Hisense H9D Plus 4K UHD smart TV review: Great color, but not enough brightness to make HDR shine
We were a bit puzzled when we saw the $1299 price tag on Hisense’s 55-inch-class (54.6-inches diagonal measurement) H9D Plus TV. Until now, we hadn’t thought of Hisense competing in the market segment dominated by the likes of Sony and Samsung. We’re rethinking that attitude as the H9D Plus impressed us with superior color depth and fidelity, and overall picture with standard dynamic range material. And as a smart TV, it features one of our favorite user interfaces and lots of apps.
But Hisense is advertising the H9D Plus as an HDR TV. And it is, sort of. It can play HDR-10 content, and its wide 10-bit color space (gamut) means that you do get the HDR effect (think light sabers and neon that really pops). But the rest of the image might be darker than it should be due to a lack of peak brightness.
Design and features
The H9D Plus sports a thin pewter-colored bezel, and it weighs 43.1 pounds with its stand. It was easily set up by one person in our lab. At press time, the specs on Hisense’s website described this TV—in a section labeled “words for nerds”—as being 48.5 inches wide by 2.4 inches high, by 28 inches deep. Those last two numbers should be reversed, of course, and that’s not the only mistake Hisense has made labeling things. The next one is much more consequential.
Only two of the H9D Plus’s four HDMI ports are HDMI 2.0a with support for HDCP 2.2. And while most users won’t have even one 60Hz 4K UHD source at this point, providing two 30Hz HDMI 1.4 ports strikes us as stingy on any TV in this price range.
The real issue, however, is that the two 60Hz HDMI 2.0a ports are labeled as MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link, aka a smartphone input) and ARC (Audio Return Channel). Hisense informed us that these ports are mislabeled and that the HDMI 1.4 ports should be used to connect a smartphone or to send audio to another device. Of course they should. Who in their right mind would waste the only two 60Hz ports on ARC and MHL? Someone at Hisense was having a really bad day. We should also point out that 30Hz HDMI 1.4 ports are perfectly adequate for DVD and most normal Blu-ray.
The H9D Plus also sports three USB ports, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and a hardwired ethernet port. A cursor control on the lower left of the back of the TV can be used when you misplace the largish remote.
Remote and Interface
Speaking of which, we didn’t dislike the H9D Plus’s remote, but we didn’t love it either. Tastes vary, and if you like a large remote with a button for just about every possible function that isn’t easy to lose in the couch cushions, this one fits the bill. The volume and channel buttons are called out nicely, and the whole deal is pretty easy to memorize. That’s always a good thing, especially when, like this one, it’s not backlit.
While we weren’t overly impressed with the remote, we were enamored with the interface, which we found to be just the right combination of clean and easy. Everything is where you think you’ll find it, and there are lots of advanced tweaks for those who think they can do better than the factory. Us? Every time we tweak or enter a user’s “perfect” calibration numbers, we’re back to the defaults in in about 5 seconds flat. The vendors have gotten quite good at putting their best image-foot forward in the last decade. Low profit margins and cut-throat competition will do that for you.