Hisense R50B7120UK Review

Can the Hisense B7120UK replicate the US success of Roku TV in the UK?

Verdict

Roku's first entry into the UK market is confident and streamlined. While the omission of Bluetooth and true casting means it isn't a one-stop streaming TV, the number of apps and content will keep most sated – although the inclusion of dynamic metadata HDR would have been welcome

Pros

  • Satisfying 4K and HD picture
  • Decent sound
  • Speedy Game Mode
  • Lots of apps/channels

Cons

  • Limited HDR performance
  • SD performance not the greatest
  • Limited viewing angles

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £379
  • Game Mode
  • HDR10. HLG
  • Freeview Play
  • DLED panel

The Hisense B7120 (R50B7120UK) is one of the first Roku TV models to hit the UK, and is available 43in, 50in (reviewed here), 55in and 65in models.

Roku’s TVs are hugely popular in the US, with one in every three TVs sold a Roku OS TV. Its platform agnostic approach to apps allows everything from Tidal to Netflix to co-exist on its service.

In light of its success Stateside, Roku has teamed up with Hisense to bring its TV operation to the UK. Does this collaboration have the makings of a budget star?

Related: Best cheap TV

Hisense B7120 Roku TV build, design and setup – A Hisense B7100 disguised as a Roku TV

The quality of build here is sensible rather than eye-catching. The B7120 is effectively Hisense’s B7100 series and comes made mostly out of plastic, weighing a not-too-heavy 9.3kg.

The feet are attachable and sit towards the edges of the unit. While that’s fine at this size, if you’re looking at one of the bigger models then you’d do well to consider the width of your stand first. Assembly is as simple as slotting and screwing in the feet.

Hisense Roku B7120

The feet offer 7cm of clearance, so a tall soundbar could block the IR sensor. Wall-mounting is possible, but brackets aren’t included in the box.

The bezel is noticeably thick around the edges – but looks aren’t the main attraction here. Connections total at three HDMI (4K at 60Hz), a Common Interface slot, Wi-Fi, headphone jack, DVB-T2 tuner, composite video, digital optical out and a LAN connection. Having searched high and low for USB ports, there appears to be only one –  plug in an external HDD here and you can play media files or enable the Live TV Pause functionality.

Hisense Roku B7120

Wireless connectivity is Wi-Fi; there’s no Bluetooth. If you want to listen to TV through a pair of headphones, that’s done in the app via the Private Listening feature. Google casting isn’t supported, but you can cast apps that have the DIAL launch protocol, such as YouTube and Netflix.

Setup is virtually frictionless. Roku advises creating an account for access to the Roku Channel Store and throws in codes for three free HD movies from Rakuten TV. The Hisense Roku TV also supports automatic updates.

Hisense B7120 Roku TV operation – Easy to use, plenty of apps (and Freeview Play)

The great thing about the Roku OS is that it’s consistent across all devices. If you own a Roku device then the interface will be familiar – and even if you don’t, it’s easy to get to grips with. The only obvious difference is the inclusion of the Live TV and Freeview Play.

The main screen is divided into Home, My Feed, Search, Streaming channels, Settings and Freeview Play, which stores its various video portals such as ITV Hub, All 4 and the Horror Bits channel.

Hisense Roku B7120

The Home section houses the main streaming apps. The three HDMI inputs are here, and offer a small preview of the live feed. More channels can be added and the homepage personalised – including the names of the HDMI inputs – by pressing the star button.

Films and other content can be tracked through alerts on My Feed, and Streaming Channels is home to the huge number of options on the Roku platform. Settings is where you can tinker with the numerous picture, colour and audio settings.

New to the remote are the four colour-coded buttons (including the Red button), Freeview Play and a TV and EPG Guide button. However, the zapper feels plasticky and isn’t the most responsive either. I’d suggest using the app instead.

The star button on the remote opens up settings – but not all of them. Nestled away in the app are “Expert Settings” – and it’s here where Noise Reduction, White Balance and Gamma can be altered. Inexplicably, there’s no mention of this in the manual. If you’ve made it this far in the review, you have knowledge few others have. Treasure it.

