“At under $1,000, the Hisense U7G is a can't-miss value.”
- Impressive brightness
- Solid black levels
- Excellent backlight control
- Great for gaming
- Easy setup
- Poor off-angle performance
- Potential dirty screen effect
My pick for the best TV under $1,000 has gone to a TCL TV for the past few years, but this year, Hisense at the very least co-owns that coveted spot with its U7G 4K ULED TV. Priced well below $1K, this TV outperforms my expectations at nearly every turn — and that’s through the lens of a very picky TV enthusiast (me).
For most folks, the U7G is absolutely a no-brainer pick. Here’s why.
Over the course of my 29 years in the field of consumer electronics, I have preached that a heavy device is a premium device. Of course, there are limits to that notion — you don’t want a 25-pound pair of headphones. But, by and large, the best devices in any given category tend to have some heft because, even in this digital age, quality components tend to weigh more than cheap components.
By that measure, the Hisense U7G wouldn’t be considered a premium TV. It’s astonishingly light. So much so that I had real concerns about its overall build quality and its potential to impress me with its performance. But as I’ve been very easily moving the U7G around from spot to spot in my testing lab, I’ve determined that this TV is built just fine and should stand the test of time.
As a bonus, the U7G is a cinch to assemble and mount on the wall. There are just a couple of feet to install for stand mounting, and for those who will use a media center or credenza, the U7G’s footprint spans 47.75-inches wide by 10.5-inches deep.
In the box with the TV are the feet, screws for the feet, a Google voice remote, batteries for the remote, and a smattering of paper-printed product literature that one probably doesn’t need.
While we reviewed the 65-inch 65U7G model, our review also applies to the other screen sizes available in the series.
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One of the things I enjoy most about Hisense TVs is their ease of setup — specifically in regards to getting the right picture mode presets for all the various inputs and streaming apps on board.
I realize a lot of folks buy a TV, plug it in, turn it on, endure the requisite setup wizard, and then promptly go about watching TV without ever touching the picture settings. This is a shame. To get the best picture out of any TV — and especially the Hisense U7G — it pays to take a little time to at least make a few easy adjustments.
By default, the TV will be in a standard picture preset, which may ultimately suit your taste, but the TV will also be in an energy-saving mode which I highly encourage users to turn off right away. This eco setting will cap the TV’s peak brightness, and if one doesn’t turn this off, they’ll never know what their TV can really do.
Once the TV’s eco mode is disabled, I would also suggest turning off motion smoothing. While motion smoothing is helpful for some fast-moving sports content, it makes movies and some TV shows look artificial, introducing soap opera effect, which I consider dreadful. Not everyone agrees with me on this, however, so if you like the smooth-looking motion, feel free to leave it turned on — just know that I will never come over to watch TV with you.
Personally, I think the pro move is to select Theater Day as the picture mode. If the color temperature looks a little warm to you or it seems as if the picture isn’t as vibrant, that’s normal. Give your eyes a chance to get used to it. I think you’ll find it looks a lot more authentic. Theater Day also give you the best brightness output for SDR content without having to mess with any other settings.
Once Theater Day is selected for one HDMI input, it will be selected for the others as well. And if you select Theater Day in one streaming app, it will be the default for other streaming apps (again, this is for SDR content). Most TVs don’t offer this convenience, which is why I praise Hisense for making TV setup easy.
For HDR content, I suggest selecting HDR Theater, and I recommend Dolby Vision Custom for Dolby Vision. Again, once these picture modes are selected for one HDMI input or one streaming app, they will be applied across the board.
One final note on setup: The Android TV/Hisense setup wizard is going to throw a lot of privacy-related questions your way. Take a moment to read this stuff and choose wisely depending on how comfortable you are with data collection on your viewing habits. Also know that you can choose to keep your viewing data for yourself, but it will be at the expense of relevant content suggestions.
As is my custom for TV reviews, I used a Spectracal C6 colorimeter profiled to an X-Rite i1Pro spectrometer, along with Calman Ultimate software, to measure the U7G’s out-of-the-box performance before I made any detailed adjustments. Since few people are going to pay to have a TV like this calibrated, I think these numbers are the most valuable.
I checked peak luminance performance for SDR in Theater Night (283 nits) and Theater Day (566 nits). Theater Day looks just bright enough to offer a good-looking picture in a room with a moderate amount of daylight coming in. This is not mind-blowing brightness, but definitely above par for TVs priced below $1K. The backlight setting can be bumped up to increase brightness in brighter rooms, but the black levels will take a hit and start looking a little grayish.
For the HDR Theater mode, I got between 930 and 950 nits depending on how long I had been testing peak brightness. I consider just under 1,000 nits in HDR to be a good measurement for a TV in this price class. That’s definitely bright enough to make HDR look like HDR and, again, that’s above par for a TV in this price class.
