Ultra Contrast, Ultra Colours, Ultra Smart and Ultra HD Premium
Hisense held their first ever European launch event in Barcelona this week and announced the latest models in their ULED range of 4K TVs.
ULED or Ultra LED is a branded range of LED LCD TVs that offer Ultra HD resolution, HDR support, wider colour gamuts and Hisense’s new Vidaa Smart TV platform. The new range will be headlined by the 75-inch H75NU9750 and the 70-inch H70NU9700. There will also be the 8700 range with two screen sizes, the 55-inch H55NU8700 and the 65-inch H65NU8700. Along with the new ULED TVs, Hisense will also have other ranges of TVs with 20 new models in total across 9 different screen sizes ranging from 40 to 75 inches. Apart from the NU9750, all of these models will be coming to the UK.
At the event Hisense were keen to stress that they are now the third largest TV brand in the world, a position that they have reinforced with some high profile sponsorship over the last two years including Red Bull Racing and Euro 2016. That sponsorship will continue with the company dropping some heavy hints that they will be sponsoring next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia as well as Euro 2020.
Although Hisense already has a dominant position in China, the world’s largest TV market, they also have strong confidence in the European TV market. The company has opened a research and development centre in Germany and has also increased their production capabilities with a new factory in Poland that can make 600,000 sets a year. Hisense believe that technological innovation will continue to drive TV sales in Europe and that the TV set itself remains a high value product from the perspective of consumers.
The company had some interesting statistics with regards to viewing habits, with the average person in the UK watching 216 minutes of broadcast TV a day. That increases to 248 minutes a day when other video services are included, which shows that TV remains a big part of peoples’ lives. Panel sizes are also on the increase with the average screen measuring over 50 inches in China, although it’s 42 inches in Europe. Despite the number of 4K TVs sold increasing substantially over the last few years, 32-inch Full HD TVs remain strong sellers as people buy them for other rooms in the house.
The Chinese market is not only driven by much larger screen sizes than Europe but is also growing faster than anywhere else. China makes up 17% of the world’s population and accounts for 21% of global TV sales. The Chinese market also accounts for 26% of screen sizes over 60 inches, 29% of Smart TV sales and 35% of all Ultra HD TVs sold. Conversely Europe is already saturated, due to a high penetration of 4K TV sales. The recent innovations in TV technology has helped to drive new sales and large sporting events can cause spikes in demand but it’s mainly Eastern Europe that is currently driving growth.
A particularly interesting series of slides showed how the TV market has changed since the 1970s because back then it was dominated by local brands that no longer even exist. In the 1980s the European brands like Grundig, Philips and Ferguson were dominant before being replaced by the Japanese brands in the 1990s. There was Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi, Toshiba, Sharp, Mitsubishi and NEC but now only the first two remain in any real sense. The 2000s saw the rise of the South Koreans with Samsung and LG dominating and TPVision from Taiwan and Vestel from Turkey joining the major players. These days the TV market is dominated by Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, TPVision, Vestel, TCL and Hisense.
Due to the sheer size of its domestic market, China has a competency in terms of TV production and the next decade is sure to see the rise of their TV manufacturers, just as the Koreans usurped the Japanese in the last decade. Hisense impressed thanks to some particularly strong models last year, with the M7000, M5500 and K5510 all winning badges. If the company can continue that positive development in terms of performance, build quality and competitive pricing, then there’s absolutely no reason why they can’t dominate the world TV market in the same way that they already do in China.
In terms of Hisense’s new range for 2017 the top two models are the NU9750 and the NU9700. The former TV uses a 75-inch screen and has a built in soundbar but otherwise it is identical to the 70-inch NU9700. Hisense won’t be releasing the NU9750 in the UK but the NU9700 is coming to our shores, with the promise of big screen entertainment at a competitive price.
The NU9700 should also deliver in terms of picture quality with Ultra HD Premium certification, a direct LED backlight and local dimming that uses 128 zones. The NU9700 supports High Dynamic Range, specifically HDR10 and can deliver 1,000nits of peak brightness, it also uses quantum dot to reproduce a wider colour gamut that Hisense claim can cover nearly 100% of DCI-P3. Although Hisense weren’t able to officially confirm Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) support for their new TVs at the event, a firmware update seems very likely. Hisense made no mention of Dolby Vision, so it doesn’t look as though they will be adding that format this year at least and, as with last year’s TVs, there’s no support for 3D.
In terms of other features the NU9700 includes Hisense’s new Vidaa smart TV platform with quad core processing and over 200 apps including video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and YouTube (all with 4K HDR). There’s built-in WiFi, Freeview Play for catch-up, a web browser, USB recording, a media player, Dolby Digital support, HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0. The NU9700 has an attractive design that uses a 1cm wide dark grey brushed metal bezel with what looks to be a high level of build quality and matching feet. The H70NU9700 will be available in late May or early June and although Hisense couldn’t officially confirm pricing yet, you can expect it to be competitive.
The other model in Hisense’s ULED range is the NU8700 which will be available in the UK in 55- and 65-inch screen sizes. The NU8700 is also Ultra HD Premium certified but uses edge LED lighting and local dimming with 16 zones. The NU8700 also supports High Dynamic Range, specifically HDR10, it can also deliver 1,000nits of peak brightness and uses quantum dot to reproduce a wider colour gamut that’s nearly 100% of DCI-P3. It also includes Hisense’s Vidaa smart TV platform with quad core processing, over 200 apps including Netflix, Amazon and YouTube (all with 4K HDR). There’s built-in WiFi, Freeview Play, a web browser, USB recording, a media player, Dolby Digital support, HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0. The NU8700 has an ultra slim bezel-less design with a black border, a silver trim and a central chrome stand. The H65NU8700 and H55NU8700 will both be available in August, again there’s no official pricing yet but we’re sure it will please TV enthusiasts.
Next in Hisense’s new line-up for 2017 is the N6800 which represents their mid-range 4K Ultra HD TV and comes in 50-, 55-, 65 and 75-inch screen sizes. The N6800 uses edge LED lighting with local dimming – 16 zones on the 50- to 65-inch screen sizes and, interestingly, 192 zones on the 75-inch model. It also supports High Dynamic Range, again HDR10, and a wider colour gamut that is 85% of DCI-P3. There’s Hisense’s Vidaa smart TV platform with quad core processing and over 200 apps including Netflix, Amazon and YouTube (all with 4K HDR). There’s also built-in WiFi, Freeview Play, a web browser, USB recording, a media player, Dolby Digital support, HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0. The N6800 has an ultra slim design with a silver grey metal bezel and matching feet. The four screen sizes in the N6800 range will be available between May and July with pricing to be confirmed.
The entry level 4K HDR ranges in Hisense’s 2017 line-up are the N5700 and N5750 TVs. The N5700 comes in 43-, 49- and 55-inch screen sizes, whilst the N5750 comes in 45- and 65-inch screen sizes. Aside from that both ranges are identical with direct LED backlighting and High Dynamic Range via HDR10 support. They also include the Vidaa smart TV platform with quad core processing, as well as over 200 apps including Netflix, Amazon and YouTube (all with 4K HDR). There’s built-in WiFi, Freeview Play, a web browser, USB recording, a media player, Dolby Digital support, HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0. The two ranges use a similar metal bezel with a chamfered finish and matching feet and will be available in May to June with pricing also to be confirmed later.
We were impressed by Hisense’s TV range last year and if the specifications for the 2017 line-up are anything to go by, it looks as though they have no intention of resting on their laurels.