(Pocket-lint) – The Hisense AG9 4K OLED TV combines a host of high-end features with the company’s usual excellent build quality and competitive pricing.
On the picture side of things it supports all the major high dynamic range standards: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision IQ, HLG, and even IMAX Enhanced. Audio is handled by a 2.1.2-channel sound system that supports Dolby Atmos.
Once you factor in the VIDAA U smart platform, a decent selection of content streaming apps, and Freeview Play, you get a really competitive package for the money. So what, if any, are its weak spots?
Design déjà vu
- Dimensions (55-inch): 1234mm (W) x 736mm (H) x 279mm (D) / Weight: 30.7kg
- Ports: 4x HDMI 2.0; 2x USB; Ethernet
- Wireless: Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 5.0
The Hisense AG9 sports an overall design that’s reminiscent of Sony’s ‘monolith’ TVs from a few years ago. The minimalist appearance, speaker bar at the bottom, and inclined screen all hark back to those earlier models. And just to add to the confusion, Sony released an OLED TV called the AG9 back in 2019.
While the Hisense design may lack some originality, the build quality remains excellent, with a solid base to support the panel and a pair of upward-firing speakers built into the rear.
There’s a decent set of connections, too, but annoyingly the sideways-facing inputs are only 10cm from the edge of the panel – which means the cables might be visible. There are four HDMI 2.0 inputs (three side- and one rear-facing) with support for 4K at 60Hz, HDR, ALLM, and eARC
There are also terrestrial and satellite tuners, an AV input (adapter included), an optical digital output, an Ethernet port, two USB ports (2.0 and 3.0), a headphone socket, and a CI slot. In terms of wireless connections, you get built-in dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The stylish remote control is long and slender, with an eye-catching black and silver two-tone finish. This zapper is comfortable to hold, easy to use with one hand, and intuitively laid out, with direct access buttons for the main streamers, including Freeview Play.
Comprehensive set of features
- HDR Support: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, and Dolby Vision IQ
- IMAX Enhanced
The Hisense AG9 uses a 4K (3840 x 2160) 10-bit OLED panel, and while no OLED screen will ever hit the peak brightness of an LCD TV, the self-emissive nature of OLED delivers deep blacks and pixel-level precision highlights that give the contrast far greater impact.
This superior contrast performance is immediately evident when watching First Man, and as the Apollo astronauts enter lunar orbit, the inky blacks, exceptional shadow detail and pin-point stars are rendered with remarkable precision and clarity.
Screen uniformity is excellent, with no signs of banding, dirty screen effect, or colour tinting on the panel. The AG9 also handles reflections well, minimising light diffusion, and the very wide viewing angles ensure perfect pictures no matter where you’re sat in the room.
The Cinema Night mode is the most accurate standard dynamic range (SDR) picture setting, with natural colours, deep blacks, impressive shadows, and well-defined highlights. Images are also very detailed thanks to decent upscaling and processing that includes Hisense’s Alphonso AI-enhanced auto mode.
The AG9’s motion handling is generally very good too. The Ultra Smooth Motion menu offers a choice of smooth, standard, clear, film and custom. Film fans should leave all these off, but sports fans might find the mode works well, while the custom mode allows for experimentation.
The Hisense is generally very good when it comes to high dynamic range, with Cinema Night the best choice for HDR10 and HLG, while Cinema is the preferred setting for HDR10+. The peak luminance measured 570 lumens – so nothing like the four-figure brightness that some LED backlit LCD screens can emit.
While the peak brightness could be higher, OLED’s self-emissive nature still produces exceptional dynamic range. The deep blacks and specular highlights combine with near-black gradation that’s surprisingly refined, drawing out details in the spooky shadows of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
The colour performance is also very good, and reaches 98 per cent of the DCI-P3 colour space. This means you’re getting the full benefit of HDR’s wider colour gamut, so a movie like Thor: Ragnarok looks stunning, with punchy comic book-like colours that are sure to delight.
When it comes to Dolby Vision the Cinema mode is the most accurate, but might be too dark for daytime viewing. Luckily the Dolby Vision IQ mode addresses this by using a built-in sensor to adjust the picture brightness based on the ambient light and dynamic metadata.
