There's a new Hisense OLED TV on its way – but should you buy it? With a new Hisense A9G OLED set to launch in the UK and Europe, and an X8F model already appearing in Japan, OLED is clearly a priority again, but there are reasons for prospective buyers to be cautious.
While Hisense is one of the world's biggest value TV makers, often offering capable screens with premium specifications at competitive price points, the company's history with OLED technology isn't quite as rosy as it would hope.
It launched the Hisense O8B OLED back in 2019 to very little acclaim, quickly ditching its OLED range entirely after the buggy and inconsistent viewing experience that the O8B offered.
In our O8B review, we wrote that: "You get the benefits of an OLED panel here, with stark colors and contrast befitting the premium technology. It’s a shame, then, that the set’s processor lets the picture down, with some motion and lighting issues that can tarnish the experience".
Not long after, Hisense told TechRadar that a successor to the O8B OLED wouldn't be coming the year after, with the manufacturer instead focusing on its proprietary DualCell ‘ULED XD’ panels – which fuse a 2K and 4K screen together for a crisp and high-contrast picture – as a viable alternative at a much lower cost:
“We are currently focused on making ULED XD successful due to its strong PQ (picture quality) performance and value proposition vs OLED", a Hisense representative said in a statement to TechRadar.
This renewed push into OLED is notable, then, especially since Hisense has been attempting to shine a spotlight on alternative technologies like DualCell, ULED, or QLED.
Hisense OLED TVs: what's coming?
There are two distinct Hisense OLED TVs you should know about. The one currently on the market in Japan is the X8F, which comes in both 48-inch and 55-inch sizes – the former, smaller size being limited to a select handful of OLED screens. (Hisense is also releasing OLED screens in China, where the company is based.)
The other screen is the Hisense A9G OLED, which is expected to launch in the UK and Europe later this year. There's no firm release date as of yet, though launch pricing is expected to be €2,990 / £2,499 (around AU$4,700) for the 65-inch model, and €1,990 (around £1,700 / $2,400 / AU$3,100) for the smaller 55-inch.
We say 'UK and Europe' because we've only seen listings for the A9G screen in the UK so far, and Hisense tends to keep its US and UK ranges quite separate. We would expect a Hisense OLED TV to make its way stateside eventually, but possibly not before it proves itself in the European market. Hisense often puts out a TV in Australia before other Anglophone nations, too, so its lack of presence there suggests it won't be arriving in Australia imminently.
A product page on Box.co.uk for the Hisense A9G confirms it will have an OLED display, "wide viewing angle", and both the HDR10+ and Dolby Vision dynamic HDR formats. In terms of audio, you're getting 2.1.2 channel speakers (front-firing) as well as Dolby Atmos support.
It'll also support VRR (variable refresh rates) and ALLM (auto low latency mode) for the gamers out there, keeping gameplay smooth and responsive through its four HDMI 2.1 ports – meaning you can get maximum performance out of a PS5 or Xbox Series X console on its 4K/120Hz screen. Freeview Play is included too, for UK viewers wanting broadcaster catchup apps like All4, iPlayer, and My5.
The A9G sports an interesting design, with a slim, minimal-bezel screen placed within a sturdy soundbar. You're not getting the benefits of OLED's thin properties, though, as the casing and TV stand bulk out the back quite a bit, but it looks quite swish from the front.
The OLED problem
Hisense and OLED aren't natural bedfellows. The former is an electronics company focused on value screens, or flashy high-end offerings like its Hisense laser TVs. The latter is a premium TV panel technology that requires a modicum of quality and processing smarts to function as intended.
LCD screens can feature some shortcuts like edge-lighting that drop the cost while still offering relatively capable picture performance; OLED screens, however, don't have that luxury. OLED is luxury, and a budget processor paired with an OLED panel results in a picture that doesn't feel very OLED at all.
Hence why Hisense has kept a primary focus on its own DualCell, ULED, and Quantum Series screens. But these LCD-based technologies generally struggle to achieve the contrast ratio or brightness control of an OLED screen, meaning Hisense's attempts to position these alternatives as 'OLED-like' are likely destined to fail.
It's unsurprising to see the company try to keep a shoe in the door with OLED, then, though we're sceptical as to whether it'll be worth their effort until we see a Hisense OLED TV that gets the basics right.
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