Review: Hisense U8K - An Excellent Display for Bright Environments

Cupertino, August 7, 2023

With great power comes great responsibility. That's just one of the lessons I've learned over the years from Spider-Man, or, in this case, his various Uncle Bens. I think any Ben Parker would be proud of Hisense's latest model in the U8 TV range, the U8K (65U8K), which uses its powerful miniLED backlight system for nuclear-level brightness alongside responsibly tempered local dimming control for excellent contrast and black levels. The result is eye-popping, flagship-like performance at a mid-range price.
Like its predecessor, the U8H (8/10, recommended by WIRED), the U8K also has an intuitive, if somewhat sluggish, Google TV interface for simplified navigation and offers quick setup and a relatively stylish design. While not without its flaws, this affordable TV pushes the boundaries at both ends of the picture spectrum for a breathtaking experience unheard of in its class just a few years ago. Honestly, there aren't many better-performing TVs for bright rooms on any budget.
A solid package
Once you've lifted the surprisingly heavy U8K screen out of the box, the TV is a breeze to set up. A pair of interchangeable feet snap in with just a few screws in your choice of wide or narrow positions to fit a variety of TV consoles. The TV's slim, charcoal-colored bezels give it a snazzy overall look, though its tall, extra-long feet give off a slight duck-on-skates vibe. I appreciate their versatility, but the U8K looks more premium when you mount it.
Google TV's smart interface is also mercifully simple, offering a host of smart features such as Google Assistant voice control and support for Apple Homekit and AirPlay 2, and Amazon Alexa. If you're using the Google Home app, you should be up and running in minutes, especially if you've used Google TV in the past. I love features like automatic login for apps that use your Google history and the ability to use Google Photos albums as screensavers. I've been spending a lot of time with the Google TV operating system on other Sony and TCL TV models lately, and I was somewhat surprised to find Hisense's version is sometimes slower and choppy, even after a few firmware updates over the first few days with the TV. Still, it's not a major drawback, and I'm hopeful that Hisense will continue to refine its implementation over time - this is an early model of the U8K, after all.
When it comes to other features, the TV is as loaded as you'd expect at this price point. You get the full range of High Dynamic Range (HDR) formats for high brightness and voluminous colours, including HDR10+, HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) and Dolby Vision. The latter includes Dolby Vision IQ, designed to adjust contrast and brightness based on the ambient light in your room. I've disabled those settings for my review to get a baseline for the TV's overall performance, but it's there if you need it.
So. For example, if you want to watch older content on funky broadcast channels like MeTV, you'll need to go into the settings and dig up the screen mode under Picture to change from the default Wide to Auto. Otherwise your favorite Magnum PI eps will look squashed and warped. On the other hand, if you want to connect newer 4K content sources to HDMI inputs 1 and 2, you'll need to click the menu button and change the settings from Standard, designed for older input sources, to Enhanced to get full bandwidth for 4K HDR. Photo: Hisense

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