Hisense U8HAU Gaming Review: A Lot To Like, But Important Stuff To Hate

Hisense U8HAU Gaming Review: A Lot To Like, But Important Stuff To Hate

As a general rule, large companies release the same basic product worldwide. You might get a few regional changes to account for, say, PAL vs NTSC in the old days, or different kinds of antennas in smartphones. But usually, if you hear a product is amazing overseas, it’s going to be the same here. Not so for the Hisesnse U8HAU, which is (for some reason) almost completely different to the overseas model.

What’s the main difference here? Fewer dimming zones. Overseas it has “more than 500”, while here it’s “more than 100”, which is noticeably less than 500. Also, it’s a VIDAA TV instead of a Google TV, Google TV being a name you recognise as making a pretty good TV operating system, and VIDAA being a name I hope to never hear again.

However, at an RRP of $3999, and frequently found below $3000, this 75” Mini-LED TV (also available in 55” and 65” flavours) is the cheapest you’ll find a Mini-LED. But is it worth it? And is it any good for gaming?

Hisense U8HAU Gaming

The first thing you’ll notice when you look at the back of the TV is that the Hisense U8HAU only has two HDMI 2.1 ports. That’s disappointing in a flagship TV, but not too bad, right? The vast majority of people aren’t going to plug in more than two HDMI 2.1 game consoles, and people who plug in their PC, Xbox Series X and PS5 can just get a different TV.

Except, one of those two HDMI 2.1 ports is the eARC port, so if you have a soundbar (and you should, but we’re getting to that), you really only have one HDMI 2.1 port. On a TV at this price point, all four HDMI ports should be HDMI 2.1. To only have one usable one is absolutely shocking. This will probably be remedied in the 2023 model, so maybe wait for that one, I guess.

Aside from that, the gaming experience is pretty smooth. I found Forza Horizon 5 looked a bit washed out, but I’m used to playing it on the Samsung QN900B, which is known for having overly vibrant greens, so that could be a personal preference thing.

I did also notice on Gotham Knights that there was some light blooming, presumably because there are so few local dimming spots. The whole point of Mini LED is that it’s supposed to have similar light control to an OLED TV. This is unexpected and kinda shocking. The blooming is quite noticeable, particularly when there’s white text on a black background. After I first noticed it, it became almost all I could see while playing dark scenes.

However! The TV does get pretty bright. Not as bright as my QN900B, but it’s also half the price, so I accept that. I could comfortably play during the day, with the curtains open, in my greenhouse of a living room. Two of the walls in my living room are floor to ceiling windows, with the biggest wall closest to the TV facing west, and as you can imagine that makes watching TV in the afternoon a challenge on lesser TVs. However, I had no problems with the Hisense U8HAU, there weren’t even any noticeable reflections on the screen, it was great. Big fan.

All that brightness is good for the many, many forms of HDR the TV supports. HDR10+, Dolby Vision and Imax Enhanced Certification. Dolby Vision is the most relevant to gaming, and it looks really good. Nice textures, much texture. So, well done on that, Hisense.

The 120Hz meant that gaming was buttery smooth (there is a law saying that whenever you talk about 120fps, you have to include a reference to butter), and the variable refresh rate was exactly as you would expect.

Hisense U8HAU OS

I have seen some bad TV operating systems in my time, and VIDAA is definitely one of them. Why? Why would you do this to a perfectly fine television? It looks bad, it’s clunky to navigate, and I get the distinct vibe that a team of interns made it in a week after Hisense decided the Australian market wasn’t worth paying the Google TV licencing for.

That said, the smartphone app that connects to VIDAA is actually pretty good! It’s not great, but I’ve definitely used worse. It connects quickly, it has options presented in a way that makes sense. I enjoy it and it has become my preferred way of interacting with the TV because…

Hisense U8HAU Remote: Oh no

the remote of the Hisense U8HAU tv on a couch

I don’t even know what to say about this remote. I know I said in the Samsung QN900B review that I wanted more buttons, but this is a “be careful what you wish for” situation. There are so many buttons. It looks like one of those universal remotes you buy at a $2 shop after yours gets lost in the couch.

I’m a big fan of the number buttons, let’s get that out of the way. One of the reasons why I like using a TV is because I enjoy TV, and sometimes that involves pressing numbers on a remote.

But what on earth is going on with the app buttons on this beast? What’s happening? How much did each of these app partners have to pay to get a spot on the remote? Can I pay to get a spot on the remote? It would have been more tolerable if these buttons were black like the rest of the remote, and it’s just so aesthetically unpleasant.

And then we have the layout of the remote. I like how chunky it is, it feels good in the hand and it’s difficult to lose because it’s huge. But surely there was a nicer way to layout these buttons? They’re not placed for aesthetics or ergonomics. The volume button feels unsatisfying because it doesn’t have a little dip between the up and down. The only textured details are on the channel up button and the 5. This is not a remote that a team of dedicated designers had meetings about, this is a rush job remote.

It’s also supposedly a Bluetooth remote, but at no point could I get it to stay connected to the TV via Bluetooth. Worked great via IR, but did not function as a Bluetooth remote, hence why I resorted to the app instead of using this weirdly laid out relic from the early 2000s (and not in the good way).

Hisense U8HAU Audio: Oh no-er

I’m going to say it: TVs do not sound good without a sound bar. They just don’t. They’re not designed to. Speakers on thin TVs are the vestigial tails of the AV world. That said, Hisense could have tried harder with this one.

I could go into details about how it doesn’t sound good, or I could just say to buy a sound bar if you choose to buy this TV. Since the bass, treble and mid-tones sound bad, I’m going to save us all that 1000 words and just tell you it needs a sound bar.

It’s got Dolby Atmos, at least, so that will be nice if you get a good sound bar.

Hisense U8HAU Verdict

Hisense TV on a cabinet

I have seen much, much worse TVs than the Hisense U8HAU. The U8HAU is a solid medium TV. It’s not incredible, and it’s not bad. I am, however, angry that it’s so different to other models in other countries, because it sounds like they got a really good TV for the same price, with the same model number. Before I was sent this TV and was assigned this review, I read reviews of the US model and thought it sounded really impressive for this price point. I don’t understand why Hisense keeps doing this. The company mostly makes good products, and I am upset for the people who would have gotten tricked by the overseas reviews of this TV and thought they were buying something really special.

This TV is not really special. It does have some great features, like Imax Enhanced Certification is great, particularly if you subscribe to Disney+. The way the TV automatically changes mode to suit sports or games is really neat (if you like the way those modes look). The remote definitely has a lot going on if you like that sort of thing.

However, I don’t know if it’s a TV I can wholeheartedly recommend. It’s not wholly bad, but it’s not especially good, either. There are parts I’m extremely impressed by, and other parts that break the experience for me.

There are better TVs out there, sometimes also around this price point. If you find the Hisense U8HAU at a deep discount and only have one next-gen console to plug in, then you’ll be happy. But everyone else should wait for next year’s model or buy something else.


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