The Hisense U9A isn’t the sleekest of TVs, but given its screen size, the direct LED backlight and the number of dimming zones that should hardly come as a surprise. The build quality is excellent, and as with many of its TVs, Hisense uses a lot of metal. Its design is probably best described as industrial, with a silver and black finish, and support running along the entire bottom front length of the screen.

At the rear, there is a large perspex block that provides support and weight to balance the entire TV, and the screen itself is at an angle. Hisense hasn’t made any spurious claims to the slant improving picture quality in the way that Sony did with the A1, but the reason is obvious: this TV is big and heavy, if it toppled forward it could, quite literally, kill someone.

Connections

The connections are at the rear on the left-hand side as you face the screen. As with other Hisense TVs, the U9A uses a combination of rearwards and sideways facing connections, with those at the side measuring 280mm from the edge. The rearwards facing connections are comprised of two HDMI 1.4 inputs (4K/30p and CEC), an optical digital audio input, a composite video input, a stereo analogue audio input, and a LAN port, although there’s also built-in Wi-Fi (802.11ac, dual-band 2.4 and 5GHz).

The sideways facing connections are composed of two HDMI 2.0 inputs (4K/60p, HDR, CEC and HDCP 2.2), one of which supports ARC (Audio Return Channel) and the other supports MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link). There are also three USB ports (two 2.0 and one 3.0), Freeview HD and satellite tuners, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a CI (Common Interface) slot.

It’s disappointing that even on its flagship TV, Hisense has seen fit to only include two HDMI 2.0 inputs, but it isn’t the only manufacturer to do that – both Sony and Philips have form in this area.

 

Remote

The remote included with the Hisense U9A is the company’s standard controller and uses an attractive dark silver trim and a nice brushed finish. It feels well-made and is suitably balanced in the palm, with large buttons that are easy to read, but it also fits comfortably in your hand and the main keys are all within reach of your thumb.

That’s because the controls are sensibly laid out with the navigation buttons in the centre, the numbers, volume and channel buttons above and the coloured keys and media player buttons below. There is a home key for accessing the VIDAA U Smart TV system but there are also direct access buttons for Netflix, YouTube, and Media content.

Functionality

The Hisense U9A includes the company’s VIDAA U Smart TV platform, which isn’t as sophisticated as some some of the competition, but does include most of the features you would need. It’s also stable and relatively responsive, and while it isn’t as fast as LG’s WebOS or Samsung’s Q Smart, it’s quicker than the Android TV platform used by Sony.

You access VIDAA U by pressing the Home button on the remote, which then provides you with the option of choosing Freeview Play, Apps, Inputs, Media and Settings. You can also directly access Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Freeview, Inputs and Settings using dedicated buttons on the remote control.

You can access the EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) using the Guide button on the remote, and this displays five channels over a three hour period. Thanks to Freeview Play you can also move backwards and watch many of the programmes you missed using the UK TV catch-up services. You can also attach a hard drive and time shift by recording programmes, although you can’t watch one channel and record another because there’s only one tuner.

The smart platform might be relatively simplistic compared to the competition, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Content is easy to find and, most importantly, the platform includes the majority of the main video streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube. All three support 4K and HDR, while the BBC iPlayer app also supports 4K and HLG. The only major streaming service missing from a UK perspective is NOW TV.

The smart platform also includes a web browser, and it supports DLNA, allowing you to access content on your home network. There was, however, one problem. When connected wirelessly to my network, I kept losing the Wi-Fi setup; so every time I turned on the TV I had to set up the Wi-Fi again. It was fine if I used a wired connection, but very annoying if I went wireless.

The Hisense uses a quad core processor and can upscale lower resolution content to match the 4K panel. It also has a 3D digital comb filter and can decode HEVC (H,265), VP9, H.264, MPEG4, MPEG2, VC1 and MVC. The media player can handle video, music and photos, and while it handled the majority of my files without issue, it couldn’t playback Apple lossless files.

Sound Quality

The sound quality of the U9A was somewhat disappointing considering it has a forward-firing built-in soundbar. The sheer size of the screen meant that the audio had good stereo separation, and the TV could create a wide, front soundstage. The depth of the chassis and the solid build quality also helped, and yet there was something missing.

The problem might stem from the fact that despite its size, the U9A only has 15W of amplification per channel and thus felt somewhat underwhelming. The sound just lacked any real presence and felt insipid and rather constrained. It was fine with simple audio such as the news, documentaries and other programmes that rely primarily on voice-overs.

However, with more complex soundtracks like TV dramas and movies, the U9A struggled to deliver an immersive and clearly defined soundstage. Surprisingly, considering the size, the bass was also very limited, robbing soundtracks of much of their impact.

Picture Performance

Vivid Setting: This mode has the backlight set too high, the colours are over-saturated, and the whites have too much blue in them. The Ultra Motion Plus is also on, as are all the noise reduction and sharpening features, which is to be expected. It’s fine for catching your attention in a store, but not for watching TV at home.
Standard Setting: This is the setting that the TV defaults to and whilst it’s definitely better than Vivid, it’s still uses many of the same settings. So the backlight is too high, the colours are garish, and whites are blue. Many of the image processing and frame interpolation features are also still on, resulting in images that are overly-smooth and digital in appearance.
Cinema Night Setting: This is the best picture mode to select because it’s fairly accurate. The Backlight should be set according to your environment, the local dimming set to medium, and Sharpness to zero. In addition you should turn Adaptive Contrast, Noise Reduction, and MPEG Noise Reduction off. Finally, make sure Colour Temperature is set to warm, Colour Gamut to auto, Ultra Motion Plus to film, and Gamma Adjustment to 2.4.
Aspect Ratio: The best way to ensure you get the correct aspect ratio with no overscanning to rob the image of fine detail is to select the Direct option, this will pixel map the content to the 4K panel. However you can also select the Auto option, but make sure Overscan is set to off in the Picture menu.
SDR Gaming Performance: The U9A makes for an enjoyable and immersive gaming experience in SDR, with a big, bright and detailed image that draws you into the game. A few sessions of Star Wars Battlefront showed that the Hisense was capable of rendering the game on a screen that big, and the motion handling appeared fluid.

Opinion

Okay this might be a bit unusual but you would expect an air mouse for this price the standard remote isn’t bad but it would make life easier,
Overall it’s a great tv, remembering that this is a Hisense and what they have done is very reassuring. For a boardroom, small halls and the new 4k home cinema room, this is awesome. Your sound won’t be amazing but the 65 inch size compensates for it’s somewhat basic functionality. it shows video and images at a very good quality for less than what the competition is charging, for that its right on the money.
Hisense is definitely not trying to impress with functionality. I can’t find many faults with the u9a, what i wouldn’t recommend is that you Mount it on a bracket in your non-concrete reinforced living room nor should you buy it expecting to be blown away by its uniqueness or even sound, it’s a decent device
with Pricing ranges from 13,999 – 16999 which is cheaper than most competitors its worth a shot.

Many thanks to Aphiwe and the guys at Eclipse Public Relations for sending us the u9a.