We were promised that one day OLED would become much more affordable, but seeing a new model arrive with a price tag under £1500 still creates a frisson of excitement around these parts. Let’s not forget that LG’s core 2019 OLED model of this size launched at £2500.
But with this Hisense O8B using an LG panel, it’s tempting to assume that you’ll get a similar performance for significantly less money. However, a TV’s performance is dictated by much more than the panel alone.
It’s also worth pointing out that LG’s 2019 OLEDs have significantly dropped in price and, at the time of writing, the gap between the Hisense O8B and LG C9 is just £200. Of course, that’s not an insignificant sum, but it does mean that the Hisense won’t get by on affordability alone.
The Hisense O8B is a stylish TV. It has all of the usual styling cues expected of an OLED TV – super-slim bezels and the exceptional thinness to parts of its profile afforded by the lack of a backlight – but it also boasts a wide and rather elegant pedestal stand. However, our sample doesn’t feel particularly steady, with a fair bit of wobble.
The glossy finish of the name badge at the bottom of the set seems a little tacky too, but we’re really picking holes here in what is largely a smart-looking set.
Screen type OLED
Operating system VIDAA U
HDR formats HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
There are two remotes in the box, which is pretty common these days. It’s a little baffling here though, as the button selection and layout are the same on both. Still, there’s nothing wrong with having a spare remote tucked away in case you lose one.
The O8B’s operating system is a rather rudimentary but straightforward affair. The app selection is unspectacular but covers most of the major bases: Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are present in 4K and HDR, while BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 and My 5 are also all on board. Rakuten is the only option for pay-as-you-go movie streaming, though, and it doesn’t deliver 4K or HDR to the Hisense, which is a bit of a shame. As is the lack of Now TV.
The physical connections include four HDMIs, one of which features ARC (but not eARC), two USBs, aerial and satellite sockets, an optical output and an ethernet connection. Wi-fi is also built-in.
This is, of course, a 4K set, and it supports Dolby Vision as well as HDR10 and HLG. HDR10+ doesn’t feature, but that’s unlikely to put many people off for now.
We press play on the 4K Blu-ray of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 and it quickly becomes clear that the O8B’s default settings simply won’t do. We flick between the preset picture modes and find them all lacking: HDR Dynamic is over the top, while HDR Day and HDR Night are dull.
After much tweaking, we end up with a halfway house that uses HDR Day as its foundation but adds some of the settings from HDR Dynamic. This gives us an image that’s rich without being noticeably unnatural, sharp without obvious over-processing, and bright without looking blown out.
Characters and objects are solid and crisply rendered, standing out from the background and lending the image a three-dimensional quality that, while not class-leading, is pleasant in its own right. The brightest parts of the picture also stand out just as they should, and the detail displayed within is impressive.
As we view the Sovereign planets from space, many sets overexpose the shiny, metallic panels, washing out the detail of the most prominent gold section in particular. Not so the Hisense O8B, which does a great job of making the gold glint striking while still revealing the intricate pattern of fine lines on the surface.
But look closer, and there is also evidence that the Hisense isn’t in the same league as the best in class. The not entirely neutral colour balance isn’t much of an issue, as the richness is perfectly pleasant, but the O8B is also lacking the nuance and subtlety of a rival such as the LG C9, with a certain amount of blocking and banding as one shade shifts to another. It means skin tones, in particular, don’t always look quite as authentic as they should.
Dark detail is lacking, too. You get the beautiful, dramatic blacks for which OLED is famed, but they’re not particularly insightful. The Hisense is far from the only model to suffer this slight flaw – the Philips 55OLED804 is similar – but it is one that LG has overcome with its 2019 sets.
The Hisense’s motion processing is also lacking. We try all of the available settings and find that there’s an obvious shimmer around fast-moving objects, such as the speeding car in the opening of Guardians, which looks as if it’s in a bubble that’s distorting everything around it. The only solution is to turn the motion processing off entirely, but this results in a more blurry and juddery delivery than is offered by many rivals.
Motion remains an issue when you move to 1080p content, but the Hisense otherwise does a good job with the lower resolution, standard dynamic range video. The colour balance is still a touch rich, but in a pleasant way, the image is sharp and detailed without looking over-enhanced, whites are punchy and pure, and blacks are perfectly deep, albeit still lacking a little in detail.
Drop further down, to standard definition, and the image is a little bit noisier than that offered by the best in class, but still perfectly watchable in its own right, with good overall balance and control.
The O8B’s sound system is more or less invisible from the front, so expectations are pretty low. With that in mind, the sound isn’t bad.
There’s a definite lack of bass weight and overall spaciousness when compared with more premium TVs, but there’s reasonable clarity and directness, particularly through the midrange. That ensures that dialogue in particular is easy to follow, which is good news for everyday TV viewing.
For anything more serious than that, though, you really should upgrade the audio by adding, at least, a soundbar. Even the affordable Yamaha YAS-207 would prove a huge sonic upgrade on the Hisense’s own integrated speakers.
The Hisense O8B is a decent TV that falls foul of the aggressive discounting of LG’s 2019 OLEDs. If we were looking at launch prices, the O8B would undercut the LG C9 hugely, making it a five-star value proposition.
But the C9 isn’t currently much more expensive than the O8B, and that means the Hisense model has to be held to higher standards. Standards that it doesn’t quite meet.
That said, this is a fine TV in its own right, and one that’s unlikely to disappoint – particularly if you find it discounted beyond the £1299 price that we've tested it at.
- Picture 4
- Sound 4
- Features 4
Read our LG OLED55C9PLA review
Read our Philips 55OLED804 review