Hisense 55" 55k610gwn
Just wanted to weigh in to this "official" thread, as I just recently acquired the 55" set I mentioned above. I bought a factory refurb, delivered to my door. For $525 CDN total (taxes and shipping all in) this set is off the hook, considering the set is 55", smart, and 120Hz. According to my PS3, the display is 3D capable as well, even though this is not advertised.
I've been a big fan of discount TV brands, as I've known so many people who buy expensive sets, do no adjustments, and have lousy pictures. My experience has been that almost any well-adjusted value set can look better than a poorly adjusted brand name set. For example, I have a 4 year old 40" Dynex LCD from Best Buy that has better adjustability and viewing angles than an LG 47" LCD that predated it by 1 year. Back in the mid-2000s, I also had an old Viore (yes, Viore) DLP that I could adjust better than a friend's wicked expensive JVC d-ila set.
Also did some research into both Haier as well as Hisense before purchasing the TV. Both are Chinese OEMs who are now getting into branding their own products, and are marketing them direct into North America. Apparently these two brand names are more common in other parts of the world, and I do own an 8-year old Haier air conditioner that has had the holy hell kicked out of it, yet it still functions as designed.
These TVs seem to be shrouded in mystery. Does Hisense make their own panels then sell them to others? Do others make panels that Hisense then buys? Is it related somehow to an LG, Samsung, or other mainline brand? Or did Hisense make OEM brands Insignia, Dynex, etc for other manufacturers, and is just now branding them themselves? The Internet is about as reliable as a Dollar Tree watch in presenting any information concretely.
However, the main deciding factor for me was that "the" local "prestige" electronics retailer started carrying Hisense TVs. This retailer has built a reputation on quality products and service, and would not risk its reputation on carrying something of an inferior nature. To give some context, this retailer is where you go locally to hear premium turntable demonstrations, and carries brands such as Anthem, Arcam, McIntosh, and Marantz.
So based on this endorsement, I thought it would be worth taking a flyer on the set especially considering the price, and the fact that after four years, I could no longer take the glare off my 50" LG plasma anymore. It now resides happily in the basement. And to help out those thinking of buying a Hisense TV, I thought it may be of value to post a descriptive breakdown on the TV to help them make a decision on giving a chance to a new Chinese manufacturer.
Appearance: It looks like a TV. However, it does have a narrow silver trimmed bezel, and a reasonably sized , traditionally-styled base. When powered off, the Hisense logo at the bottom of the screen is illuminated (sexy!). So from an appearance perspective, it is a step above generic TVs from 2nd and 3rd tier brands, and has a look comparable to the mainline TVs.
Connections: Plenty galore, including 4 HDMI in and optical audio out. I run everything through a NAD receiver to one HDMI input, and everything worked flawlessly with no HDMI handshake or drop issues.
Remote: I use a Harmony, but this remote is also well above those seen in the 2nd and 3rd tier manufacturers. It is solid in heft, with an aluminum trimmed navigation circle, and one-touch buttons for smart apps such as Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube. With a white back on the remote, it looks clean and modern, and has well-marked good functionality. Only negative is an absence of backlighting. Regardless, this remote is well-above anything I have seen in a discount TV previously, and is again comparable with a remote seen on a mainline brand TV.
Manual: Poor, with basic set-up info, and a link to the manual on the Hisense website. Not an issue for me, but certainly could be a problem for the less technically inclined.
Initial Set-Up: Easy and flawless, with well-translated menus walking you through your initial setup. No issues connecting to my home wi-fi.
On-Screen menus: Easy to navigate, logically set up, and with plenty of choices to keep the tweaker tweaking for weeks. Plus picture adjustments minimize to a slider bar when being adjusted, allowing you to see the effect of your changes across the entire screen.
Sound: User a receiver, HTIB, or sound bar. The dimensions of these TVs means that built in speakers will sound bad. Period.
Picture quality: Well this is really the important part, isn't it? Out of the box, the thing looked ghastly. Way too hot, and light colored areas solarized. Issues with skin tones. A quick visit through the different video presets confirmed that all showed that none really met my standards for image. Too dark or too light. Colors tending towards the cooler end of the spectrum.
Also, when the screen was on but no image fed, there was both clouding and flashlighting.....quite badly I must add.
