Hisense have been working on their Laser TV products for a while - their first effort appeared in Japan five years ago - but are just now aiming to bring their product to the Australian market with the debut of their 100-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart Dual Colour Laser TV with HDR.
Composed of a 100-inch projection ‘screen’, a wireless subwoofer and the laser console itself, the laser TV comes in at $19,900 including delivery and installation (more on this below) with a feature list just about long enough to justify the price tag. Does it really qualify as a TV though, or a projector?
PC World took a hands-on look to find out if Hisense’s new offering can hang with the big guns in a serious home theatre set-up.
Considering that Hisense’s most expensive TV offering in the Australian Market (the $4999 65-inch Series X OLED) clocks in at quarter the asking price of the Laser TV, you have to ask whether the unique technical design or larger screen-size of the latter is worth the premium.
After all, OLED is still widely considered to be the gold standard in television screen tech and OLED veteran LG currently offering a 77-inch OLED TV in Australia around the $10,000 mark.
To help justify the higher price-point, Hisense does include a JBL Cinema Sound system incorporating two 10W speakers into the body of the projector and a 60W wireless subwoofer, which together provide a bass-rich and solid sound unmatched by any built-in TV speakers. That said, given the price difference, questions do spring to mind as to how much sound you could buy for the $15,000 that seperate the two products.
As for projectors, the the Hisense Laser TV is significantly more expensive than both cheaper 4K projectors from brands like BenQ and Epson and similar short-throw units from Sony and LG.
When it comes to price, the Laser TV probably has more in common with luxury-grade fare like LG's brand new 88-inch Z9 SIGNATURE OLED 8K flagship - which weighs in at an eye-watering $59,900 - than it does most premium home theatre projectors.
Brightness and Picture
With 4K resolution and HDR10 inbuilt, the Laser TV has the basics down pat to try and go toe to toe with its TV competition.
While it still can’t reach the depth of blacks that its OLED rivals can, the Dual Laser projection looked crisp and sharp streaming an HDR-enabled episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror and goofing around in Castlevania on a SEGA Mega Drive Mini.
There was minimal fading considered the room was bathed in natural light on a sunny Sydney morning, although the projection is not able to match the sheer brightness available on Hisense’s OLED and ULED offerings. This feels like a point for the projector side of the argument.
While hooking up your own audio is always an option, the ability to have strong sound out of the box is a big plus of the Laser TV. It comes loaded with Hisense’s VIDAA smart TV interface for easy functionality with Netflix, YouTube, Stan and the rest of the video-app gang as well as an inbuilt digital TV tuner.
With all of these features available at the press of a button on its satisfying weighty and solid remote, this integration definitely leans the Laser TV into the yes camp of the ‘is it a TV?’ conversation.
Hisense’s Laser TV comes packaged with a 100-inch screen and the aforementioned wireless subwoofer. Altogether the package weighs a superlight 30kg, with the 100 inch ‘screen’ surface barely moving the scale at just a single kilo - you might have to be careful that friends or family don’t walk out the door with the lot at the end of your next movie night or gaming session. The 100-inch 4K display is nothing to sneeze at either, a size not easily met in the either TV or projector worlds.
In terms of form-factor, the overall package is a lot closer to a TV, soundbar and subwoofer setup than a traditional projector.
The laser console itself is rectangular, sitting narrower, deeper and taller than your average soundbar but similarly designed to be perched atop your TV cabinet of choice beneath the screen. In this sense the Laser TV is right at home among the big-screen televisions of the world, its short-throw design ready to take the place of the (comparably) bulky TV you presumably threw out upon beginning to read this article.
Included in the price of the Laser TV is a white-glove installation service and delivery, with mounting of the 100-inch screen and calibration of the Laser TV included in the purchase cost for buyers in major metro areas.
This is on par with the service expected with most high-end televisions, and something that comes in handy with the Laser TV’s specific projection requirements. Given the lightweight and cable-free nature of the projection screen, its mounting rails also provide a leg up over traditional competition.
While the customisable and flexible nature of projectors is one of their natural selling points, installation is not generally something that comes included in their cost. With that in mind, it's something that you could probably squeeze into the budget when drawing up the costs of the Laser TV against a traditional projector.
Tallying up all of the pros, cons, costs and benefits, Hisense’s 100-inch Laser TV makes a strong case to stand up and be included in the high-end TV segment.
In the time we spent with it the unit felt very much like a traditional TV in its form and function with a huge, crisp display and intuitive inbuilt features. While it meets the 4K and HDR standards that should be considered obligatory once entering this heady price range (especially with LG now offering 8K, albeit on a smaller screen, for a little under $12,000), the decision of whether the extra size is worth the hefty premium is one to be considered.
The Hisense 100-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart Dual Colour Laser TV with HDR is available from JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and The Good Guys for $19,999.00.