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Year after year, Hisense continues to step up its game in the value-priced TV market. The 2021 65-inch U8G is its best flagship yet, delivering exceptional image quality and reliable smart TV streaming for $1,250.
There are better looking QLED and OLED TVs on the market, but you’ll need to pay at least $500 more for a substantial upgrade. Buyers who want a 65-inch TV for under $1,500 should put the U8G at the top of their shortlist.
Hisense U8G 4K TV specifications
Design and setup
The U8G has a pleasing, modern design but it isn’t quite as sleek as some other sets I’ve reviewed. The panel is thicker than most competing displays, with a profile of about four inches, and the unconventionally shaped stand could be a pro or con depending on your personal taste.
That said, I’m not someone who prioritizes external aesthetics for TVs, and I don’t mind losing some style points if it means I get impressive image performance for a good price. On that front, the U8G delivers where it counts, even if its design won’t wow your guests like a super-thin Neo QLED or OLED would.
The U8G features four HDMI ports, including two with HDMI 2.1 for next-gen gaming features. That’s better than the lone 2.1 port found on Samsung’s new flagship, but some companies, like LG, offer four on their high-end sets.
A simple click-button remote is included for easy navigation. It has all the essential functions you need, along with a few shortcut buttons to popular streaming apps like
and Disney Plus. The remote also features voice control powered by
, and this function works well.
The TV’s initial setup process guides you through general housekeeping items and policy agreements. You can even use an Android phone to expedite the process by syncing with your Wi-Fi details and existing Google account.
For the best out-of-box image, I recommend using the “Theater Night” mode for standard dynamic range (SDR), “Theater HDR” mode for HDR10 content, and “Dolby Vision Dark” mode for Dolby Vision content with local dimming set to high. You’ll also want to disable all extra picture processing features in the settings menu to get the most accurate image.
That said, I did notice one issue with Dolby Vision content. For whatever reason, black levels appear about one step too high, causing the backlight to appear elevated which gives dark scenes a washed out and uneven look. Reducing the brightness setting from 50 to 49 fixed this, allowing the set to produce inky black levels.
The U8G delivers impressive picture quality, whether you’re watching movies in a dark home theater or flipping through channels in a living room that lets in a lot of outside light. The TV’s use of quantum dots and full-array local dimming help to enable the highest brightness performance I’ve seen in a display this price.
Using an X-Rite i1Display Pro Plus Colorimeter and test patterns on the Spears and Munsil UHD Benchmark disc, I measured a peak of around 1,800 nits on a 10% window. That’s on par with Samsung’s flagship QN90a which costs nearly $900 more. I actually measured even higher numbers at first, but the set dimmed down a bit after cycling through patterns for a few minutes. With that in mind, you might be able to get a peak of over 2,000 nits in short bursts. This makes HDR content really pop, and helps with daytime viewing if there’s a lot of ambient light in the room.
In addition to high brightness, the TV is capable of solid black levels, thanks to its 360 dimming zones. This makes the image look nice and inky when you watch in a dark room. That said, light tends to bleed into black bars in wide-screen movies, and the backlight on my review unit is a little uneven at times with the corners appearing a bit brighter than the rest of the screen.
Mild blooming around characters and bright objects against dark backgrounds is also visible. For instance, when watching “A Quiet Place Part II” I could see halos around characters when they were lit in dark scenes. This is common for all TV’s with local dimming, but the U8G can’t match the precision of a more expensive set like the Samsung QN90A. So, while the U8G’s peak brightness is similar, the QN90A has better contrast and black levels overall.
Despite some local dimming issues here and there, the set’s overall image quality is gorgeous for its price. Colors are vivid, detail is crisp, and
movies and TV shows look simply beautiful. That is, as long as you watch from a centered viewing position.
Like most LCD TVs with a vertical alignment (VA) panel, the U8G’s color and contrast does distort when viewing from the side. When watching a scene in “Ex Machina” where two characters stand in a room bathed in harsh red light, the deep red veers into orange when I move to the side of my couch. Black levels also fade from the side.
Mediocre viewing angles like this are common for TVs in this price range, and the U8G’s performance is similar to TCL and Vizio models. That said, more expensive OLED TVs and Samsung QLED models all deliver better viewing angles.
Android TV features
Though Google has a new smart TV platform called Google TV, the U8G runs on the company’s older Android TV operating system (OS). That said, Android TV recently received an updated design to make it look a lot like Google TV.
You still don’t get all the bells and whistles that the Google TV OS offers, but the latest Android TV interface looks and runs just fine. Navigation is simple, making it easy to sort and browse through apps and your most recently watched videos.
The platform pairs seamlessly with existing Google accounts and features access to virtually any popular service you could want. That includes Apple TV Plus, which was missing last year. 4K HDR playback and Dolby Atmos are also supported through most apps that offer such features.
At the end of the day, I still prefer to use a separate streaming box, like a Roku Ultra, but buyers who just want to use the TV’s built-in apps should find little to complain about.
Should you buy it?
The Hisense U8G is a great buy for anyone who wants a flagship 65-inch 4K TV for under $1,500. You can find more expensive TVs with better contrast, wider viewing angles, and more stylish designs but, for the money, the U8G delivers exceptional performance across the board.
What are your alternatives?
The Hisense U8G’s main competitors include other affordably priced flagship TVs from Vizio and TCL. The TV also holds its own against more expensive options from brands like Samsung.
The Vizio P-Series also offers a lot of value and delivers very similar picture quality. That said, it can’t get as bright as the U8G and it features fewer local dimming zones. I also prefer the Hisense model’s Android TV interface over Vizio’s SmartCast system.
On paper, the TCL 6-Series should have a slight edge over the U8G, thanks to its use of Mini LEDs which typically enable better contrast. There’s also a new TCL model with Google TV streaming built-in. But, despite the TCL’s use of Mini LEDs, the U8G actually has more dimming zones and beats it when it comes to peak HDR brightness.
If you’re willing to spend more, you can get better picture quality and a sleeker design with Samsung’s QN90A Neo QLED, LG’s CX OLED, or Sony’s A80J OLED. But those sets typically sell for $2,000 to $2,200. For $1,250 it’s hard to beat the Hisense U8G.
The bottom line
I’ve had issues with Hisense TVs in the past, but the company has really stepped up its game in recent years. The new 65-inch U8G is one of its best TVs yet, and its impressive HDR brightness manages to edge out similarly priced flagships from TCL and Vizio.
Viewing angles are mediocre, however, and despite the solid dimming performance, the set is still prone to some blooming. Those drawbacks are all in line with other TVs in this price range, though, and the image you get for the money is impressive.
If you’re looking for an affordable flagship 65-inch 4K TV with fantastic home theater performance, high brightness for daytime viewing, and reliable streaming, the U8G is an excellent choice.
Pros: Incredible HDR brightness for the price, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support, local dimming for solid contrast, quantum dots for wide color, HDMI 2.1 ports, Google Assistant
Cons: Mediocre viewing angles, thick screen profile, older Android TV system rather than Google TV, some visible blooming