Updated: Jan 26, 2021
Being stuck at home, Indians are buying 4K TVs more than ever with the average display size going larger. So, of course more brands are bringing their TVs to India. But, when a well reputed company like Hisense finally decides to launch their televisions in the country, you know the game is heating up. I was super interested to get my hands on their new 4K LED TVs so, when I got the chance to try out the Hisense A71F, I decided to test it out more thoroughly & share my findings with you guys.
Now, I have tested the 50" model while Hisense also has a 43" & a 55" model available. I expect the other models to have very similar picture quality but, the smaller 43" model does have slightly less powerful speakers. I will talk about that and more in the Audio section of this review but, I need to talk about some other things first.
So, let's divide this review into respective sections & for the convenience of the regular consumer, I'll try to keep the statements to the point and fairly understandable.
Design, Build Quality & Inputs
Hisense has designed the A71F well. No, it doesn't look super premium or anything but, the thinned out bezels with a strip on the bottom, makes to TV appear to be pricier than it actually is. They have tried to thin out the back but, the portions packing up the electronics & the speakers are thicker as you'd expect. The TV isn't super-thin on the other areas either but, it's a LED TV so, that's kinda expected.
Build Quality is a complete different story though. The Hisense A71F has a mediocre build quality. The TV is made out of plastic and that's expected for it's price point. The plastic is, well, it's not bad quality material but, it's not super impressive either. Maybe Hisense could have used a slightly better quality plastic here. You can either wall mount the TV or use the supplied legs (stands) to put it on an entertainment unit. Both are supplied in the box & the Stand is also made out of plastic by the way.
Also, the front panel & the display aren't stuck flush with each other. There is a slight gap between them which can only be noticed if you look at the corners at an angle, up close. This is definitely intentional & will cut the manufacturing cost a bit but, flush ones have practical advantage in a visual perspective so, spending that extra design effort would have been nice. But, I will still give Hisense props for making the bezels flushed to give the TV a pleasing look.
Let's talk inputs now. There is a decent number of inputs on the A71F with all the necessary ones included alongside a few for backwards compatibility. Hisense included 3 HDMI ports on this TV and all of these are HDMI 2.0 compatible. That means a max bandwidth of 18 Gbps which can handle 4K 60 Hz signals with ease. Yes HDMI 2.1 is the new hotcake in the market but, that is only available in a few high-end TVs as of now and will take some time to trickle down to budget options. One of the HDMI ports also support ARC (Audio Return Channel) so, if you have a nice soundbar, you should plug it on that port.
The other inputs include a LAN port, 2 USB ports, one Digital Audio Out, a Headphone Jack, a Service port & a port for your Analog Antenna in case you've been living under a rock & just came out of it. All of these ports are located at the left side of the TV's back bump but, there are also the legacy Red-White-Yellow inputs at the back where you can plug in your SD set-top box if you still have one.
Would it be nice to have 1 more HDMI & USB port like the big boys? Of course it would! But, we have to consider the price point here. Taking that into account, I can't really complain about the number of inputs. In this case, I think Hisense has given enough.
Software, Remote Control & Wireless Connectivity
The Hisense A71F runs on Android TV version 9.0 so, we have the stock Android TV UI here. Hisense has optimized the UI well here. There is 2GB RAM and 16GB storage so, storing a lot of apps isn't an issue and the extra RAM at this price point is heavily appreciated. The interface is hence smooth & there are no stutters while navigating. We of course have access to the Google Play Store so, all the popular apps are available. Well almost all the popular apps.
Coming as a drawback of Android TV, there is no Amazon Music as of now although, you do get Prime Video. Also, there is no Apple Music or Apple TV app for Android TV. Apple did confirm that they are bringing the Apple TV app to Sony & VIZIO TVs (Update: Now available) and they are already available on select models from LG & Samsung but, there is still no word on support for Hisense. If you must have Amazon Music, Apple TV support then I recommend getting a Fire Stick 4K.
The remote has a thin form factor which makes it nice to hold & it has an okay-ish build quality. You should try to avoid dropping this thing cause, the sliding battery cover on the back might break. All of the popular streaming platforms got their own buttons on the remote & quick launch isn't an issue. The buttons are good but, I found a couple of them to be slightly extra mushy. Yes, I'd have prefer a better quality remote but, this is what we get.
On the better side of things, the remote does have an inbuilt microphone & a dedicated Google Assistant button. That means instead of navigating everything or typing with that annoying Android TV keyboard, you can just ask the Google Assistant to open an app or search for content. It works pretty well & the voice input seems to be good as well. You can also switch the inputs using the dedicated Input button. The remote pairs using Bluetooth.
Talking of wireless connectivity now, Hisense was kind enough to include Dual-band Wi-Fi on the A71F. There is support for both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi which isn't that common on budget TVs. Bluetooth is supported but, I'm not sure which version of it Hisense has used here. Last but not the least, there is inbuilt Chromecast so, casting from your smartphone isn't going to be an issue. However, do note that the supplied one is a regular 1080P Chromecast so, you can't stream in 4K. Also, the inbuilt audio effects don't work while casting.