So after changing the temperature to warm, ensuring the sharpness wasn't overcranked, setting the 120hz effect to "low", pixel mapping 1 to 1, and adjusting the contrast and brightness to reasonable levels (using greyscale bars), I was pleased to find:
- Skin tones were natural
- Black levels were good
- Flashlighting and clouding were now low and tolerable (based on comparisons of testing done on rtings.com)
- Smearing and streaking were near undetectable, with no extraordinay lag issues
The downside was this TV now showed all of the flaws in my satellite signal (fed at its native 1080i). Macroblocking, signal compression, etc. were all visible within 5' of the TV. 10' away, these were no longer distracting. The challenges of frame interpolation with this also appeared to cause some judder, and odd refreshes of the screen.
Overall though, the HD picture was sharp, clear, and well defined. Noise reduction on low seemed effective, and smoothed the feed without crushing it. And as expected, SD signals looked poor with excessive image softness, though I will explore this more to see if the image can be improved between my receiver and the TV. Any SD signal blown up to 55" will look poor, period, though there may still be room for improvement here.
However, the better test (to me) is blu-ray (via my PS3), as I'm not dealing with the bandwidth limitations caused by my satellite provider. In went one of my favorite demo discs, Despicable Me 2. The result? In one word, superb.
Detail was fantastic, including even near microscopic details, such as the frizzy strands of Edith's pink knit hat clearly visible. Textures were crisp, clear, and well-defined, colors popped, and black levels were good. The 120hz effect also smoothed the picture effectively, with no detected artifacts, skips, or strange interpolations. Certainly very bright to very dark transitions combined with quick movement didn't have the crisp smooth flow my plasma had, but what sub $2,000 LED does? It was notably better than both my FIL's Samsung and my brother's Sony. A friend has a higher-end Panasonic, and the Hisense gave up very little to the Panny. I would wager the less tech-minded would have difficulty discerning between the two.
One of the few online reviews of this set suggests the picture tends strongly towards blue. It certainly did out of the box, though using a warm setting made the picture look very natural to me.
Overall, I am very pleased with the picture the set had, and it reinforces that virtually any set can be made to look bad or good, all depending on how much time and effort one is willing to put in to making the picture look good. I do sill need to put it through a "live sports" test, but am concerned that the highly compressed satellite feed I have will somewhat color this test. Based on the quality of the video for Despicable Me 2, I also suspect this TV will be suitable for at least the casual gamer.
Apps: They worked well, with less load/lag time than I get from my PS3, and they positively destroyed the load time I got from my old Panasonic Smart Blu-Ray player. I do have bandwidth issues where I live, and did encounter some lag and drop of resolution - I would tend to assign fault for this to the Internet connection more than I would to the TV.
In summary, if you are on a budget, and are looking for a TV with a few bells and whistles, then I would suggest taking a good long look at this product from Hisense. Is it a perfect TV? No, but I saw nothing that indicates its performance was inferior to mid range offerings from the mainline manufacturers, especially considering the price. I cannot comment to long-term durability or customer service, but purchasing from a reputable dealer should certainly manage this risk for you. Plus, at the price of the set, you should be able to afford some extended warranty.
...one final thought...
In some respects, my experience with this TV reminds me of my experience with my first Samsung (a 27" CRT). When I bought it back in 1999, I really would have liked a Sony or Hitachi, even though the picture was only marginally superior. However, the Hitachi and Sony were 20-35% more than the Samsung, and I just could not afford it at the time. So home came the Samsung, and it gave me yeoman service for many years, despite that I was told it was "inferior quality" and "Korean junk".
As we know, Korean manufacturing has since caught up with Japanese manufacturing, and Samsung is now a brand of choice for many who are shopping for TVs. But to get their foot into the North American market, Samsung needed to be priced in a way to get the brand name recognition, and to build up customer loyalty.
I am thinking this is the same path Hisense is taking. Build a quality product, and sell it for low margin, just to get the brand built in the marketplace. One only has to look back 3 years, and Hisense didn't exist in North America. Now it can be found at a number of retailers, and I expect this number to grow, much like it did for Samsung. Who knows, 10-12 years from now, Hisense may be the next Samsung?
Music: Musical Fidelity A3.2, Soliloquy 6.2, CEC/White (original AT-10 cartridge) Turntable, H/K CD
HT: Marantz SR5009, Wharfedale Diamond 10.6, Mirage Surrounds, AR MC1 Center, PS3, JVC Jukebox