Voice search on the app works in a different way to other TVs. Press the mic button and say what you’re after and it will call up services that carry the movie or TV show. Some results redirect to the TV app; others – such as Netflix’s Mindhunter – tried to open the Netflix app on my smartphone instead.

Hisense B7120 Roku TV performance – Not enough pop for HDR, but satisfying enough with 4K and HD

While it would be a stretch to expect fireworks, if you’re after an affordable TV that performs well then the Hisense B7120 Roku hits a lot more than it misses.

HDR10 and HLG are supported, but with around 300 nits of average (not peak) brightness, it isn’t enough to do HDR justice. Watching Seven Worlds, One Planet on iPlayer in HLG didn’t display the punchiest application of HDR. Nevertheless, it looks good and offers an appreciable sense of fine detail. Although the colours don’t pop, it’s a pleasing image.

Not many TVs feature HDR10+ at this price outside of Samsung. Dolby Vision is appearing on cheaper models (including Hisense’s B7500), and its inclusion here would have helped picture quality on Netflix and Apple TV Plus.

HDR picture modes total three: Bright (effectively Vivid), Dark (Cinema) and Normal. Unusually, Vivid would be my choice with its slightly brighter and better colours (I’d also set the TV at its brightest levels too). Unlike other dynamic modes, it isn’t overdone and looks better than Dark HDR. The description for Normal says it boosts colours, but if it’s a game of spot the difference then I can’t see one.

The panel is a Direct-LED (DLED) backlight and contrast isn’t hugely pronounced. The blacks in the 4K Blu-ray of Logan Noir are fine – but only fine; highlights are rendered dimly. You’ll want to view head-on with this TV since colours lose saturation from wider angles.

Skin tones appear natural, but rosier complexions can err towards ruddy. Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood walks a fine line in this regard, and the Hisense B7120 overstates it a little.

Whites lack detail, and scenes that feature lots of it are rather formless – such as when Eames is leading the projections on a merry dance in the snowscape scenes of Inception, for example. There are also instances of blooming in Apple TV Plus’ For All Mankind.

To HD, and on NFL This Week faces are smooth and complexions shiny, but that’s not unexpected. Switching off Noise Reduction slightly alleviates this if it’s a problem. Black performance is improved over the Roku Premiere player, with less evidence of black crush.

Right: Head on, Left: Side angle

So while HD performance offers good, strong colours and decent clarity, SD is rather fugly – even with Noise Reduction turned on to massage its rougher aspects.

Hisense and Roku are rather circumspect about exact input lag on their site. From our readings, Game mode turns in a snappy 12ms and 39ms when turned off, making this a good TV for gaming.

SD performance can look faded

It’s often the case that audio is the weakest aspect of affordable TVs. With DTS Studio Sound driven by 8W drivers, the Hisense B7120 Roku TV puts in a decently big sound at normal listening levels. Voices are projected with clarity and it’s free from harsh or shrill tones.

Despite a mode called Big Bass, bass is unsurprisingly lacking. Several other options include High Treble, boosting voices (at the expense of everything else), while Theatre expands the soundscape a smidge more for movies.

An external sound system would always get our vote, but there isn’t a huge rush to grab one here. There’s no Dolby Atmos passthrough, though.

Should you buy the Hisense B7120 Roku TV?

If you’re looking for an accommodating budget TV, the Hisense B7120 Roku TV ticks most of the boxes. Picture quality is enjoyable (less so with SD), and the sound quality is better than expected.

The lack of dynamic HDR is a demerit considering we’re seeing it on other TVs at this price. Taken as a whole, the Hisense B7120 Roku TV is a satisfying and accessible budget TV.

As far as alternatives go, there’s the Hisense B7500. That has Dolby Vision, features an edge-lit panel instead of a DLED, and can be had for a similar price.

Samsung’s RU7020 is also a belter of a cheap TV. General picture quality on that set is impressive, as is its upscaling performance, and it still has a few app exclusives in BT Sport. The rapid 10ms response time makes it a good pick for gaming enthusiasts. Sound – as noted in our review – is rather nasty, though.

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