There’s also an IMAX Enhanced mode, but its purpose remains a mystery as playing the IMAX Enhanced Bad Boys for Life didn’t automatically select this mode. It just seems to be another HDR mode, but is best avoided because motion smoothing is greyed out and always on.
There isn’t much to complain about when it comes to the Hisense AG9’s picture quality, but there are a couple of issues worth mentioning.
First, the 20-point white balance control doesn’t work, and just turning it on will adversely affect the image. So if you’re planning to calibrate this TV only use the 2-point white balance control and leave the 20-point off. Thankfully you can get a very accurate picture with the former.
Secondly, the tone mapping could be better, with the AG9 clipping some HDR content. The peak luminance of a display is less important than its ability to map HDR to that brightness, and while the AG9 handled 1000nit material well, it clipped 4000 and 10,000nit content, which is a shame.
Not a great choice for gamers
- ALLM support
- Low input lag
The Hisense AG9 has some gaming features, but overall there are better choices for next-gen gamers. The telly’s HDMI 2.0 inputs support ALLM (automatic low latency mode), but not the 4K at 120Hz and VRR (variable refresh rate) features. The game mode delivers an input lag of 26.8ms, which is good but doesn’t measure as low as some of the competition.
If you’re happy gaming with the previous-generation of consoles then the AG9 will serve you well, and the HDR images of Horizon Zero Dawn on the PS4 were pleasingly detailed, with smooth motion, well-defined highlights, and responsive controls. There’s minimal risk of screen burn, as long as you’re sensible and don’t leave games on pause for hours.
Simple but effective
- VIDAA U 5.0
- Amazon Alexa built-in
- Works with Google Assistant
The Hisense AG9 runs the latest version of the company’s VIDAA U smart platform (v5.0), and while simple, this system is also intuitive. There’s a full-screen home page with all the apps, features, and information laid out in a fashion that’s easy to understand and navigate.
Apps appear along the centre of the home screen, above is content related to the app currently highlighted, and beneath are rows of content based on recommendations. At the very top of the home page are icons for searches, inputs, settings, recordings, and the electronic programme guide (EPG).
The interaction is slick, customisable and easy to navigate thanks to the responsive remote control. Amazon Alexa is built-in, and the system works with Google Assistant too, turning the AG9 into a fully functioning and agnostic smart assistant, with added voice control.
The apps include Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Britbox and Rakuten TV. There’s also Freeview Play, which not only means all the UK TV catch-up services are present, but there’s also a well-integrated EPG and recording via an external drive. Only the absence of Disney+, Now, and Apple TV+ disappoints.
High-end sound system
- 2.1.2-channel system
- Dolby Atmos
The Hisense AG9 is an excellent sonic performer thanks to the speaker bar being built into the bottom. When combined with the built-in woofer at the rear, a pair of upward-firing speakers at the top, and 100W of amplification, the result is an impressively immersive 2.1.2-channel system.
The forward-firing main channels produce a clean and focused front soundstage, and thanks to those upward-firing speakers, the AG9 can render Dolby Atmos with genuine overhead channels. There’s also some decent bass delivery, although it can’t compete with a dedicated subwoofer.
There are a seven sound modes: Standard, Theatre, Music, Speech, Late Night, Sports, and Auto (when the Alphonso AI-enhanced viewing mode is turned on). While all of them are self-explanatory, they do provide plenty of flexibility in terms of the AG9’s acoustic setup.
The Hisense AG9 is a very good 4K OLED TV, combining solid build quality with largely accurate pictures, excellent 2.1.2-channel sound quality, and an effective smart platform.
There are a few issues such as clipping in some high dynamic range (HDR) content, a dodgy 20-point white balance control (for those who would want to calibrate), and the absence of key apps like Disney+.
Compared to most of the competition you won’t find another OLED TV this feature-packed for the same price, making the Hisense AG9 worthy of consideration.
This set doesn’t include a 77-inch screen size, but there is a 48in version to accompany 55in and 65in models, and like the Hisense it supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. The picture quality is also exceptional, making this the obvious choice for film fans.
Although this set doesn’t have a 48-inch option, it does include a 77-inch version to go with the usual 55- and 6-inch screens. There’s no HDR10+ support, but otherwise this OLED offers a comprehensive set of features and is a great choice for gamers.
Writing by Steve Withers. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published on .