Projector Reviews

Hisense 100″ Laser TV Review: A 4K UHD, Smart Projector with Screen – Summary

Hisense 100″ Laser TV Review – Summary: The Big Picture, The Bottom Line, Pros, Cons

The Big Picture

The Hisense Laser TV was first launched in 2017.  We have been reviewing the original D series, which has been firmware upgraded, since then.  In 2019, look for three new Hisense Laser TVs with an improved laser light engine, (with the potential promise of further improved color – we shall see).  Those models as released, will come with 3 different screen sizes, respectively, and some other differences.

We look forward to reviewing one of the new ones, and comparing our findings to this one.

Overall, the Hisense Laser TV delivers on the big picture.  This is a serious “home entertainment” projector/TV, but I would not call it a very serious “home theater” projector.  That is, it is very “consumer” and less “enthusiast”. It’s about the big picture, lots of wow factor and pop to the image, and very sharp looking, but it is less about dead on accuracy, or deep black levels, which makes for serious home theater. That’s OK, most folks don’t care about dead on color, or really deep black levels (or all LCD TVs would have been replaced by all OLED TVs by now (more below).

Way Smarter than Most Projectors

And it is a smart TV too.  It supports apps like Netflix, Prime, with many built in.  Overall, the smarts performed well except for supporting Amazon Alexa control, which after much effort I was finally able to get working on some commands.  Hisense offers Alexa control via the Hisense skill found on the Alexa site, but their App for that rates poorly, and I have to agree.  The inability to get the skill to work, or to only be able to power down the set and control volume ) is also what many complaints indicated in the Alexa App review section (1.5 stars – that’s about as low as app ratings tend to get). The good news – I hope – is that most of the problems getting Alexa to control the Hisense, are likely fixable with a new version of the Alexa Skill for the Hisense Laser TV.  We’ll judge it again, when we review the soon to be released models.

The picture comes across as very sharp (possibly a bit too sharp once in a while with default settings), and color is good but not exceptional. Eric was not able to come up with a really on the money calibration as we usually manage with most $2000+ projectors we calibrate.  Reds are a bit off in 4K/HDR calibrated mode, so that NFL uniforms are off slightly – the KC Chiefs with their bright red, pick up some orange.  Still, I would say that the color I have been working with is pretty typical for most modes on LCD TVs (or LED TVs if you prefer.)

It’s the Size!

To me, the Hisense 100″ diagonal Laser TV offers an intelligent alternative so say a 71” to 82” conventional TV.  Anything in an OLED TV that is larger than 82” at the time of this review, is still going to cost many times more than the complete Hisense Laser TV.

Consider TV pricing (12/2018):  LG’s 77” OLED (barely half the size image) on Amazon, is $6996 (plus mounting hardware).  Sony’s equivalent 77” is $8396.  Samsung has an 88” for a mere $14,997. But unlike the other two mentioned, the Samsung is QLED, which is not OLED, more like the far less expensive LCD TVs out there. (OLED’s emit light, QLED like LCD has a light source that passes through the LCD or QLED.  To quote Tech Radar: “QLED is mis-termed tweak of existing LCD technology, while OLED is a completely different technology.”  Samsung’s current QLED tech is no match for black level performance of OLED.

So, the short version is, if you want large, and want world class black levels, you are talking only OLED TVs, with even the best projectors (in terms of black levels) being not quite as good. But, currently you are looking at $40K or so minimum for something around 90” in OLED.   For that you can buy Sony’s new flagship projector (which is my next review), and a major step up from this Hisense Laser TV.

I love watching at 100″ diagonal or larger. You will too.  That folks, is the game changer!  Sitting 12 feet back from a 100″ screen is a different viewing experience say compared to sitting the same distance from some 71″ TV.  It’s all about being immersed in the content. That’s why, despite all the rise in streaming, etc. 2018 US movie theaters had a record year. It’s not the theater itself, its certainly not the overpriced popcorn, drinks, and other snacks, it sure isn’t the rude people sitting behind you.

We love the movie theater for its ability to immerse us in the content. You can love this 100″ Hisense Laser TV at home for the exact same reason!

Hisense 100” Laser TV: The Competition

I’ve already pointed out that if you want to avoid projection based solutions, anything OLED near the size of this 100” TV is prohibitively expensive.  We’re talking roughly 6X or more, the price of the Hisense for an OLED TV that’s only about 80% of the screen size!

