Hisense U6K 4K TV review: Impressive picture quality without breaking the bank (2024)

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Over the last few years, Hisense has cemented itself as a TV brand that offers serious performance at surprisingly low prices. The company's U6K really puts the "V" in value. This affordable TV serves up quantum dots for rich color reproduction, full-array local dimming for solid black levels, and even Mini LED backlighting for more precise contrast control. Mini LEDs are something we're used to seeing only in the best TVs a step or two above this class.

The result is picture quality that rises well above many rivals, letting you enjoy high-dynamic-range (HDR) videos on a budget without too many compromises in performance. Though originally priced at $800, the 65-inch U6K is on sale regularly for $500, which is a steal of a deal. However, stock of the U6K is getting harder to come by as stores phase this 2023 model out in favor of its 2024 replacement, the U6N.

Both TVs have very similar specifications, so we still recommend the U6K as the better buy while it remains available for less money. Here's why the Hisense U6K is our pick for the best budget TV and best TV under $500.

Hisense U6K 4K TV review: Impressive picture quality without breaking the bank (1)

Hisense 65-inch U6K QLED 4K TV

Hisense’s U6K is one of the best budget TVs you can buy. The 4K display boasts quantum dots, local dimming, and a Mini LED backlight to deliver better contrast and color performance than most competitors in its price range.

What we like

  • Local dimming with Mini LEDs for excellent contrast control
  • Quantum dots provide rich color reproduction
  • Midrange performance for a budget price

What we don’t like

  • The 60Hz panel isn't the best for gaming
  • Viewing angles aren't great
  • Dimmer screen than more expensive TVs

Outstanding picture performance for the money

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Whenever you put a TV that costs well under $1,000 under the proverbial microscope, there's a feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. There's no way you can spend $500 for 65 inches of fun without dealing with some picture performance drama, right? With the Hisense U6K, both shoes stay firmly in place.

For reference, we tested the TV mainly using Filmmaker and Theater Night modes for SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) content. For HDR videos, we used HDR Theater Mode and Dolby Vision Custom with some tweaks to settings like contrast, brightness, and backlight. We also disengaged features like auto backlight sensors, automatic contrast, and noise reduction, and changed motion enhancement to "Film" mode.

The U6K provides impressive, relatively accurate colors with P3 gamut support, and enough pop to propel 4K HDR content to full spectacle level. With around 600 nits of peak brightness, the TV's spectral highlights don't tickle your retinas in the same way as Hisense's nuclear-powered U8K or the TCL QM8, but there's enough punch here to make things cook accordingly. The throne scene in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is particularly striking, revealing fabulous contrast between flashes of gold, rich blues, and deep blacks.

You'll likely want to lower the contrast level for Dolby Vision and HDR10 content, or darker images can look a little blown out. Even then, you won't get the inky black levels of premium TVs that pack in more dimming zones or use OLED panels. But the U6K's Mini LED backlighting and full-array local dimming provide control that translates to clear shadow detail even in challenging content, outdoing similarly priced rivals like the Roku TV Plus.

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The display also provides good brightness when watching standard-dynamic-range (SDR) content, to the point that we stuck with the dimmer Filmmaker or Theater Night modes, day or night. These modes worked well even during seriously challenging scenes like the final battle in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," where detail can easily get lost in a sea of black crush. You'll see just about everything here, even in moderate lighting, and the film grain looks good when upscaled to 4K. The TV's upscaling of HDR sources is solid all around for the price.

Off-axis viewing, which is a particular challenge for displays at this level, isn't amazing, but you have to get pretty far off-center to really notice an issue. That's also the only way you're likely to see blooming (haze or halos around bright objects on dark backgrounds) unless you're watching in a completely dark room. Even then, the TV's excellent dimming skills keep this issue largely at bay.

The only nagging issue that cropped up after a week-plus with the TV is its motion handling. Partly due to the limits of its 60Hz panel, some film content can look choppy even with a touch of motion smoothing, and there's also a fair bit of blur with fast-moving objects or panning.

That's a small price to pay for all the other goodies here, making this easily one of the best 4K TVs we've seen at this price and even slightly above it.

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The design is practical and easy to set up

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Like Hisense's pricier models, the U6K offers dual stand positions with both wide and narrow slots for the feet. This lets you fit the 65-inch model on even relatively narrow TV consoles (though this will squeeze out larger soundbars).

