A friend of mine once said, "given enough time, everything expensive in tech will someday be affordable." At the time, I believe we were talking about computer parts, but it really applies across the board--especially when discussing flat-screen TVs. Nowadays, it's amazing just how much technology and performance you can get for so little money. Case in point: the Hisense 65-inch H8F reviewed here. For the purposes of this review I'll be diving into the 65-inch 65H8F, the largest of the three displays Hisense offers in their H8 Class, the others being a 55-inch and 50-inch model. The 50-inch model retails for $330, the 55-inch for $400, and the larger 65-inch reviewed here sells for $599.99--or less depending on where you shop. So yes, the H8 is cheap, real cheap, but is it any good?
The H8 certainly looks the part of a higher-end UHD TV; in fact, it's somewhat reminiscent of Sony's 900 Series of LED LCD TVs, albeit in its physical styling only. As far as build quality goes, the H8 does feel a bit cheap in hand and a cursory look around the unit itself reveals some measure of cost-cutting. Though, when was the last time you handled your TV on a regular basis? The 65-inch model measures 57 inches wide by 33 inches tall and just under three inches deep (at its thickest point). It tips the scales at 44 pounds, which makes it among the lighter 65-inch displays I've tested. That's good for my back, but perhaps more proof of some cost-cutting measures.
I/O options are limited, but should prove enough for most users. There four HDMI 2.0b inputs, one sporting ARC; two USB inputs (USB 3.0 and USB 2.0); an RF antenna; Ethernet port; composite video and single analog audio input; a single digital audio output (optical); and a headphone jack. The H8's 65-inch panel has a native resolution of 3,840 pixels across by 2,160 pixels vertically, making it a native Ultra HD panel. It supports Wide Color Gamut, but doesn't rely on Quantum Dot technology to get there. The H8 also supports Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10 and has a peak brightness (reported) of 700 Nits, which is more than sufficient for HDR content but not as bright as some displays on the market today. There are 60 total zones of local dimming, something we'll touch on more in a moment.
For smart TV functionality, the H8 relies on Android TV OS and features both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Its Android TV interface is the same that you'll find on Sony's costlier models, as well as a few other brands, and it also enables the H8 to be controlled/searched via your voice, which can also be defeated for those of you concerned about The Man listening in.
For those who prefer a more direct method of control, the H8's remote is functional, feels good in the hand, is easy to navigate, and for the most part is completely forgettable. It's not that it's a bad remote; it's just a remote. There is absolutely nothing special about it save for the fact that it is clearly laid out and easy to use.
Unboxing and mounting the H8 on my wall were easy enough, due to its manageable size and surprising lack of weight. Quick note: while the H8's internal packaging may not have been as slick as some other brands, I found the display to be more safely braced and ready for transport than just about any other TV I've encountered recently. Seriously, Hisense is not messing about when it comes to their packaging.
Connecting the H8 was also a breeze, though I was a bit surprised by the limited input options, albeit at first. It's funny how we expect to see and have everything and the kitchen sink, but when you really get down to it, most people can totally get away with three or four HDMI inputs in total (or even as few as one for most home theater enthusiasts), making any extra sort of a waste. I connected the H8 to my Technics integrated amp at first via its digital audio out, then later to my Marantz NR1200 stereo receiver via an HDMI connection (ARC with CEC enabled). Since the H8 utilizes Android TV, which I love dearly, I didn't bother with connecting any of my other streaming devices. Lastly, I connected my trusty JBL L100 Classic loudspeakers and called it good.
With everything connected, I sat down to set up the H8 itself. Android TV is one of the more straightforward TV operating systems, especially if you have a smartphone with the Google Home app already loaded on it. Upon connecting the TV to your home network, you can simply use the Google Home app to port over all your Google (Android) preferences, subscriptions, etc. to the TV, so my YouTube TV, YouTube Premium account, and others appeared ready and waiting on the H8 as if they had been pre-installed from the factory just for me. Adding my other subscriptions like Vudu, Amazon, and Hulu was easy enough, aided similarly by my iPhone. I love how customizable Android TV is, and wish more manufacturers would adopt it rather than go their own way trying to reinvent the wheel *cough* Vizio *cough* Samsung.
With everything connected, and all apps and subscriptions accounted for, it was time to see just what the H8 was capable of. The H8 ships in an Eco picture mode, which is just terrible, not to mention dim AF. Switching things to Standard does improve the brightness, but not the color or white-point accuracy. The panel does appear bright, but out of the box it features some of the most aggressive local dimming I think I've ever seen. Before carrying out any higher calibration, I went into the H8's menus and turned all of the display's dynamic lighting and contrast controls to Off, which is something I would urge all potential and current customers to do first and foremost with this display. The H8's dynamic lighting and contrast features all have a noticeable impact on the TV's performance--and none of them are good. Be sure and disable the ambient light sensor, as well.
Out of the box, the best picture profile to choose for accuracy of both grayscale and color is the H8's Theater Day mode. Theater Night is also good, but does come at the expense of some overall brightness. In Theater Day mode, the grayscale had far less of a blue bias and its color rendering was more or less accurate (Delta E's falling between 5-7). Brightness topped out at 1,200 Nits with all dynamic backlighting controls set to off and the backlight panel itself set to 100. Hisense claims a max brightness of 700 Nits, which is totally honest, if not conservative on their part.
Using my trusty CalMan software and light meter, I was able to bring the H8's grayscale in line easily enough, as well as make its color rendering more or less perfect. In doing so I was also able to achieve (and measure) absolute black, which if you follow my reviews is a big deal for me; I'll happily sacrifice light output or brightness to get at OLED level blacks via an LED-backlit LCD TV. Only, with the H8 I didn't have to sacrifice brightness, as I was able to maintain roughly 1,000 Nits even after calibration. Admittedly, I did turn the backlighting down just a bit to taste, but if you're one that wants or likes it bright, the H8 can and should deliver, so long as you're not looking for more than 700 to 1,000 Nits.
A final note with respect to the H8's backlighting: even after calibration, when viewing a full white or grey screen, some minor vignetting is observable along the edges and corners. This is noticeable in some real-world viewing, as well, most specifically during commercials that feature a solid color or all-white end screen with text. Other real-world viewing of, say, film, sitcom, or sports content does not show off this lack of uniformity; nevertheless, it is present.
In the end the H8, with respect to grayscale and color, measured as well or better than the Vizio P-Series Quantum X, and was a close second to Sony's amazing X950G, which may be the highest praise I heap upon the H8 in this review.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...