What Hi-Fi (UK)

Hisense R50A7200GT­UK


The Hisense Roku R50A7200GT­UK is likely to be the cheapest 50in TV we’ll see on sale in the UK this year from a major manufactur­er. It promises a good-sized, punchy 4K HDR image and all the major apps and services you could need, without so much as an additional box or stick in sight.

It’s a pledge that Hisense honoured so well in 2020 that it has decided to leave the recipe pretty much as it was for its 2021 Roku TV. While there are many Roku TVS available in the US, for the UK this Hisense model stands alone.

The price is just £399, although if last year’s set is anything to go by, that could drop significan­tly later in the year. 43in, 55in and 65in sizes are also available, though our review sample here is the 50in version. On paper, these other panel variants are identical, apart from that the 43in one comes with a lower-powered

2 x 7W speaker system and the top-end size benefits from a 2 x 10W set-up.

These Hisense Roku TVS are available only in the UK and are exclusive to Argos. This telly’s styling is simple and unfancy, and its chassis is almost the same as that of the previous model. It’s a little more uniform on the rear, though the overall thickness remains identical. The feet have a matt finish instead of gloss, but that’s about it.

The one key improvemen­t is on the front, where the bezel has been reduced from a fairly basic-looking 1cm band to something closer to 4mm, giving a more contempora­ry aesthetic. There’s no change to the useable and fully featured remote control. There are direct shortcut buttons to Freeview Play, Netflix, Google Play Movies & TV, Spotify and Rakuten, plus some clear navigation and media controls too.

Around the rear of the set are three HDMI 2.0-rated ports which can manage frame rates of up to 60Hz at 4K level. There’s also a USB 2.0 socket, a wired headphones connection and ARC support for easy connection to a soundbar.

The Roku TV smart platform is pretty close to flawless. It covers all the major streaming services as well as thousands of seriously niche ones. You want a channel dedicated to crossbow hunting? It’s there. Always fancied more knowledge of the cigar industry? You’ll find that here too, along with plenty of other topics.

The only gaps in its offering that might not work for some are missing apps for Britbox, Apple Music, Amazon Music and VLC, although it does have its own Roku media app and is Airplay-enabled, which means you can stream most missing content from Apple devices.

Recent additions

You’ll find 4K HDR content available on all the big players. Since last year’s model was launched, UHD support for Google Play has arrived, as has the BT Sport app, which is good news for football fans.

It’s also well worth downloadin­g the Roku Channel, which brings free access to more than 10,000 films, TV episodes and documentar­ies from over 40 content partners. But it’s not just the apps that make Roku great, it’s the ease of use. The menu system is simple and clear, and the universal search is excellent. Type in the name of an app, TV show, film, actor or director and it brings up all the informatio­n you need. Results pages show all the streaming services where each title is available, with the resolution and price informatio­n. That now includes the catch-up services, which is an upgrade on the platform compared with last year’s Roku TV.

To set-up voice searching, you’ll need to download the handy Roku TV app which also allows you to add new channels, cast content from your mobile or tablet to your TV, or just use it to control playback. We also love the Private Listening mode on the app interface. Press that and the TV’S sound is routed through your device. Attach a pair of headphones to your mobile and you have a personal AV experience – perfect for late-night viewing.

Ease of use

For live TV, the Freeview tuner is at the helm, along with the Freeview Play homepage of curated catch-up content. At the heart of the experience is a quad-core processor that comfortabl­y drives the system with barely a hint of lag or frozen responses at any point. Once again, Roku TV is a pleasure to use from top to bottom, from app to screen.

Despite its low price, the Hisense is still a direct-lit LED TV and it shows.

Compared with others at this end of the market, the light levels are fairly even across the panel and, even if there’s a little bit of bleed, the blacks are strong, with no off-putting blotchines­s. Unlike more expensive direct-lit LED sets, though, there appears not to have been enough left in the budget for any local dimming zones, and that’s probably the most telling absence on the spec sheet.

Watching the opening sequences of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 on 4K Blu-ray, the Missouri cloudscape is more heavy-handed than we’re used to. The dramatic overtones are still there, with plenty of contrast to handle that, but the lack of close control to individual areas of the backlighti­ng means that the picture is missing the subtlety of a more expensive TV set.

However, Hisense seems to know where this TV’S strengths lie. It’s not trying to offer finesse, it’s aiming to land a punch, and it does so successful­ly. It’s bright and colourful, and even sharper and richer than its apparently identical predecesso­r.

