Hisense, a Chinese-based electronics manufacturer that distributes their products through retailers like Best Buy, Costco, and Walmart, has redefined the term “budget HDTV” with its K610 series. For an incredibly low price of $798 (list) on the 55-inch 55K610GW, this is the most affordable big-screen HDTV to hit the PCMag Labs, and it’s not what you’d consider a bare-bones model either. The full HD (1,920 by 1,080) panel has a 120Hz refresh rate and uses LED backlighting, and the TV offers wired and wireless networking as well as a decent selection of Web apps. That said, the 55K610GW performs like a budget set; its color quality is sketchy, background noise is apparent, and shadow detail is mediocre.
Editors’ Note: This review is based on tests performed on the Hisense 55K610GW, the 55-inch version of the series. Besides the screen-size difference, the 50-inch $629.99 K610GW is otherwise identical in features, and while we didn’t perform lab tests on this specific model, we expect similar performance.
Design and Features
There’s nothing special about the 55K610GW’s design, but it is a nice-looking HDTV nonetheless. The cabinet measures 2.3 inches thick and sports very thin glossy black bezels with silvery trim. The bottom bezel contains a Hisense logo and a remote sensor, and there are seven function buttons on the right side of the cabinet. The 49.8-pound cabinet sits atop a sturdy glossy black rectangular stand that lets you swivel the panel, but you can hang the TV on a wall with an optional mounting kit.
The left side of the cabinet is home to two HDMI ports, one set of component AV ports, one set of composite AV ports, an antenna/cable connection, a headphone jack, and a digital audio output. Harder-to-reach down-facing ports include two additional HDMI ports, Ethernet and VGA ports, an analog PC audio input, and two USB ports. The USB ports would be much more useful if they were more accessible on the side of the cabinet.
You can use the side-mounted buttons to change channels, adjust volume, select an input source, power up the set, and access the Settings menu, but it’s much easier to use the included remote. The 9-inch wand is done up in a glossy white finish with a matte black face and black rubberized buttons, none of which are backlit. In addition to the usual number pad and player controls it offers dedicated Netflix and Vudu buttons as well as Hi-Smart (Web apps) and Hi-DMP (digital media player) buttons.
The 55K610GW has six picture presets: Theater, Standard, Energy Saving, Game, Vivid, and Custom. Basic settings let you adjust brightness, contrast, color, and sharpness, while Advanced settings allow you to tweak color temperature, 120Hz motion smoothing, noise reduction, dynamic backlighting, and adaptive contrast.
You usually don’t find networking capabilities on budget HDTVs, but the 55K610GW bucks that trend with both wired and wireless Internet connections and a good selection of Web apps which can be accessed via the Hi-Smart portal. Streaming video apps include Netflix, Vudu, You Tube, and Vimeo, and the Vudu Apps catalog offers more than twenty news, game, sports, and lifestyle apps, including Facebook, Flickr, the New York Times, and the Discovery Channel.
The 55K610GW is a budget HDTV and it performs like one. It produced a relatively low contrast ratio of 6,359:1 with a not-so-dark black level of 0.0603 cd/m2. Shadow detail suffered as a result of the middling blacks; the deep ocean scenes from the BBC production of Planet Earth on Blu-ray were not as crisp as they should have been, and the outer space opening sequence looked soft and slightly washed out.
Color accuracy is a mixed bag. As shown on the chromaticity chart above, reds and greens were right where they should be according the CIE (International Commission On Illumination) standards, which are represented by each corresponding box. Blues, however, were literally off the charts and way oversaturated, resulting in a bluish cast and a picture that ran cool even with the color temperature set to warm.
Background noise was also an issue that eased up a bit with Noise Reduction set to Low, but it was still noticeable. Changing the setting to Medium or High is not recommended, since it resulted in a loss of detail and a picture that looked unnaturally smooth and soft. On the plus side, viewing angle performance was quite good. There was no obvious color shifting or dimming when viewed from top, bottom, or side angles.
The 55K610GW used 105 watts of power during testing in standard mode, which is good for a 55-inch LED backlit TV. Usage dropped to 84 watts with energy saving mode enabled, and the picture was still bright enough for most lighting environments, which is even better. While not quite as low as the Panasonic TC-L55DT60 (60 watts in Eco mode) or the LG 55LM6700 (67 watts), the 610GW is still an energy-efficient big-screen HDTV.
With a rock-bottom price of $798 you’d be hard pressed to find a more affordable 55-inch HDTV than the Hisense 55K610GW, especially one that offers wired and wireless networking and Web apps. If not for its over-saturated blues and significant background noise this would be the deal of the century. Nevertheless, the K610 series is still a very good deal for budget-conscious consumers looking to move up to a big-screen HDTV. If you want a slightly larger screen, the Vizio E601I-A3 offers similar features and better color accuracy on a 60-inch display for just $200 more. If your budget is flexible, consider our Editors’ Choice for mid-range big-screen HDTVs, the Panasonic TC-L55ET60. It offers much better color balance, a higher contrast ratio, inky blacks, and a robust feature set (including 3D capabilities).
|Video Inputs||Component, Composite, HDMI, USB|
|Diagonal Screen Size||50 inches|
|Pixel Refresh Rate Speed||120Hz|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc