Hisense may not be a TV brand on the tip of every TV-buyer’s tongue, but the company is certainly making a name for itself in the affordable TV market with budget-oriented offerings that don’t skip on the extra goodies. Take Hisense’s newest: a 55-inch Ultra HD display packed with Netflix, Vudu, Vimeo, Pandora, and oodles of other apps, all for $1,999.
That makes the retail price of the Hisense T880 a full $2,500 less than the sale price of the Samsung F9000 I recently reviewed, although of course it lacks the Samsung’s upgradable One Connect box, its Smart Hub features, and its interoperability with cable and satellite boxes. But at least on paper, there’s a lot to love about the T880, especially for the price. In addition to the apps listed above (along with others, like Twitter, Facebook, Picasa, and AccuWeather), it features an LED backlight instead of the more common (these days) edge lighting, which should result in a relatively consistent and more precisely locally dimmable screen.
The only thing that scares me a little is Hisense’s Ultra SMR 120 Smooth Motion Rate processing. There’s no indication that it can be defeated, and according to some Amazon user reviews of previous Hisense models, the processing isn’t always defeatable by default, unless you request a firmware update delivered on a USB flash drive. Which means you may be dealing with the Soap Opera Effect on the regular.
Of course, some viewers love frame interpolation, so that may not be a minus for you at all. At any rate, the Hisense T880 has a rather distinct spot in the marketplace at this point — a few steps down, of course, from the big name brand offerings, but way, way above Seiki’s bargain basement offerings. Most interestingly, though, if the T880 succeeds on store shelves, it could have the effect of lowering 4K TV prices (again) across the board.