LAS VEGAS — One way to beat the competition is to offer every variation of a product that your customer could possibly want. When it comes to mid-range UHD TVs, few companies offer the kind of variety that Hisense has planned for 2016. With four distinct varieties of 4K models, all of which now support high dynamic range content, Hisense wants to prove that it can be as affordable as its modest competitors, and as ambitious as its high-end ones.
At CES 2016, I met with Hisense to take a look at their new televisions firsthand. The company offers a wide variety of moderately priced TVs and a few more expensive ones that go above and beyond. That strategy has made Hisense the bestselling TV brand in its native China, and has risen into the top 10 U.S. brands after only a few years in North America.
MORE: What's Next for TV: 4K Goes Mainstream, But Here Comes HDR
In 2016, Hisense will launch four varieties of 4K TVs: the H7, H8, H9 and H10. As the numbers increase, so too do the prices and extra features. The H7, H9 and H10 will launch in February, while the H8 will come out in April. All of the models feature UHD resolution and HDR picture, although only the H10 uses Hisense's proprietary ULED 3.0 technology, which provides better blacks, richer colors and sharper contrast.
The H7 is the most modest of the 4K lineup, offering UHD picture and HDR capabilities. The models range from 43 inches to 65 and from $400 to $1,200. One step up, the H8 includes local dimming, on which I saw better blacks and higher levels of contrast. A 50-inch model will cost $600; a 55-inch model will cost $700.
The H9 is a curved TV that features ULED technology. (This is Hisense's answer to technology like Samsung's SUHD, which attempts to provide OLED-like colors and blacks on a traditional LED/LCD screen.) Between ULED, the curved screen and a 55-inch display, the H9 will retail for $1,000.
Finally, the H10 is the model that Hisense was most eager to show off. In addition to using ULED 3.0, the 65-inch curved set also features Quantum Dot technology, giving it a richer color palette and more advanced HDR capabilities. The premium features also carry a premium price: $2,800.
I spent most of my time at Hisense admiring the H10's display, which is as colorful and high in contrast as the company promised. Crackling red flames, vivid orange sunsets and majestic brown mountains looked particularly good; the blues and greens of Chinese lanterns and graffiti-filled walls were a bit more subtle. It's hard to say whether the screen looks as good as an OLED without comparing them side-by-side, but it acquits itself pretty well.