Posted on December 27, 2018 By Art Feierman
Hisense 100″ Laser TV Review – Picture Quality 3: Black Levels, Dark Shadow Detail, Overall Picture Quality
As has been the case with almost every 4K UHD DLP projector (aka laser TV in this case), black level performance is pretty basic by today’s standards. TI’s DLP chips have not seen a really significant improvement in native contrast for almost a decade. Back then they had the best. Now one of the LCoS brands – JVC has the deepest blacks thanks to a lot more native contrast in their LCoS panels vs. DLP chips.
Dark city scape shot in testing room with shades open a few inches at the bottom to let in some daylight
Not a whole lot of range between brightest and darkest areas. That said, this image is a bit underexposed compared to most of the others. Black level performance, though is pretty basic.
The recently reviewed Epson HC4010/PC4050. These are $2Kish, and lower resolution (1080p pixel shifters x 2), with dynamic iris. Roughly comparable black levels.
Perhaps our favorite low cost over $1000 4K UHD small projector, the BenQ HT2550 does a slightly better job than most entry level 4K UHDs when it comes to blacks.
Optoma's UHZ65 4K UHD laser projector - standard throw, not UST, but also basic in terms of black levels. Again, little range between brightest and darkest. (But this image more overexposed.)
Sony's VPL-VW295ES - LCoS (SXRD) for $4999.99, so similarly priced when bundled with a quality screen, audio... Better black levels - deeper blacks, more contrast) than the Hisense.
JVC's RS440 - just discontinued - A 4K capable 1080p pixel shifter. Has the best blacks of any projector reviewed recently. What we are looking for on this scene - lots of range between brightest and darkest.
Acer's VL7860 is 4K UHD laser projector (standard throw) which uses its laser engine as a dynamic iris - the best black level performance yet, we've seen, from a 4K UHD DLP projector, besting the Hisense.
Epson's soon to be replaced Home Cinema 5040UB - Best black levels on a budget - $2299 street price these days. Far better than the Hisense, represents our minimum for good ultra high contrast blacks.
While the LCoS and 3LCD manufacturers have almost all added fast dynamic irises to help with the perceived black level performance. By comparison very few DLPs have such dynamic irises. Now, understand, native contrast is better. In some ways an iris is a cheat, but on extremely dark scenes, a well devised dynamic iris gives a projector a real advantage on those scenes. (I mention elsewhere, but so far, the only two companies doing an impressive job of using a laser engine as dynamic iris are Acer (VL7860) and Sony (VW995ES – the $39,999 projector I mentioned above.)
Still projectors like Epson’s UB series (starts around $2500), or the entry level JVC LCoS ($3999) and they both have much deeper blacks. Sony’s two native 4K projectors stack up his way, Their $4999 model has comparable, or slightly better blacks and their new $9999 VS695ES has much better blacks (that Sony’s $10K price, of course, does not include any audio (let alone impressive sound that the Hisense produces), nor an expensive light rejecting screen. Nor are those Sony projectors smart.
Bottom line on Black Level Performance. Blacks could be blacker, which would be better. Yet, I primarily see this projector operating in most homes in rooms with at least a little ambient light so that, even with an ALR type screen, you lose the advantage that you get from having truly great black level performance in a room that is fully darkened. And, ideally that room has dark walls, floors and ceilings (aka home theater or “man” cave).
Check out the dark detail in this otherwise bright scene. Look at the details near the bottom of the train engine.
One of our favorite images for dark shadow detail. The Hisense captures virtually all of the detail in the large dark, and mostly black area in the lower center left. Nicely done. Image is a bit dark.
Look to the "structure's frame" around the center glass view, There should be detail in the darkest areas.
The ceiling gets darker as you look to the back and left. No problems.
Not quite as good as some projectors, the Hisense does crush a bit of the darkest shadow detail, but not a problem. I have been running the projector with the dynamic contrast on Low, because I found that this setting provides excellent pop to the image, that most folks love, and only at the expense of a loss of a small amount of detail in the darkest areas, which, please remember – is very difficult to spot, unless you are focused on looking for that detail. In other words, most won’t ever notice a problem.
I should mention, like many of the 4K UHD projectors there is a little bit of white clipping, but I believe Eric indicated less than most others. You just might lose a tiny amount of detail in the whitest areas of a large bright cloud in a sunny scene.
I would definitely classify the overall picture quality of the Hisense Laser TV as good Home Entertainment quality. True, not great, the colors could have been better, as could the black levels, but the projector performed extremely well in my downstairs testing room with its now light gray walls and a large picture window that I often ran with the blinds about 40% open. The Hisense Laser TV did even better in that room with four overhead lights on, showing off the skills that a UST projector can produce when paired with the ideal type of screen in rooms with more than minimal ambient light.
4K Content from 4K Now App on Hisense Laser TV. Smooth gradations. Very nice.
The first 6 images in this player are all 4K content, followed by 1080p movie content, and 1080i HDTV.
Ghostbusters 2016 - 4K HDR - sharp, pretty good color.
A "trippy" image from Ghostbusters 2016 - plenty of dynamic colors, dark areas. Handled well, with lots of pop.
4K Blu-ray image from Rocky Mountain Express. Very sharp looking for non-native 4K. That's thanks to lots of sharpening type image processing.
Passengers - 4K. This is a tough image. His face is a bit dark, as tends to be the case on HDR images with lots of very bright lighting in the background. (EOTF/gamma related).
Now I’ll concede – I’d rather have an OLED 4K TV of the same size as this Hisense. Unfortunately, an OLED around 100” diagonal – to match this Laser TV and you are currently looking at spending at least $75,000!
So the short version – if you want big, and outstanding picture quality in rooms with ambient light, a projector based system such as this Hisense Laser TV delivers the big, but not the outstanding, while an OLED TV can deliver outstanding picture but likely for the same money, a picture that’s probably about half the size!
Ah, always trade-offs! Still I suspect that most folks that just buy a LCD TV at Best Buy, take it home, and watch it, will love what this Hisense brings to the party – Big and dynamic!
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