Since I’m into the big screen experience, that’s all that needs be said about traditional TV alternatives.

Now, when it comes to projectors, we have here a $10K solution, including screen and mounting hardware for the included screen.

By comparison, most home “entertainment” projectors are much lower cost, but not always.  While we think first of Sonys and JVCs and Epsons and BenQs as perhaps the better home theater projectors without getting into brands that go well up into five figure prices, we have reviewed several 4K UHD laser projectors this year, including those from Optoma, Dell, and Acer, for the most part, those laser projectors also are mostly “home entertainment” with only the Acer offering really superior black levels, that tend to set home theater apart from home entertainment.

Of those we’ve reviewed, the Optoma UHZ65, is probably the most home entertainment (we see those mostly as business projectors), as it has very good color – I would give the Optoma the color advantage over the Hisense. When it comes to black levels, they seem fairly similar.  On the other hand, the Hisense is a UST projector which provides some serious placement advantages compared to a traditional projector – when placed in traditional “family” rooms be they living rooms, media rooms, spare bedrooms, or dens.

ambient light - Hisense
Hisense Laser TV. UST design, ALR screen, in our testing room, with significant ambient light from large picture window - shade is half open

By the time you deck out the Optoma with a 100” screen and all the trimmings, it will still be a bit less expensive than the Hisense at its $7999 price point (with screen).  Myself, I’m more of a “separates” guy, and 100” screen size to me is on the smallish size.  Now, on the other hand, Hisense’s announced 120”, on the other hand…interests me greatly, especially with the promised improvements in performance.

With the shade in testing room mostly closed, but light coming in from two doors, still handles dark scenes well.
With the shade in testing room mostly closed, but light coming in from two doors, still handles dark scenes well.

For those rainbow sensitive (RBE) like me, the Hisense seems to have a mid-speed color wheel, probably a 3X.   I see more rainbows with the Hisense (on the type of scenes that bring out the rainbows – mostly dark areas with fast moving bright white objects), than I do with many DLP projectors, but still less than the Acer laser projector, which is the one competitor with noticeably better black levels.   Because I’m one of the (est. 5% or less) of the population who is RBE sensitive, I wouldn’t buy the Acer – despite the black levels) and probably wouldn’t buy any DLP without a 5X wheel.  But, then, I’m the exception. Most folks don’t have to deal with any RBE, so can focus on the benefits.

In addition to some laser based 4K UHD projectors what other competition might you consider?

Well for more money ($9999.99) there’s the brand new Sony VW695ES which will offer better black levels, in a traditional projector design. You’ll need a proper screen however, so pricing will be roughly 30%+ more.  The less expensive VW295ES I recently reviewed has black levels on par with the Hisense, or perhaps a touch better, and it has better color, but again, is more geared for better rooms (darker surfaces, etc.)

JVC serves up a 1080p pixel shifter (4K capable) with great black levels for $3999 and their first native 4K projector for $6999.  Count that native 4K as a serious alternative, but again, designed to be best in that really dark theater.

Epson’s 5040UB – least expensive traditional HT projector with excellent black levels is $2500, add at least $1K for an ALR screen, but the Hisense fits your living room much better than any of those traditional ceiling mounted projectors.

Only the LG HU80KA provides a lower cost and interesting smart alternative – The LG 4K UHD home entertainment laser projector beats the Hisense when it comes to smarts, because with the LG – as you might expect, the smarts all work, since they provide the same smarts as in their LG TVs.  The LG is more of a mobile projector, while the Hisense, is definitely for setting up a common room as your place to enjoy the big screen experience.

The Bottom Line on the Hisense Laser TV

It is certainly fun.  I’ve used it with friends around to watch TV.  We’ve spent the day watching football on it, and at one point, I switched from the Hisense to the $40K Sony, during a break.  My two friends didn’t notice until I pointed it out 30 minutes of football later, when one of them said.  Did you change something?  I think the picture is brighter now.  (It was brighter with the Sony.)  I noted that he didn’t notice the warmer color from the Sony, as the Hisense is a little cool – something I like to a degree for sports viewing.