Picture Quality, HDR & Motion
Okay, the section that everyone was waiting for 'cause, Picture Quality is why you buy a TV right? Let's start off with Black Levels on this panel. Black Levels aren't the strong suit of LED panels & without the presence of any kind of Local Dimming, the Hisense A71F doesn't have great black levels. Bright objects create a significant amount of blooming around them & that is quite noticeable when you're in the basic picture modes. The blooming can be reduced significantly if you use a better picture mode.
Speaking of picture modes, we have quite a few options to choose from. The TV comes default on "Dynamic" for SDR content and "HDR Dynamic" for HDR content. Now, that mode & a bunch of others do not produce a good picture quality. In my testing, I found the "Calibrated" & "Cinema" modes to be the most color accurate ones. These modes also reduce blooming significantly as they operate on a lower brightness level.
These modes do great in both SDR & HDR so, while watching content, these are your best choices. I don't know what the exact brightness levels are but, the brightness is definitely on the lower side. So, if you have like a massive glass window right in the opposite where your TV is going to be, maybe don't get this TV. Otherwise you should be fine. There is also a "Game" mode which I wasn't able to try with a console but, it should come handy with lower response times while playing first person shooters.
The A71F does not handle motion well. It's good for scenes with not much movement going on but, when things get complicated, this TV gives it away. If you are like me and bad motion on displays gives you headaches, you can skip this TV. Now, to counter some of the motion issues, the TV has Motion Smoothing. However, there isn't a setting where you can control the amount of Motion Smoothing which means, it's always doing everything automatically.
There is no way to know when Motion Smoothing will take effect so, artifacts & the soap opera effect can randomly pop on your display. Motion Smoothing is helpful while watching sports & playing games but, in other situations it's a nightmare. If you're reading this Hisense, please give a software update to control the amount of Motion Smoothing and of course, turning it off.
The TV does come with a 10-bit panel so, the color volume is actually better than expected. Videos look good with vibrant colors. For the price, that's actually pretty good picture quality. I've seen, more expensive TVs do worse. You can also adjust the RGB values and other picture settings yourself, in case you're not happy with what the default picture modes provide. The 4K up-scaling of 1080P content is also really good. This also puts some other higher-priced TVs to shame. So, great job on those departments Hisense.
Coming to HDR, the TV does support all the popular HDR formats out there. So, you get HDR 10, HDR 10+, HLG & Dolby Vision. The HDR output is good and it does operate on a higher brightness level compared to SDR. The highlights and shadows are well balanced too but again, you'll get better picture quality if you engage "HDR Calibrated" or "HDR Cinema" modes. It does not do great with the EOTF curve but, I wasn't even expecting this much from a budget 4K TV.
I initially thought that I wasn't gonna need to make a separate section for this but, I do. Hisense has literally impressed me with what they have achieved on a volume level. So, there is a pair of Stereo speakers rated at a total of 30W. Now, these speakers are bottom firing so, if you put the TV on a table the audio will bounce of the surface. Wall mounting is cool too so, you don't need to worry a lot about that.
The TV does support Dolby Atmos and it can be toggled from the Sound settings. Enabling Dolby Atmos increases the spatial element of the sound while also balancing the volume levels. The best sound setting combination on this TV is Dolby Atmos + "Theatre" mode. This works for most of the content. "Theatre" mode also boosts the volume a bit & makes the audio sound more clearer. However, this may not work great while listing to News & similar type content so, in that case you can choose whatever sound mode works for you.
I tested the TV while it was mounted to a wall and as you can see in the image above, I have kept the "Wall Mount Setup" toggle off 'cause, most of the time it was making the sound worse & toggling the "Theatre" mode off. So, if it isn't helping your content, it's better to keep that setting off, even if you're wall mounted. You can also go into Advanced Settings & change the Audio Type if you want but, this is what works best by default.
I need to mention that the 43" inch model does have a 24W speaker system while both the 50 inch & the 55 inch models come with 30W speakers. So, the audio performance of the smaller model will be considerably weaker. In both cases however, you should be fine unless you have like a huge living room. In that case you can get a soundbar.
I'm gonna make this part super easy for you. As you already know, there are three models. The 43", 50" & 55" models cost ₹26999, ₹31999 & ₹36999 respectively but, as of now the prices can vary heavily ranging from plus-minus 1K-2K based on when & from where you're getting the TV. Now, these are great prices for a TV with so many features but, does it deliver on what it promises? I'll say, yes, it does.
This is a price range where we do not get good value on TVs. Even if you manage to bag on a big-screen TV, chances are it doesn't support so many HDR formats & specially Dolby Vision & Atmos. So, what Hisense did here was, creating a TV that doesn't compromise on the basics while packing as many features as possible. Does it have comparatively worse Black levels & bad Motion handling? Yes. But, at this price that almost the case with any TV available in the market right now. But, it still has more rich feature set compared to those. Even on a raw performance standpoint the Hisense A71F does deliver everything it promises.
So, do I recommend the Hisense A71F? Well, for most people, I can recommend it without any hesitation. If you're looking for a good 4K TV on a budget that does nice HDR, this TV is gonna be great for you. The only exception would be for people who watch a lot of fast motion content & have a motion sickness tendency and for those who's main priority is Black levels. If you don't fall into these categories, get this TV and you'll love it.