​Review: Hisense’s amazing ULED TV beats Samsung’s entire range

One of the cheapest TVs on the market is also the best

Superb colours, great upscaling, great contrast, low price. What's not to love?

Superb colours, great upscaling, great contrast, low price. What's not to love?

Samsung 6000 Series

Samsung's 6000 series will please most people with its finest quality abilities.
Samsung's 6000 series will please most people with its finest quality abilities.

The lowest end of Samsung’s 4K range, is the 6000 series. This is not available as a curved model but flat-panel sizes come in 40in (UA40KU6000W - $1,399), 50in (UA50KU6000W - $1,899), 55in (Reviewed - UA55KU6000W - $2,199), 60in (UA60KU6000W - $2,999), 65in (UA65KU6000W - $3,899) and 70in (UA70KU6000W - $5,199) variants. It’s a bit thicker than all of the side-lit models but not by much. All connectors are in the back as with regular TVs and only Samsung’s basic, ugly "accessible" remote is available. We don’t actually miss the smart remote – give us buttons instead of touch-pads every day – but that comes down to personal preference.

When displaying the best quality 4K content, detail was generally very good. It uses Samsung’s previous-generation Purcolour technology which will be acceptable to most people for general viewing but, alongside the newer models, looks rather subdued. It was very good at displaying vibrant blues, though. However, the 6000 Series uses LED backlighting from the rear (not the sides) which allows for “local dimming.” This actually meant that in movies, letterbox bars stayed impressively black and that, remarkably, contrast was actually better than the more-expensive side-lit siblings.

The back-lit nature of the 6000 Series means contrast and blacks are actually better than many of Samsung's more-expensive TVs.
The back-lit nature of the 6000 Series means contrast and blacks are actually better than many of Samsung's more-expensive TVs.

Upscaling could be an issue. Even HD content could turn blocky and almost cartoon-like in some instances. Low quality cartoons saw characters surrounded by blocky artefacts. We see this everywhere to some extent but it’s mediocre on the 6000 series. Also, in areas of uniform colour, artefacting was an issue – big blocky patches of colour get distracting on screen. We’ve seen it before on cheaper TVs. Better TVs manage to show uniform colour.

Blocky artefacts and rough edges cause an almost cartoon-like effect when upscaling regular HD content.
Blocky artefacts and rough edges cause an almost cartoon-like effect when upscaling regular HD content.

However, sound was good and rounded and got loud.

Ultimately, while the prices are low, Hisense’s are much lower and quality and value is better across the board: the 70-inch model is $1,200 cheaper while other models are all a few hundred dollars cheaper. There’s no One Remote so fitting it in with other Samsung home-theatre products isn’t really an issue. This is an easy win for Hisense which is better in every way.

Samsung 7000 Series

Samsung's 7000 Series curved TVs are among the cheapest curved units you can buy.
Samsung's 7000 Series curved TVs are among the cheapest curved units you can buy.

The picture on the 7000 series feels very similar to the 6000... with all the foibles. Samsung calls the picture technology “Active Crystal Colour” but side by side with the 6000 series we couldn’t tell any significant difference. However, the lighting technology is different (it’s side-lit rather than rear-lit) which makes the screen thinner. However, this also means that black reproduction isn’t quite as good – letterbox bars were more noticeable due to light leakage.

Other than that most differences are external. It’s available in a flat panel variant at 49in (UA49KU7000W - $2,299), 55in (UA55KU7000W - $2,649) and 65in (UA65KU7000W - $4,499) or 55in (Reviewed - UA55KU7500W - $2,849) and 65in (UA65KU7500W - $4,799) curved.

The Styling more-resembles the top-end 9000 series in that its textured on the back and thin but there’s still no breakout box and all connectors appear at the back. Samsung’s One Remote is included which swaps out most buttons for a touch pad. It also works with other Samsung peripherals including sound bars and Blu-ray players. It can certainly be useful in keeping remote clutter down. However, the touch pad won’t be for everyone.

The textured styling at the back of the 7000 Series is similar to the 9000 Series.
The textured styling at the back of the 7000 Series is similar to the 9000 Series.

Basically, this is like an up-market 6000 series – the picture is basically the same but the extras are different. As such the Hisense range represents even better value than before... but only for the flat panels. While we have seen impressive versions of Hisense’s curved TVs they aren’t for sale in Australia. This means that Samsung’s 7000 Series TVs represent the cheapest way of getting a curved screen (they’re much cheaper than the 8000 series). If that’s important to you, then these are worth a look.

Samsung 8000 Series

Samsung's 8000 Series is impressive. But if you're spending so much, why not plump for the 9000 Series?
Samsung's 8000 Series is impressive. But if you're spending so much, why not plump for the 9000 Series?

The 8000 series is available in flat 55in (UA55KS8000W - $3,599), 60in (UA60KS8005W - $4,499) and 65in (Reviewed - UA65KS8000W - $5,499) and curved in 55in (Reviewed - UA55KS8500W - $3,899) and 65in (UA65KS8500W - $5,799) sizes. At this point we’re into Samsung’s “SUHD” range which uses its “Quantum Dot” colour technology.

As soon as you watch any colourful 4K content you’ll notice a big step up from the 6000 and 7000 series. All colours are incredibly vibrant. Contrast in general is better too along with blacker letterbox bars in movies although we did notice a little more light bleed at the edges of the curved model compared to the flat screen model. There were certainly fewer distracting reflections on the curved model though.