Interestingly, I found that the HDR standard mode didn’t get any brighter than HDR Theater. This is atypical and yet another reason for me to recommend the HDR Theater setting.
I also checked the U7G’s out-of-box two-point grayscale performance and found it was impeccable. And I don’t just mean on point for Hisense, I mean the grayscale was at Sony A80J levels of accuracy. I expected this to translate into excellent color accuracy, but oddly enough, that didn’t turn out to be the case.
Normally, accurate grayscale means the colors are going to track well, but technically speaking, the TV has color errors that go into the visible spectrum. However, they are not so significant that I think most viewers would notice.
Given the TV is so inexpensive, a videophile on a budget might do well to pick up the U7G and have a professional calibrate the color. For the modest increase in overall cost of ownership, I think the return might be worth it to the right person. Most folks, however, will be pleased as punch with the color, if not downright impressed.
I am extremely impressed with the Hisense U7G’s backlight performance. I witnessed little to no crushing of blacks (where dark grays/shadow detail is represented as black). There was also surprisingly little blooming and halo effect around bright objects on dark backgrounds, which is impressive when considering how bright the TV can get.
I have a new favorite piece of content for checking black levels, shadow detail, blooming, and halo effect all at once: Night on Earth, which is available on Netflix. I watch the show with closed captions turned on and I will quickly learn just about everything I need to know about a TV’s backlight control and black level performance..
The great thing about this Netflix nature docuseries is that it is filmed almost entirely at night — hence the title. They use special cameras and technology to capture night images — action in nature that’s never before been seen. The show, on average, is extremely dark, except where it isn’t, which makes for one hell of a torture test, and let me tell you the U7G passed the test with ease.
I observed almost no perceivable blooming from the edges of the TV or halos around bright objects, the best test of which is around the closed captions, which are bright white on an almost jet black background. It’s rare that I’m not distracted by a backlight system when watching dark content, but the U7G had me simply enjoying the content — that’s a big endorsement.
HDR highlights were exactly what I expected/wanted for a TV in this price range. I think the U7G tracks a little high on the brightness curve in terms of accuracy, but it is enjoyable. The U7G reminds me of some Samsung TVs in that regard, but with better blacks for the price. HDR had pop, and I enjoyed it.
Motion performance was good — right in the midrange overall. I did see a little bit of stutter and flicker with vertically panned shots, but it wasn’t a consistent problem. Motion issues didn’t occur often enough for me to get upset, which means I think most folks will be very pleased with this TVs presentation.
Upscaling and processing, in general, were just OK. The U7G doesn’t clean up noise as well as, say, a Sony TV, but then again, most TVs don’t. In particular, I noted a little bit of color banding in low bit-depth content from streaming services. The U7G isn’t going to make Bob Ross on PBS look like a 4K studio master, but it does just fine for the kind of content most folks are going to watch today. For the price, I couldn’t ask for any better. One would have to pay a LOT more to get better processing, so again, I’ll hand it to Hisense for finding a good balance.
According to the Xbox Series X 4K TV details, the Hisense U7G supports just about every gaming parameter available, including variable refresh rate. I was not expecting VRR on this TV, but when I enabled it on the Xbox Series X, I got no argument. What a pleasant surprise! I was only able to verify HDMI VRR and FreeSync support for the U7G — the jury is still out on G-Sync for PC gamers.
The U7G is going to be great for gamers. The input lag is super low (below 15 milliseconds for 4K and about 7ms for 1080p and VRR) and the HDR images are fantastic. There’s great shadow detail and very little motion blur. All the crucial elements are there for a great gaming TV.
The Hisense U7G is an Android TV with Google Assistant support and support for Google smart home devices. It’s not as fancy a platform as Google TV, and the U7G has no hope of being upgraded to Google TV in the future, but Android TV is a solid platform that will work well for years.
The U7G, right now, is the best TV you can buy for under $1,000. That honor was once shared with the TCL R645, however, that TV’s price has soared due to supply chain issues, so for now, the U7G owns that title. I’d also have to call the U7G the best TV for enthusiasts who don’t have big budgets. This TV proves you can have excellent picture quality and not spend a small fortune.
Is there a better alternative?
At the price point, no. The U7G offers a unique value in 2021. However, the Hisense U8G offers just slightly higher performance (brightness) for $100 to $200 more.
How long will it last?
The Hisense U7G, from a performance and features standpoint, is positioned to function well for several years. Hisense provides a one-year parts and labor warranty for its TVs provided they are used in a non-commercial setting.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The U7G is a great TV. It’s low price makes it a no-brainer buy.
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