As a manufacturer primarily of budget-friendly TVs, Hisense has consistently impressed us with the value of its products. The H8F we tested earlier this year remains a very strong option, at $700 for a 65-inch screen with excellent contrast and color. The H9F is a step up, and the company’s flagship model until its intriguing ULED XD line comes out. It’s brighter, has a wider color range, and doesn’t suffer from as much light bloom as the H8F. At $899.99 for the 65-inch 65H9F we tested, it’s one of the best sub-$1,000 models we’ve seen, and earns our Editors’ Choice for budget TVs.
From the front, the H9F looks almost like an OLED TV, with its glass panel extending all the way to the top and sides without a bezel, bordered only by a thin, silver strip on the bottom edge. A tiny band of chrome sits just behind the edges of the glass, transitioning into the slim, black metal sides of the TV before curving outward around the back to much more LCD-like thickness. Sitting on top of an hourglass-shaped, gunmetal stand, the TV looks premium and stylish.
Three HDMI ports, a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port, an antenna/cable connector, and an optical audio output face left on the back of the TV. A fourth HDMI port, an Ethernet port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 3.5mm service port, and RCA composite video inputs face directly back. The power cable extends from the right side of the back of the TV.
While the H9F looks sleek and high-end, the remote is surprisingly old-fashioned. It’s a chunky, 8.2-inch black plastic wand covered in puffy rubber buttons, with a square direction pad in the center. A number pad and four color buttons sit above the direction pad, while playback controls, volume and channel rockers, and dedicated service buttons for Google Play, Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube sit below it. A pinhole microphone oddly placed near the center enables Google Assistant.
Like the H8F, the H9F uses Android TV for its interface and smart features. It’s a powerful platform with apps for most major streaming services including Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV, Spotify, Tidal, and YouTube. It also includes Google Cast, which lets you stream video to it from your smartphone, tablet, or Chrome tab as if a Google Chromecast was plugged into it.
Android TV also features Google Assistant, which you can access by pressing the Google Assistant button on the remote and speaking into the microphone. It’s a useful voice assistant, but you need to use the remote and can’t access it with the wake phrase, “Hey Google,” like on the Sony Master Series A9G TV. However, you can pair a Google Home or other Google Assistant smart speaker with the TV and control it with your voice that way.
The Hisense H9F is a 4K TV that supports high dynamic range (HDR) in HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
We test TVs using a Klein K-10A colorimeter, a Murideo SIX-G signal generator, and Portrait Displays’ CalMAN software with methodology based on Imaging Science Foundation’s calibration techniques. Out of the box, in Theater Day mode, the H9F shows a peak brightness of 483.9cd/m2 with a full-screen white field and a remarkably bright 1,275.03cd/m2 18-percent field. Combined with an average 0.04cd/m2 black level, the TV shows a contrast ratio of 31,876:1. That’s excellent, comparable with the H8F and without the less expensive model’s tendency toward light bloom. It doesn’t reach the six-digit contrast ratio of the blazingly bright Samsung Q90R, but it’s also a third of the price.
The above chart shows the H9F’s color performance with an SDR signal compared against Rec.709 broadcast standard color levels on the left, and with an HDR signal compared against DCI-P3 color levels on the right.
In Theater Day mode, without an HDR10 signal, the H9F shows excellent color performance. Greens are slightly undersaturated and that pulls yellows and cyans back a bit as well, but all colors are accurate and balanced, with no skewing. With an HDR10 signal, the H9F covers more of the gamut with a much wider reach of color, but magentas run slightly reddish. Regardless, this is very impressive performance for any sub-$1,000 TV, and within spitting distance of much more expensive flagships like the Samsung Q90R.
BBC’s Planet Earth II looks very good on the H9, with its strong contrast and color performance coming through in the natural, balanced greens of plants and the fine details of bark and fur in both light and shadow. Just make sure you set the Active Contrast setting to Off or Low; higher Active Contrast modes produce deeper blacks by eating up shadow detail, making darker parts of the frame muddy. With the feature disabled, the picture is much clearer across the full range of brightness.
Shadow details also come through in the burning lab fight in Deadpool. The flames are bright while the darker parts of the picture can be easily seen without looking washed out. The yellows and oranges of the fire sometimes blend together in the highlights, not showing quite the range of clarity in very bright red-adjacent colors we’ve seen in much pricier TVs like the Samsung Q90R. Considering the H9’s price, however, it’s still very good performance. In other parts of the movie, the red of Deadpool’s costume looks vivid and properly saturated, not slightly dull or purple like it can on some TVs.
The H9’s modest black levels make very deep shadow details a bit tricky, as seen in the party scenes in The Great Gatsby. The cut and textures of black suits can generally be seen on the TV, but occasionally disappear into blackness in certain shots. Highlights are reproduced well, though, with the contours of white balloons and columns easy to make out. Skin tones also look warm and natural.
Game mode on the H9 displays a pleasantly low input lag (the amount of time between when a TV receives a signal and the screen updates) of 17.9 milliseconds. This slightly hurts the picture quality compared with the Theater (Day) mode, which has a 102.6ms input lag.
Like most TVs, you should use Game mode when playing video games on the H9, and its low input lag qualifies it as one of our best TVs for gaming.
One of the Best Budget TVs
The Hisense H9F series is genuinely impressive for a series of budget TVs. While it’s on the high end of the company’s lineup, it’s less than $1,000 for 65 inches. It’s brighter than the H8F, while offering a wider color reach and less light bloom, and the Android TV platform offers plenty of functionality. It’s one of the best budget TVs we’ve tested, and earns our Editors’ Choice.
We’re curious to see how competitor TCL’s latest 6-series compares with the H9F, considering last year’s 6-series was our favorite budget TV at the time, and TCL’s P-series was our favorite before that. If Hisense and TCL continue to keep pace with and attempt to one-up each other, we’re going to keep seeing some excellent big-screen TV options for less than four digits.
If you’re willing to spend much more on a TV, meanwhile, an OLED model like LG’s C9P offers far better black levels and excellent color performance in a slimmer body, and the Samsung Q90R stands out as one of the brightest screens with some of the best color.