Hisense U7H Review – IGN

At a certain point, it’s very difficult to make a decent television that is “cheap.” Eventually, the parts necessary to make up the display get noticeably worse when even dropping $50 or $100, which is why it’s pretty impressive that Hisense was able to create the U7H, a television that performs remarkably well despite cutting $200 off the top line.

For most budget-conscious buyers, these cuts will be worth it to get to that sub-$1,000 (and often far cheaper) level without losing the most important features like a solid level of brightness, 4K at 120Hz gaming support, and the ability to display multiple HDR profiles.

Hisense U7H – Design and Build

The Hisense U7H doesn’t deviate too far from historical Hisense design and even retains one of the better features of its more expensive brother, the U8H, in the ability to mount the legs at two different widths. The photos of the TV in this review are spaced at their widest, but if you are using a smaller media console, the legs can be mounted several inches closer to the middle of the screen, allowing it to fit more easily in tight spaces.

The overall appearance of the television is extremely similar to the U8H and previous generation Hisense displays. From the front, there is very little to distract you from the screen since it features very thin bezels on the right, left, and top of the television. On the bottom is a slim silver bar that houses the Hisense logo, which disappears from your vision when you’re watching any content. From the side, it’s not going to win any design awards, but I don’t find it particularly off-putting either. It’s a simple overall design that is commonplace because it’s inoffensive.

One major difference between this U7H and the higher-end U8H are the feet. While the U8H used a flatter, boxier design, the U7H went for the more common wide-spread four-leg design. From the front, I don’t have a preference, but the cable management hiding behind the U7H’s rear legs is markedly worse. While it easily can hold the power cable for the television, it isn’t large enough to accommodate a single HDMI 2.1 cable – these fatter cables won’t even fit through the bendable plastic parts that guide the cable management along the rear leg, and even if you did have a thinner HDMI 2.0 cable, good luck fitting more than one in there at a time. Those who wall-mount won’t care about this, but if you’re like me and prefer to use a console, it’s less than ideal.

The rear of the TV sports four HDMI ports, two of which support HDMI 2.1 for 4K at 120Hz gaming – one is a dedicated eARC port, however, so if you use HDMI speakers, one of those high-performance ports will need to be sacrificed. I was hard on the U8H for only offering two high-performance HDMI ports, but at this lower price level, two are more in line with expectations. The U7H also features two USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port, digital and analog audio ports, and a composite video input. The television also supports WiFi (2.4 and 5 GHz) and Bluetooth 5.0. Again, all of this is very similar if not outright identical to the U8H, which goes to show how much Hisense was able to keep while still cutting the price.

Along those lines of similarity, the U7H also has the same privacy-invading feature that the U8H does. Below the aforementioned silver bar at the base of the television is a small area that houses a physical switch that lets you turn the smart home-connected microphone on or off. By default, it is on and when you switch it off, the television displays four very bright yellow LEDs that do not turn off. These cannot be turned off outside of letting Google listen to you all the time, and as I said with the U8H, I feel like the television is punishing you for not wanting Google to listen in all the time.

I find this intrusion to be particularly glaring, and while I was more forgiving of it last year when I first encountered it, I’m becoming less willing to look past it and will specifically call this out as a downside to owning a Hisense.

Hisense U7H – The Remote

The remote for the U7H is identical to that for the U8H and features a prominent Google button at the top, a large control pad in the middle, and six quick-access streaming service shortcuts at the bottom.

This particular model came with Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, Disney+, Tubi, and Peacock, but the particular arrangement you’ll find could be different.

I like Hisense remotes. I think they strike a good balance of size versus options and sit between Samsung’s overly simple remotes and classic Sony remotes that look like they could be used to control the International Space Station. Hisense Remotes are also one of the few that can stand up on their base vertically, which I like but also recognize is kind of a silly thing to praise.

Hisense U7H – Software and UI

Hisense uses stock Google TV for the main interface and its own system for managing device settings. Google TV is probably my current favorite smart TV interface because once you turn on apps-only mode, you really get the most minimal, least invasive interface that is currently available. Outside of a top banner of “what to watch” advertisements, there is no autoplay and an easy route to getting to your favorite apps.

The rest of the interface, which Hisense developed, is relatively simple but needlessly separates some features from others. For example, using on-screen prompts it is easy to find where you can go to set the picture profile and adjust brightness and contrast, but it is impossible to get to the area to enable the HDMI ports to provide their full power.

Basically, for reasons I’ll never understand, Hisense locks the HDMI 2.1 ports out of full functionality unless you manually go in and turn them from Standard to Enhanced. Doing this requires not that you peruse the gear menu where all the other features are found, but specifically hit a button on the remote (an icon that looks like two lines in a box and is found right below the volume buttons) to get to an additional menu that allows you to do this. Separating this extremely necessary option, especially for gamers, from the rest of the settings menu makes no sense to me. Additionally, not only is it hard to find, but when the U7H is set up right out of the box, most gamers are going to be very confused as to why they can’t get 4K HDR or 120Hz out of a PlayStation 5 even when they’re plugged into the correct port.

This isn’t an issue specific to the U7H, as the U8H also has this same design, but where the U7H does differ is in a noticeable lag due to what I can only assume is a lower-quality processor. While there are many areas that the U7H manages to keep top-tier performance despite the lower price, this isn’t one of them. Navigating menus and the Google TV interface is just a bit slow and there were multiple times that it didn’t register a button press for a second, resulting in it jumping around the interface rapidly as all the inputs kicked in at once. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but worth noting.

Hisense U7H – Picture Quality

While there have been a few features I’ve noted that indicate where Hisense was able to trim features in order to cut down the cost of the television, none are more noticeable than with the display. Compared to the 504 local dimming zones found on the 65-inch version of the U8H, the U7H has a mere 90. The unfortunate fact is that you can’t cut down to less than a fifth of the number of dimming zones and achieve anywhere near the same performance.

While the casual television and movie enjoyer won’t likely notice the difference, especially if they had never seen the higher-end U8H before, there are some problems that crop up in gaming that are simply due to physical limitations.

You can’t expect the U7H to be able to present both very dark and very bright areas accurately at the same time. If you’re playing a game and you’re in the mouth of a cave looking out, both the very dark areas around the cave opening and the brightness of the outside will not display together. While the television generally will pick one of these regions depending on how much of the screen one is taking up over the other, I actually ran into a couple of scenarios where it picked neither, leaving me unable to see what I was doing at all until I moved either farther back into the darkness or out into the light.

The U7H also isn’t aided by a Mini LED backlight like the U8H is. It also can’t get as bright – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t capable of some extreme brightness. Hisense has been producing some of the most glare-resistant, bright televisions that exist at any price, and the U7H is no different – able to reach 1,000 nits peak. That’s 500 nits less than the U8H, but in a majority of cases, no one would notice.

While contrast is relatively good, especially considering the price, the U7H isn’t capable of pitch-dark, inky blacks. This is helped a great deal by the television’s excellent brightness though, especially if you’re watching it in dark environments. During the day and when looking at it from off-angles, it can appear to wash out though.