I have a confession to make. I have been waiting for an opportunity to review the Hisense H9E Smart TV since it was announced at CES 2018. I’ve made no secret in past reviews of how much I like the Hisense hardware and how disappointed I’ve been in their software choices.
The H9E changes all that. (For your chance to win, check the end of the post.)
When our test unit, a 55H9E, showed up, it looked thinner and lighter than our last Hisense. Note: it is still too heavy for one person to lift. Ouch. The thin bezels are attractive, and the rear facing speakers work great in my personal setup (in a corner) but I suggest most invest in a soundbar.
The screen itself is a 120Hz panel, something not really common at the price point of this set (we’ll get to that soon enough, be patient). Motion is smooth (especially after turning off the creepy, unnatural “motion smoothing” that manufacturers insist on having on by default). The 120Hz speed makes the set fantastic for games and sports (which is why it was part of their World Cup promotion in 2018). It took a while to mess with the screen settings to get the colors just right, but that’s me being a snob. The backlighting isn’t perfect but is better than several sets I have reviewed.
Hisense doesn’t skimp on the ports here. You can choose between four HDMI ports (two run at 30Hz and the other two at 60Hz – gamers pay attention), two USB ports (one 2.0, one 3.0), both optical audio and 1/8-inch audio outs, RCA audio output, composite, S-video, and even a coax jack for cable or an antenna. Throw in both ethernet and wireless 802.11ac, plus Bluetooth and you’ve got a great selection of ports that look both forward and back.
Mine is free-standing, but you can also use VESA mounts and put it on a wall, like just about every flat TV on the market. I’m not sure why I’m noting this except to be a completest.
Setup was remarkably easy with one caveat – the remote control is a pain to pair. Once that’s done though? Just follow the on-screen instructions. I then pulled down my apps of choice, including Hulu. This is the first Hisense set I’ve tested that uses Hulu at all, and I love it. All my stuff in one place. Except…
It’s important to note that the Amazon Video is not included. However! Because this is an Android TV, you can work around that. I’m not going to give details, but there is a way to side-load Amazon Video. I did this and it worked perfectly. I’m watching Star Trek: Discovery with CBS All Access configured as a channel on Amazon Prime and it’s perfect.
Speaking of Amazon, the H9E includes the Amazon Alexa support from the H8E. It’s buried in the settings, but you can actually use both Alexa and Google Assistant if that’s your game.
The interface is slightly different than on the other Google TV set I used, but it’s easy to adapt. I spent about ten minutes adjusting it to my taste ). During this, I did have to deal with some updates. Overall, I would say let yourself have a solid 20 minutes to configure the H9E. That may seem long, but we’re talking set it and forget it. Forgive me for not showing photos of my home screen – it’s a tad personal.
Next up, we tested the Chromecast functionality of the H9E. My wife is a recent convert from iOS and hadn’t had a chance to play with this yet and enjoyed it. We had a music video party.
I’ll be honest – I don’t absolutely love the remote Hisense bundled with the H9E. I’m not a fan of the branded launch buttons – but that’s true of the Roku set in my basement too. It takes a little adjusting. But you can also use a remote app on your phone (my personal preference).
With all that out of the way? The H9E is effortless to use. Seriously. I’ve got my Plex, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon accounts humming perfectly and can easily switch them.
The Android operating system means I have complete and utter control and can add apps and games. It also means I can control tons of aspects of the TV with my voice. I prefer not to, but when testing it works pretty darn well.
While testing, my wife introduced me to Sons of Anarchy, which I’d never seen. To me, it looked amazing and then she pointed something out: when watched on our 1080p tablet, it looked good, but when watched on the Ultra 4K H9E, it looked amazing. This can make the experience of rewatching a show interesting, as it looks better than you remember.
So in review, the H9E can do everything a smart TV should be able to do, with zero sacrifices.
With everything I’ve mentioned, you’d expect a price point of about $900, right? Well, guess again. Best Buy has it for only $599 right now. They also have it Walmart and a few other stores for slightly more. I can’t get over how affordable it is.
Yes, there are cheaper UltraHD televisions and there are other smart platforms. But they all involve compromising it at least one thing – ports, audio or video quality, OS open-ness, or something else. The H9E is a compromise-free solution at a price that stands out.
Want to see for yourself? Fill out the form below. We’re giving one away! We’ll pick a winner on March 31st.
Note: Hisense provided me with an H9E for review and giveaway purposes.