This second run of Hisense Roku TVS for the UK really comes into its own once we leave the confines of Earth and head to the Sovereign planet for the Guardians’ battle with the Abilisk and a firework display of colour and fun. The kaleidosco­pe of gases spewed by the multi-dimensiona­l, tentacled monster look terrific, and the characters flying around it are bold and well defined in all their HDR glory. There’s no adjustment for motion processing onboard, but while there’s some judder, it’s not hard to cope with. There’s no blurring and smearing of the action to distract either.

Switching down to HD with Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Blu-ray, we are reminded of last year’s Roku TV and its brilliance with upscaling from 1080p. Fortunatel­y, that ability remains intact.

The opening scene in the hut is as revealing in terms of shadow detail as we could hope. It’s worth adjusting the brightness slider in the picture settings until you strike the right balance. In terms of starting points, the Normal setting gets you closest to the best results, but make sure ‘TV Brightness’ is set to max.

Both the early scenes of Rey’s desert home on Jakku and the lush, green forests of Maz’s home planet of Takodana are produced with enthrallin­g colours and so much natural detail that it’s hard to find fault with the picture. Even watching the BBC News in SD, the picture is remarkably sharp and stable.

Levels of complexity

Our only real criticism of the image is at higher resolution­s. Occasional­ly that punchy approach can take things too far. It doesn’t have the chromatic complexity of more expensive TVS. The result is that, every now and then, inevitably, the colour of a piece of clothing or skin tone misses the mark.

For example, Quill’s overcoat ends up a little too oxblood in the throne-room scene in front of Princess Ayesha. There’s also a moment when Gamora’s green face is a little too lurid. But these mishaps are relatively few; what this TV does with its limited technical resources is impressive.

According to the spec sheet, there’s no difference between the Hisense Roku R50A7200GT­UK and its 2020 predecesso­r, but their two sonic presentati­ons are like chalk and cheese. One favours clarity, the other authority but, ultimately, neither one produces particular­ly better TV sound than the other. It seems there’s only so much life that can be squeezed from this modest two-8w-speaker system.

As with the picture adjustment­s, there are only a few settings to play with – only really the DTS processing mode and a dialogue enhancer. There’s also a Truvolume mode for night-time listening which will limit the peaks and troughs of loudness at any one volume level, so that you can hear the onscreen action without waking your neighbours.

Watching the battle sequence outside Maz’s tavern midway through Star Wars: The Force Awakens gives an excellent sense of what this speaker system can manage. Given its limited resources, this TV copes pretty well. The sound effects of the laser blasts and the TIE fighters screaming past are crisp and detailed. The battlecrie­s and dialogue of the Rebels and troopers are clear and placed effectivel­y in the soundscape. When the X-wings come to the rescue and chase off the Empire, the rousing score still manages to excite.

Naturally, there’s not enough under the hood here to cover the whole frequency range with quality sound. Hisense has opted to prize the midrange and upper-mid sounds, which is good for voices but means that there’s not a huge amount of impact to gunshots and explosions. Equally, the sound can feel a little strained and congested in the treble. If you find it borders on being difficult to listen to, switch off the DTS.

The value equation

That said, to expect much more from a TV at this price would be unrealisti­c. It never fails to deliver the meaning of the source material, no matter the content. You might wish for a little more fun while watching big action movies, but you’ll be thanking your lucky stars every time you opt for more character driven dramas.

Does it spread the audio all the way round the room? Does it offer heightinfu­sed Dolby Atmos sound? No. It’s a TV with small speakers and just enough processing that means you can understand what everyone is saying. Not even all soundbars can manage that.

The vintage may be different, but this is another great year. We suspect that Hisense and Roku have made the best 50in TV that you’ll find for under £400 in 2021. Neither the picture nor the sound is perfect but, combined with a brilliant feature set and an unbeatable content offering, the results are a lot more than the price infers. It’s like uncorking a £4 bottle of wine and discoverin­g that it’s no cheap plonk. And we’ll drink to that.

“The kaleidosco­pe of gases spewed by the tentacled monster look terrific, and the characters flying around it are bold and well defined in all their HDR glory”

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 ??  ?? Neat rear-panel design; three HDMI 2.0 ports; bezel is smarter on this year’s model
Neat rear-panel design; three HDMI 2.0 ports; bezel is smarter on this year’s model
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