Hisense U8N TV Review: Loaded Package, Shades Required

The U8N also lets you control the volume output of its optical port with the TV remote, making it much simpler to control older audio systems that don’t support HDMI ARC/eARC, like my original KEF LSX speakers. If you decide to settle for the onboard sound, the U8N’s 2.1.2 speaker system offers some decent detail, and a bit of extra bass punch for its woofers.

The TV is well stocked on the gaming front, including VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and AMD FreeSync Premium Proto for fluid high frame-rate gaming, as well as ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) for low input lag. Gaming feels realistic and responsive, with impressive HDR performance. I like the variety of available picture settings, including both Theater and Game modes, which provide rich contrast and vibrant colors for details like Kratos’ ruby red armor in God of War Ragnarok.

Peaky Blinder

The U8N provides an almost intimidating level of picture settings for deep-dive adjustments. The Peak Brightness setting is the most confusing. When applying my usual picture modes during setup, like Theater Night for standard dynamic range (SDR) and HDR Theater mode for HDR10, Peak Brightness was set on High by default, which really pumps up the overall picture. This can result in raised black levels and white-hot highlights in content and menu bars, especially with HDR video, leading my wife to call the U8N “the hurty TV” at first.

There are a few things going on here. First, Peak Brightness is primed for daytime watching in bright rooms with sunlight pouring in, allowing even the darkest scenes to pop. Hisense also includes an adjustable Automatic Light Sensor under the General picture settings, something most reviewers tend to turn off for consistent performance but is all but necessary for Peak Brightness. It does a relatively good job taming the splashy brightness in low lighting, even if I don’t always love how it reacts to each environment.

Still, Hisense’s decision to quietly set Peak Brightness on High (often without the light sensor engaged) in picture modes that are usually more restrained is confounding, even for someone used to digging through picture settings. A colleague suggested that the TV’s default Energy Saving mode—a dimmer setting that includes the light sensor on for Peak Brightness—is the one Hisense expects most viewers to experience since most folks apparently don’t change their picture settings. The light sensor is also helpfully engaged by default in some other modes, like Dolby Vision Dark.

If you decide to use Peak Brightness, which is necessary to reach the TV’s highest brightness levels, I suggest starting on Low and turning the light sensor for night viewing. This worked well for illuminating challenging SDR content like Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows during daylight hours, where the darkest scenes seemed to have even less pop than the U8K without the peak brightness setting on.

My brightest HDR testing content often looked overcooked and oversaturated in this mode. That’s not surprising, considering the TV can reach over 3,000 nits, or triple the brightness at which most videos are currently mastered (though this baseline will change with the latest mastering tools). I usually left the setting off for HDR, but it can be useful in brighter rooms, especially for the always murky Dolby Vision Dark mode. I couldn’t help but marvel at how vibrant and flashy some scenes looked with the setting on, such as the monster scene in Moana, where the giant crab Tamatoa’s golden shell burst to life in disco psychedelia.

Slackjaw Spectacle

However you utilize the U8N’s picture settings, it’s capable of the signature beautiful picture we’ve come to expect from the series, with deep black levels, fabulous backlight control, very little “haloing” around bright objects, and intense colors that sparkle like jewels in sunlight.

This is showy performance, especially for high-quality 4K HDR productions like Netflix’s Our Planet. Episode 4’s coral scene looks incredible, with dashing neon yellows, sapphire blues, and lifelike sunlight sparkling across it all. Occasionally the TV tends to oversaturate reds, especially when using the Warm1 color temperature, but even so it’s stunningly beautiful. It’s the kind of picture that makes you just want to sit there, slackjawed and dumbfounded, as the pretty colors and bright sparklies dance before your eyes.

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