The Hisense H65AE6100UK is a massive 4K TV for not a lot of money. With a 65in 4K TV costing so eye-wateringly low a sum as £699, it is by far fairer to consider the features and talents it does possess as opposed to those it doesn’t.
After all, very few 65in 4K sets from the current big four companies in this market – namely Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and LG – are the right side of £1000, and none by the clear margin of this Hisense AE6100. To better put it in perspective, it’s the same price as Sony’s 43in KD-43XF8505 set we recently rated three stars.
Naturally, Hisense isn’t alone in the sub-£1000 4K TV market, but we can say from experience that a product’s being cheap isn’t always synonymous with it being a bargain. Encouraging, then, that the H65AE6100UK ticks a lot of boxes for a modern 4K set: Amazon and Netflix 4K HDR streaming are included, as is Freeview Play, HDR10 and HLG support – and it’s a pretty decent picture for the money.
There’s often little to admire aesthetically, or a tricky set-up to hold us back when testing a budget TV, so we waste no time in entering our Netflix login to this Hisense – and the video service’s recommendation of BBC’s Planet Earth II in 4K HDR is one once again we cannot ignore.
Upon detecting an HDR signal, the H65AE6100UK throws itself into HDR Day mode, which we’d stick with over the HDR Dynamic and HDR Night alternatives for its largely on-point colour balance and brightness level.
There’s an eye-catching intensity to the grand opening of the Cities episode, as Singapore’s lit-up Gardens by the Bay punch out against the night backdrop.
You don’t quite get the colour or contrast magnificence of the (albeit pricier) 4K LCD sets we’ve seen, or the shrewdness when it comes to subtler detail, but you can just about tell that HDR is at work here, and newcomers to 4K will notice they’re ogling a higher-than-usual resolution as close-ups of raccoons and fruits from the market in Jaipur fill the screen.
That’s essentially the 4K HDR story of this Hisense. While it surfaces differences within the superior content compared to that of HD SDR, it doesn’t quite possess the transparency, black depth or absolute brightness to really relish the intricacies of 4K HDR material.
The polished trams shine in the light, but are not resplendent; street lamps glow brightly but have only uniform shape and intensity; and Hyena eyes penetrate from the pitch-black with something only marginally bettering mediocrity.
We notice slight motion defects in background as monkeys jump from rooftop to rooftop and Peregrine falcons fly through Manhattan in the foreground, and we’re surprised to see there are no motion settings or modes to play with here. But it isn’t disruptive and the Hisense gets away with it, delivering overall stable and steady viewing.
Comparing Baby Driver in Ultra HD Blu-ray (4K, HDR10) with its standard Blu-ray counterpart, the Hisense offers the former slightly more pop. The robbers’ trench coats are deeper black, the gleam of buffed cars is more intense, and skin tones are more accurately and naturally shaded. Everything is just that bit richer.
It takes little scrutiny to appreciate the UHD version’s comparative spic-and-span cleanliness, though it doesn’t properly reflect the true jump between the formats to which we’re treated by market leaders.
Still, in a way, the almost-there Blu-ray performance is credit to the H65AE6100UK’s upscaler – which we’d argue is more crucial in a TV of this price than its native 4K performance.
We’ve no qualms with the HD performance either, and even with DVD the picture, while softer and not as defined, remains clear and with solid hues. Even for this amount of money, though, we’d really like better black depth. The black bars are a fair few shades lighter than the solid-black bezels by which they are bordered.
While we’re unable to tweak those aforementioned motion settings, there are differing modes for sound. We’d pick either ‘standard’ or ‘music’ (there’s not much between them) as our preference for the best tonal balance and clarity.
We’d also keep the ‘TotalSonics’ mode on – it adds clarity and makes the presentation sound less hollow and recessed.
We wouldn’t go beyond saying the Hisense’s audio performance is fine, but ultimately TV speakers aren’t going to make the most of the any show or film’s presentation, and a 65in TV deserves at least a soundbar accompaniment. Yamaha’s Award-winning YAS-207 (£259) would be a good match.
Despite our opening sentence, you should still be aware of what you’re sacrificing compared with some flagship fare. Most crucially, that would be a razor-thin build and self-emitting panel technology that delivers class-leading contrast and better overall quality pictures. Unsurprisingly there isn’t support for Dolby Vision HDR either.
The Hisense can play the most commonplace HDR format, HDR 10, from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and of course Ultra HD Blu-rays.
The AE6100 also supports Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), the prevalent broadcasting HDR standard. The Hisense A6200 TV range was included on BBC’s list of supported devices for its 4K HLG HDR iPlayer trials this summer – the only HLG content that’s so far been accessible in the UK – so we’d be hopeful this range would be supported for any future broadcasts.
HDR support HDR10, HLG
HDMI inputs 3
USB inputs 2
Tuner Freeview Play
Dimensions (hwd) 91.6 x 146 x 31.1cm
A 4K Blu-ray player and/or games console can be hooked up to the two HDMI inputs that are 2.0-certified (a third is 1.4). Two USB ports (one 3.0-certified, one 2.0-certified) are able to cater for media drives for 4K and HD playback, too.
No external sources? No problem. Freeview Play means the Hisense offers direct access not only to Freeview channels but also the UK’s suite of catch-up services (BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and My5), as well as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
All three apps (plus YouTube) have handy shortcut buttons on the supplied remote, and are all also featured via the home screen, which consists of a single horizontal scroll bar that your favourite, most-used apps can be added to. It’s more functional than flashy – a statement that also applies to the remote – but, most importantly, it’s simple to use.
Our only word of caution from a design perspective is that the set’s two feet stand near each end of the screen – a potential inconvenience depending on the size of your TV stand.
The H65AE6100UK may be a considerable step behind the class-leading TVs in terms of picture quality, but it nails the basics necessary to deliver HD and SD pictures while offering decent insight into 4K HDR material.
So our recommendation is simple: if your prime concern is size and budget, don’t be afraid to jump right in. If, however, your focus is on getting a fantastic 4K HDR picture, you’ll need to sacrifice size, or wait until you’re in a position to spend more.
- Picture 4
- Sound 4
- Features 5
- Ease of use 5
See all our Hisense reviews