct the size of the screen as well – when it moves the screen will get bigger or smaller and adjust the focus in kind.

It’s very convenient – almost no action is needed on the user’s part to get an image that accommodates your space. There have been moments where I’ve nudged the table and it’s performed auto correction, so the C1 is sensitive to any movement.

Hisense C1 auto correction
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

I didn’t use a screen, I just projected the image onto a white wall, and though Hisense says the C1 can cope with well-lit rooms, it is best to draw the curtains, pull down the blinds, or at the very least dim the lights. The Hisense C1 is capable of a bright and colourful image but with darker content it’s best served with the lights down.

Black bars of letterboxed content can look grey but it’s serviceable enough without being too distracting. With HDR content the C1 struggles to maintain black depth. Watching Zero Dark Thirty (4K Blu-ray) in the projector’s Standard mode and it’s a compromise between seeing detail and getting black levels right.

Hisense C1 Zero Dark Thirty black levels
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

In Standard mode blacks are raised. With HDR Night mode it’s better but black levels become too dark and indistinct. In some shots it’s hard to make out detail with blacks looking grey and formless but this is the pact you make when dealing with a projected image versus a TV’s backlight. You won’t get the same black levels or consistency, though Dolby Vision can help – a stream of The Marvels presented pretty good black levels for the most part.

The Hisense C1 is most impressive with bright images. It’s a bold, colour rich image.

Hisense C1 The Marvels Dolby Vision
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

When tuning into a stream of Fallout on Prime Video, though black levels look grey it’s an image that favours the bright colours of the wasteland even though the C1 loses out on some subtlety in HDR tones and shades. The sky in Fallout seems to be the same consistent shade of yellow with no changes in gradation.

I do like the warmth of the C1’s picture however, and it’s astute enough to capture the varied skintones of the Khan family in The Marvels rather than paint them all in the same way. There’s not much a projector can do with highlights but the C1 summons a decent sense of luminance with the brightest parts of the image.

Hisense C1 Rebel Moon highlights
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The downside of the C1’s picture performance is that there is a slightly processed look to the image. Watching Rebel Moon (Netflix), the face of Ed Skrein’s character lacks detail in some close-ups. Some parts of his face are detailed and others appear softer, and it’s a similar issue I noted when watching The Peripheral (Prime Video).

Skipping through the HDR modes reveals a few more oddities. There’s virtually no difference between HDR Night and Filmmaker modes; while flicking on Dynamic mode with Cinderella (4K Blu-ray) is a showcase for noisy blacks, colours that are distinctly not vivid or boosted, plus skintones and colours that veer from grey to too orange, from shot to shot.

Vibrancy is missing, detail levels have gone on holiday – characters look more like waxworks in some shots.

Hisense C1 Cinderella dynamic
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

SDR content benefits from the C1’s rich colour performance and the lack of subtlety works in its favour with Lucy. The rich reds of Mr Jang’s apartment leap off the wall, colours in general look lovely, while white tones are reproduced in crisp and pure terms; with black levels better reproduced in SDR too.

Hisense C1 Lucy SDR colours
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Like the HDR modes, not all the SDR picture modes sing as well as they should. Standard and Dynamic fare best in terms of producing a colourful and rich image with Lucy, but Cinema Day and Night modes are bore fests, lacking punch and draining skintones of colour. The Filmmaker mode in SDR is the worst of the lot: malnourished in terms of colour as if a brown filter has washed over the image. It’s an eyesore.

The C1’s Ultra Smooth Motion feature acquits itself well with Bad Boys II (4K Blu-ray). There’s not as much noise, break-up or even judder that I noticed on its Smooth setting. I’ve seen TVs handle this film a lot worse than the C1.

There can be motion blurring from time to time (Rebel Moon) with some artefacts popping up (Lucy) in terms of tracking character’s hair and some wobbly edge definition, but on the whole these issues are slight, and not too impactful.

Sound is usually an issue for projectors but the built-in JBL sound system is robust. Volume level 20 is about the highest I’d go as bass heavy scenes and high frequencies can invoke some distortion. Otherwise bass response is better than I’d expected, and there is decent dynamism and intensity to give action scenes punch.

Hisense C1 built in sound system
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

It pushes sounds out a little wider and further from the unit, and there are times where voices feel attached to what’s on the wall than the projector itself. Vocal clarity is clear and precise – the C1 never faltered as far as clarity was concerned – and it’s best performance was with disc-based lossless Atmos content, which sounds louder and beefier than lossy streams.

There’s a choice of sound modes with Theatre producing the biggest and widest soundstage, with voices carrying more weight. Music and Speech are fine, though ironically with the latter, dialogue sounds less than natural.

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Should you buy it?

You should buy if you can’t accommodate a TV

Perhaps there’s not space for a TV of the size you want; the Hisense C1 has features you’d expect from a TV but can display a picture on a much broader canvas than any TV could.

You should not buy if you want a better HDR performance

As rich and colourful as the Hisense C1’s picture can be, it’s not as wide-ranging with colours as a TV is, and some of its picture modes are dull.

Final Thoughts

Dropping nearly £2000 on a projector is a lot to spend but the Hisense C1 brings its various parts together in a neat fashion. The C1 looks the part, its compact size easily fits into any room. Its picture performance is a bright and colourfully rich one complemented by a decent built-in audio system, and an interface that’s unfussy and caters for your streaming needs.

There are few foibles: its picture modes could be better, it lacks subtlety with HDR content, and there is a limit to how loud the sound system can go.

The Hisense C1 doesn’t have the runway all to itself. There’s similarly priced competition in the XGIMI Horizon Ultra, BenQ GP500 and the less expensive Dangbei Mars Laser projectors that are worth consideration.

Regardless, in terms of convenience and ease of use, the Hisense C1 gets it right by keeping it as simple as possible. On that basis, it’s worthy of a recommendation.

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FAQs

Which HDR formats does the Hisense C1 support?

The C1TUK projector can decode HDR10, HLG, and HDR10+ formats, as well as project Dolby Vision HDR sources.

Full specs

UK RRP
Manufacturer
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
Release Date
Model Number
Resolution
Projector Type
Brightness Lumens
Contrast Ratio
Max Image Size
HDR
Types of HDR
Refresh Rate
Ports
Audio (Power output)
Projector Display Technology
Throw Ratio

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