The point is, there are hard core enthusiasts who pay attention to all the details, the flaws, and the strengths of a TV, and then there’s the rest of the population, who just want a good looking picture and tend to be far less critical.

This Hisense Laser TV will appeal to those I just described, and folks that’s a far larger market than those of us who seek perfection (or something approaching it).

In other words, I think, despite my issues with black levels, and less than great color accuracy to be worth considering, but I realize that the color and other performance areas of the picture are more than impressive enough to please most of the folks that would consider this Laser TV/Projector system.

The Very Bottom Line.  At its new just under $8K price, complete with screen and screen mount, with its built in wired, and wireless networking.  With the possibility of reliable voice control (if/when they fix the Alexa Skill), the Hisense is competitive with stand alone (and non-UST) 4K UHD laser projectors, and more suited to common rooms than a dedicated theater.

For many, the Hisense Laser TV 1008E version currently shipping, is worth serious consideration for less than fully dark rooms (non-theaters).  With the recent price drop of $2K, it is now a full system competitive with much less smart stand alone projectors.

Pros

  • 4K Capable 4K UHD DLP projector with HDR support
    • Works with 4K from 4K Blu-ray disc, streaming
    • HDR looks really well, with little or no sense of dimness
  • Extremely bright projector – most modes over 3500 lumen!
    • Combines with UST design, and ambient light rejecting screen
    • Able to handle rooms with more than a little ambient light
  • Convenient UST design – projector just below screen
    • Speakers on sides – for room filling sound
  • Excellent gaming projector
    • Low input lag  (around 16ms)
    • UST placement is ideal for gaming
  • Smarts – the Hisense is a smart TV/Projector comes with pre-installed apps
    • Alexa support – but needs improvement
  • Sound is excellent for laser TV or HE projector
    • 50 watts of Harmon Kardon speakers built in
    • And comes with HK powered Bluetooth subwoofer for dynamic sound
    • Produces loud volumes suitable for action movies when needed.
    • Very good bass!  Not super deep, but the sub-woofer is a major plus!
    • Overall well balanced sound quality better than all but pretty high end sound bars (with subs) on conventional TVs
    • Digital audio output – ideal for outputting audio from streaming, if you own ann even better AV sound system than the Hisense provides
  • Good to very good Picture quality
    • Colors run cool (bluish white) in most modes “right out of the box”
    • Calibrates for much better balanced color(common)
    • Color accuracy is more “home entertainment” (i.e. typical TV), than home theater enthusiast, purist

  • Streaming through apps worked extremely well
  • Very sharp image
  • 4K UHD tech. plus good (if sometimes over the top. image sharpening and detail)
    • Great especially on sports viewing including lower res 1080i…
    • Has CFI for smooth motion, multiple settings
  • Long life laser light engine     
    • 20,000 hours!
    • Laser engines hold color and brightness pretty constant, only shifting over years, not months (typical for lamp projectors)
  • Good remote control
  • Good warranty:  2 years parts and labor on projector, sub-woofer and screen
  • Good documentation – better than most (start-up guide, user manual)
  • Overall, an interesting, UST home projector designed well for use outside of a dedicated home theater (but works there as well).

Cons

  • Color can be a bit better. Post calibration we ended up with very good color on non 4K content with HDR and good color on 4K with HDR.  Many projectors calibrate better.
    • Color is more home TV (home entertainment) than home theater enthusiast/fanatic quality
    • Almost all color modes start out cool to very cool.  We recommend you try our settings for major improvementsUnadjusted, Theater mode is closest to 6500K but despite that not overall color is off.
  • Remote control lacks a backlight
  • Different screen size options would be nice – but they just announced two more sizes
  • Alexa Skill needs real improvement. 
    • It took a while to get registered on Hisense site, then multiple tries to get Alexa.Amazon site to find and get that registration.
    • Once up, many voice commands would not work.  (Power down, volume, mute, work)  Update please!
  • Setup to exactly fill the screen requires a little patience as it takes tiny moves to get things exactly lined up.  (Took 15 minutes with my ALR screen), but after working that through, it took perhaps five minutes the second time setting the Hisense up with my screen in my theater.
  • Two year warranty is very good, but many laser projectors come with a longer warranty on the laser light engine.
  • It would have been nice if one of the USB inputs was on the front for easy access. (use a cable extension)
  • I always ask for a third HDMI input…

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