A ULED TV is not some new panel technology you haven’t heard of, it’s simply Hisense’s label for its premium LCD sets that use an LED backlight. Despite achieving some success last year, the Chinese manufacturer has opted to ditch OLED for 2020, but claims its cheaper ULED technology is more than a match, particularly when it comes to contrast.
The Hisense 55U7QFTUK is a ULED television, a UK-only 55in 4K HDR set, just one step down from the flagship model. With some promising recent success for Hisense in terms of What Hi-Fi? reviews, we’re excited to see what it can offer at this level.
This is a direct-lit LED TV with local dimming abilities. It promises over one billion colours through its Quantum Dot Colour system and claims a contrast performance equal to OLED. Throw in support for both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, and it all looks good on paper.
And the Hisense 55U7QFTUK is a good-looking television, certainly as good as we’d expect any mid-range TV to look. It has a minimal bezel and its chrome, one-piece stand is not only a nice accent to the aesthetic, but also practical in terms of function and fit, giving it a maximum depth of 25cm.
Inputs HDMI 2.0 x4, USB 2.0 x2
Voice control Amazon Alexa
Power output 2x 10W speakers
Peak brightness 700 nits
Dimensions (hwd) 70.4 x 111 x 25cm (with stand)
As for connectivity, there are four HDMI 2.0 sockets, including ARC support, and two USB 2.0 ports for hard drive media playback. There is also Bluetooth for wireless audio and an optical out for digital sound. Gamers will be happy to find that input lag is good at sub-20ms.
Inside this set is a digital tuner, with the Freeview Play service built-in. As ever, it makes for a usable EPG and a decent set of catch-up services, however, the VIDAA U4 Smart TV operating system comes up short on apps. Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube are all present, but notable absentees include Now TV, BT Sport, Apple TV, Google Play Movies & TV and Disney+.
There are a few interesting extras, including UEFA TV, alongside stalwarts such as Rakuten and Chili, but to fill those missing gaps you will need to purchase a media streamer and plug it into one of those four HDMI sockets.
The rest of the VIDAA U4 experience is basically fine, and if that sounds like damning with faint praise, then it probably is. It’s usable, responsive and pleasant looking but, as with many TV UIs, we aren't convinced that the content suggestions are all that helpful, particularly when they require subscriptions and rental fees to access them. We do, at least, like that the content is grouped by genre and that it’s made clear which service they’re on before you select them.
The solid, tidy and full-featured remote control is well-appointed and features a handful of shortcut buttons to the main video services. VIDAA U4 also includes built-in support for voice control through Amazon Alexa, if you’d rather talk to your television.
This TV has a problem with motion when watching 24fps content. Unfortunately, that includes most film and premium TV, whether played from a disc or streamed from a service such as Netflix, or through a media streamer.
We watch Spider-man Homecoming on 4K Blu-ray, and even small movements are blurry. There’s smearing in action scenes, but the effect is actually worse during close-up shots. Slight movements of a head, the type of which are frequent in any film or TV show, cause this TV issues. It's a trait that was fairly common of cheaper LCD sets a few years ago, but that we haven't seen for quite a while.
There are several settings and processor modes that you can use to try to find a balance that works but, ultimately, none of them fully solve the underlying problem. It’s a shame because there are some good things about this TV’s picture performance.
The Staten Island Ferry scene shows that this Hisense has a good handle on colour. The blue sky, the yellow ferry and the red of Spider-man’s suit are all vibrant and well-matched. Looking to the clouds or the dark hull of the ferry, and it’s not too crude with HDR and contrast either.
There’s some careful shading of these parts of the picture and some decent light and dark detail. The depth and solidity to the image is enhanced by the Dolby Vision Dark picture mode, which gives added subtlety to Dolby Vision content.
However, the black depth could be better. There’s too much bleed from the LED lighting and inconsistency across the panel to get those dramatic low-lights and the intensity dips further when viewed from even slightly off-axis.
But even among these disappointments, it is still possible to appreciate that Hisense has got plenty right with this TV.
Switching down to SDR with Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 on Blu-ray, the motion is a little better. Somewhere between the upscaling and the lack of native detail, the two factors balance out to make the picture easier on the eye.
Unfortunately, there’s also a loss in terms of colour depth and accuracy. The crash scene on Xandar at the end of the film is a good place to spot this. The three way close-ups between the blue-faced Yondu, green-skinned Gamora and Peter Quill’s human complexion are off the mark. The balance between them is even but each feels slightly off the hue that they should be.
Switch to standard-def content from the built-in tuner and the Hisense copes much better, largely because the higher frame rate of the signal requires less processing from the TV, and the motion smearing issue is almost gone.
Watching the BBC news in Full HD, the close-ups of the in-studio correspondents are good, there’s reasonable upscaled skin detail and colour balance and vibrancy throughout the picture remains strong.
In short, while film buffs and premium TV addicts will likely struggle with the Hisense's performance, those who live on a televisual diet consisting mostly of live and catch-up TV may find far less to complain about.
Along with HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision, the Hisense 55U7QFTUK is Dolby Atmos-enabled, but the modest two 10W speaker arrangement doesn’t do much to create a sense of space to the sound. Watching the Kiln prison break scene in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2, the flying machine gun drones all sound far too close to the panel itself to add much excitement.
We’d recommend that you have the Dolby Atmos processing toggled on. It makes the sound thin but, without it, the audio is muffled and wobbly. It’s a disappointing trade-off to have to make and one we’d recommend that you avoid by purchasing a soundbar to accompany this TV. Without one, there’s simply not enough bass or dynamic range to the delivery, and the film's brilliant music lacks substance and drive.
Of all the TV's sound modes, Theatre gives the best possible sense of space and, even if weightless and uninspiring, at least the dialogue and the rest of the audio is easy to hear.
Considering it's one of Hisense’s top-end TVs, there's no getting around the fact that the 55U7QFTUK is a disappointment.
It has a strong feature set and performs fairly well in some aspects, but the smeary motion undoes a lot of the good work the set does elsewhere.
Ultimately, there are far better TVs available for this sort of money, such as the Panasonic TX-58HX800, which give us very little reason to recommend this Hisense.
- Picture 3
- Sound 2
- Features 4
Read our Panasonic TX-58HX800 review