While the design is rather utilitarian, it looks classy enough with relatively slim bezels at the top and simple lines, neither adding nor detracting from your decor. After turning a few quick screws and plugging in your gear, the TV is ready to let the Google Home app take the wheel.

If you're new to Google TV, it's a refreshingly simple process to get all your smarts up and running, especially if you use even a modicum of other Google products like Gmail or Google Photos, which can be used as a background. If you've used Google TV in the past, it's quick to call up your previous streaming apps, and in either case, you can do most logins from a computer or phone. You're then ready to search for content on-screen or with your voice using Google Assistant from the basic remote, which works as expected.

We recommend reading the fine print for privacy settings and skipping "Enhanced Viewing" if you don't want targeted ads. Oddly, you'll also need to hit the remote's menu button and change any HDMI inputs from Standard to Enhanced to properly leverage 4K HDR devices like game consoles. Otherwise, setting up the U6K is a breezy process that takes just minutes.

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The smart TV interface is simple but sluggish

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As intuitive as Google TV is, for some reason, Hisense's implementation seems to cause more trouble than other iterations we've tested on other TVs. The operating system is particularly choppy on the U6K, often lagging when you're navigating through the different screens. Videos are relatively slow to load, sometimes flashing an app's home screen after you've already chosen a show or movie, and the first few seconds tend to look rough as the TV tries to catch up.

The remote itself looks and feels as budget as you'd expect, without extras like backlighting. That said, the menu never froze, and the worst we had to endure was some lag between button presses. All in all, the OS issues are a mild annoyance, not a damning one.

However, if you do want a smoother streaming experience, you can always buy a separate streaming box or stick to access your favorite services instead. Check out our guide to the best streaming devices for our top recommendations.

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Gaming features are a mixed-bag

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Gamers may balk at the U6K's HDMI inputs, which are limited to the older 2.0 standard. This means their overall bandwidth is restricted to 4K at 60Hz, which matches the capabilities of the TV's panel.

This means that the TV is limited to displaying content at 60 frames per second (FPS) without motion interpolation, unlike a 120Hz panel with HDMI 2.1 that would be able to match video at up to 120 FPS. As a result, the U6K can't support 120Hz modes on a PS5, Xbox Series X, or PC, but that's a common limitation for a TV in this price range.

On the plus side, the TV does include HDMI eARC for high-bandwidth audio transfer and some other handy gaming extras like VRR (variable refresh rate) to reduce screen tearing and stuttering, and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) to lower input lag automatically when you connect a next-gen console like a PS5 or Xbox Series X. While playing God of War Ragnarok, gameplay felt smooth and fluid, and the available HDR Game Mode also enhanced HDR color quality.

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Should you buy the Hisense U6K TV?

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For those looking to snag one of the best 65-inch TVs there is for under $600, it's hard to think of a better option than Hisense's U6K. The TV's loaded display technology and features put it at the top of its class, offering generally pleasing and well-balanced performance across content.

The laggy interface is a bit of a downer, but it never caused any real consternation during testing. And the TV's extra features, like VRR and ALLM, make it a versatile performer for multiple use cases.

You can certainly get better picture performance by spending up, including from within Hisense's own arsenal of capable-to-phenomenal models. The pricier U8 series, for instance, offers nearly three times the brightness alongside spectacular contrast and color. But for the money, the U6K is in a class of its own.

Ryan Waniata

Freelance Writer

Ryan is a professional writer, editor, video host, and product reviewer. Since transitioning from audio engineering in Nashville in 2012, his portfolio has spanned the gamut, from entertainment op-eds and trends pieces to gadget how-tos and reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more. The author of hundreds of articles, his work can be seen on Business Insider, Reviewed, How to Geek, Digital Trends, and others. While writing and editing are his primary gigs, he's also a seasoned video host and podcaster, having shot and written dozens of videos. In 2016 he created the entertainment podcast, Between the Streams, which ran for 150 episodes. Since becoming a product reviewer, he's been on a constant quest to find the perfect product (which he has yet to do). He feels a deep responsibility to find readers and viewers of his work the absolute best tech for their money, whatever the budget. When he's not writing, editing, or evaluating the latest gadget, Ryan can be found singing and playing guitar or adventuring in the lush green forests and sandy beaches of the Pacific Northwest.

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Hisense U6K 4K TV review: Impressive picture quality without breaking the bank (2024)

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