Quantum Leap
Sound & Vision|October - November 2020
Quantum Leap
HISENSE 65H8G QUANTUM LCD ULTRA HDTV
Thomas J. Norton

HISENSE has joined the ranks of LCD TV makers using quantum dots, a technology that enables sets to more closely approach the wider color gamut promised by Ultra HDTV. (Quantum dots generate red and green light when energized by a blue LED, with the sum total providing the backlighting that LCD TVs require.) Along with the 65-inch 65H8G reviewed here, Hisense’s H8G series also includes a 75-inch model, the largest flat-panel TV that the company offers. For larger screen sizes, the company manufactures a range of ultra-short throw laser projectors.

FEATURES

Hisense is based in China, and the 65H8G is assembled in Mexico. The set’s design is conventional, with only a thin black edge of frame barely visible around the screen. For table installations, the 65H8G provides two pair of mounting positions for the attached feet: one at the usual width near the screen’s edges, and the other slightly closer together to accommodate a range of setup options.

The 65H8G is compatible with the Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG high dynamic range formats. Hisense also says the set supports HDR10+ via an HDMI input, but not from its built-in Amazon Prime Video app (Amazon is one of the few streaming services to offer programs with HDR10+). When displaying an HDR10 video source, the set employs its own internal Hi-View Engine processor as needed to optimize tone mapping for the display's peak brightness capability.

While a selectable Dolby Atmos audio feature is provided on the 65H8G, there’s no evidence that any audio is directed upward by the set to produce the signature Atmos feature: overhead, object-based sound effects. But apart from the speakers being audibly overloaded by deep bass in my large room, overall sound was quite listenable and worked best with the Atmos feature turned off.

All four of the set’s HDMI 2.0 inputs can accept and display sources at up to 4K/60Hz in either HDR or SDR. HDMI input 1 is ARC-capable. Other connections include a composite-video input with stereo audio, an optical digital audio output, a mini-jack headphone output, an RF antenna input, two USB ports (one 3.0, the other 2.0), and a LAN (Ethernet) port.

The 65H8G’s Android-driven Smart TV features includes a number of preloaded apps for wireless streaming, including YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, and Vudu. You can download others from an extensive list with popular sites such as Disney+ and Hulu through an Apps menu. I restricted my streaming to YouTube and Netflix, with picture quality ranging from adequate to superb depending on the source material. Along with apps, the set’s Android smart TV features include playback of your own music, photos, and videos.

Hisense makes no claims for special gaming features on the 65H8G such as Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), but it does offer a Game picture mode. With this active, I recorded a 10.5ms lag time using the 1080p Leo Bodnar input lag measuring device—a very good result. Measured in Theater Dark mode, however, input lag was 71.1ms.

The set’s remote control isn’t backlit. I initially managed to hit the wrong buttons in the dark, but as with most remotes, familiarity reduced that annoyance over time.

SETUP

The 65H8G comes with only a rudimentary Quick Setup Guide. There’s no onscreen user manual, though one is available on the Hisense website. Unfortunately, some instructions offered there were inadequate for the user having no past experience with the specific feature being researched. In particular, there was no useful guidance on the set’s included Alexa and Google Assistant capabilities.

Picture controls include a Color Tuner (Hisense’s name for its color management system, or CMS), both 2- and 20-step White Balance adjustments, and a multi-position gamma control. On most sets, the “gamma” for HDR is fixed and can’t be changed by the user since HDR gamma (more correctly called the EOTF, or Electro-Optical Transfer Function) by design must follow a specific curve (PQ, or Perceptual Quantization—try to keep up with the acronyms!). But the 65H8G’s gamma control is adjustable for both SDR and HDR10, though not for Dolby Vision. There’s also an unusual Gamma Calibration control that can adjust the gamma up or down at 5 percent brightness intervals and is separately adjustable for HDR and SDR. My advice: leave the “Gamma” control at its default setting of 2.2 and avoid using either of these adjustments for HDR.

I selected the 65H8G’s Theater Dark picture mode for all of my standard dynamic range (SDR) calibrations and viewing, and HDR Theater for high dynamic range (HDR10). Of the three Dolby Vision options—Dolby Vision Dark, Dolby Vision Bright, and Dolby Vision Custom—I used Dolby Vision Bright.

A Dynamic Contrast control is available to enhance the contrast between light and dark areas of the picture depending on the characteristics of each scene. Although the Low setting did offer a subtle enhancement with some material, I left this control off most of the time.

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October - November 2020