Upscaling is better too although there are still issues. We weren’t suffering from artefacting in uniform colour areas although the Soap Opera effect did rear its head in some drama – it’s not completely distracting but it’s there.

It’s a very thin TV, enhanced by all ports being removed from the back and instead connected to a single breakout box. Styling at the back is glossy and smooth instead of the textured effect on the 9000 series. We can’t see too many people being affected by this.

The back of the 8000 Series isn't textured and minimalist like the 9000 Series. But few will complain.
The back of the 8000 Series isn't textured and minimalist like the 9000 Series. But few will complain.

The stand is similar to that used by Hisense and sound again is impressively loud, clear and well-rounded.

It’s not quite as bright or vibrant as the 9000 Series though, but not by much. However, the flat panel variants are dramatically more expensive than Hisense’s and yet quality when displaying the best content is comparable - with better contrast on the Hisense. The Hisense is also better at reproducing standard definition content with better upscaling. As for the curved units, if you’re spending this much money on curved, you may as well go the whole hog and get the 9000 Series equivalents for a few hundred bucks more although the difference in quality is minor. Either way it leaves the 8000 Series with no compelling reason to buy into it.

Samsung 9000 series

Watching the top-end UHD demos on the Series 9000 Sasmung TVs is enough to impress anyone. All colours are incredibly bright and impressive – rivalling LG’s OLED TV. Next to the 8000 Series it’s an obvious step up although few people would be upset with the 8000.

Every colour pops off the 9000 Series screen, even in bright daylight.
Every colour pops off the 9000 Series screen, even in bright daylight.

The colour gamut is very high Blue, Green, Red Yellow, everything really, is incredibly bright and vibrant. And yet black performance is impressive too – so long as you’re not in a dark room.

Samsung goes into a great deal of science regarding which technologies allow for fewer reflections from the front while keeping blacks black. In daylight, everything can look amazing but in a dark room, the letterbox bars are still noticeable – we see why Samsung is pushing these TVs as perfect for bright, Australian homes. We watched The Martian on UHD Blu-ray in a very dark room and were expecting great things. However, to make all the dark, space areas look good with a black screen we had to turn it into Movie Mode which dramatically dims the colours and stops them popping. The fact is, blacks aren’t as good as rivals from LG, Sony and also Hisense and you’ll have to sacrifice that amazing colour that you’ve paid so much for in order to enjoy decent contrast.

Watching The Martian in a dark room showed how the 9000 Series could struggle with contrast and the bright colours became more subdued.
Watching The Martian in a dark room showed how the 9000 Series could struggle with contrast and the bright colours became more subdued.

Another disappointment is that upscaling still is not great. If you’re watching Standard Definition content you’ll see artefacts and jagged edges to just about everything – especially on low-rent cable TV programs like the Kids networks and E! Entertainment. This carries on to Standard Definition free-to-air programs and YouTube where low-quality content look mediocre. It’s not dire but we’ve seen better from Sony and Hisense.

Movies in standard definition lacked sharpness when upscaled.
Movies in standard definition lacked sharpness when upscaled.

The 9000 series comes in the following variants: flat 55in (UA55KS9000W - $3,999), 65in (UA65KS9000W - $5,999) and 75in (UA75KS9005W - $10,999); curved 55in (UA55KS9500W - $4,299) and 65in (UA65KS9500W - $6,299). However, there are also 78in (UA78KS9500W - $12,999) and 88-inch models (Reviewed - UA88KS9800W - $24,999) which are significantly different and are described separately below.

Ultimately, however, you’re paying a huge amount for Samsung’s flagship here. Yes it’s superb at displaying top-quality UHD content, but then so are most UHD TVs with Sony’s and Hisense’s flagships still rivalling it the LED-lit technology space. It is noticeably better than the 8000 series but not by much. Ultimately, it’s still a poor-man’s LG OLED TV (LG also offers curved TVs). LG offers true blacks and flawless contrast in addition to the stunning colours. It also has a better operating environment with WebOS being better supported than Samsung’s Tizen. Both struggle with low-quality content, so if money is no object, and you only watch UHD content, the LG is better. However, as all-round performers go in the flat-panel space, Hisense and Sony are better buys.

Samsung 78-in (UA78KS9500W - $12,999) and 88-inch UA88KS9800W (Reviewed - $24,999)

Samsung's 88-inch monster is a wall of colour.
Samsung's 88-inch monster is a wall of colour.

LG’s OLED TV goes up to 65 inches and costs $8,999. While we see other manufacturers offering 75-inch TVs, Samsung’s 78-inch and 88-inch monsters are worth a mention. They're not lit from the side because the screens are too wide even for the black magic-based physics to light the middle of the screen properly with the side-mounted LEDs. However, this means that contrast is actually better – the screen is much thicker but the dimmable rear lighting means that blacks get much blacker.

Paw Patrol in standard definition looks a bit iffy up close, but when the puppies are larger than life, few people cared.
Paw Patrol in standard definition looks a bit iffy up close, but when the puppies are larger than life, few people cared.

Everyone who saw it wanted this TV. It’s ridiculously big but decent-quality content on it looks amazing. Picture foibles are otherwise similar to the rest of the 9000 Series – upscaling is mediocre and really shown up when you’re close to the screen. However, when the picture is this big and this bright, we found we didn’t care. It’s silly money. But we loved it.

Page 2: Hisense ULED Series 7 review
Page 4: Conclusion

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Nick Ross

Nick Ross

Good Gear Guide

@NickRossTech

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