The Hisense 55-inch XT770 LCD smart TV impressed us straight out of the box with its looks. This is a particularly fine-looking set, with a thin, clear area around the bezel and a handsome metal stand.
It's a bit of a surprise, really — until recently, it was the top tier TV manufacturers who concentrated on design, with the premium price commanding premium aesthetic sensibilities. Hisense may not be producing anything in rose gold just yet, but they are going beyond the black rectangle.
It doesn't feel cheap or tacky, either — in fact, it's got some weight on it. At 25kg, without the stand attached, getting it out of the box was nearly a two-person job.
The XT770 has four HDMI ports — about average for the current crop of TVs — along with two USB ports, both with wired and wireless networking capabilities. Considering we've had a few rants about HDMI placements in the past, it's worth noting that all four on the XT770 are easily accessible and with absolutely nothing to block them. Quite relieving, really.
It's an active 3D screen — we tested with the standard Clash of the Titans disc and thought the results were fine, if not the best we've seen. We were more impressed with 2D; the image is bright and reasonably clear when playing Blu-rays, with maybe just the smallest bit of blur in very high action. We thought the image was great in bright light too, remaining quite clear under fluorescents.
Sound, however, was a bit disappointing — while the volume was there, we found it a little flat. It would be fine for TV, but was lacking a little for films. We'd recommend pairing this with speakers or a sound bar to get the most from it.
The XT770 is also DLNA certified, and playback of files from USB and network is supported. Getting the TV on the network requires a little set-up, but it was well detailed in the manual. There's a great list of watchable formats and solid support for audio too (although not FLAC, sadly). We loved the interface for file playback — very easy to navigate with a clear lay out.
It's a smart TV, and while the apps on offer are fairly limited, compared to the bigger brands such as LG and Samsung, the interface is clean and easy to get around. It ships with the SBS On Demand app pre-installed, but other than that, the browser and YouTube, there's not much else to really grab anyone's attention.
The remote gets a mention for its dedicated Opera browser (yes, Opera!) and YouTube buttons — two pretty handy apps to be able to launch at a touch.
Hisense has set the RRP at AU$1999, which definitely places it amongst the more expensive second-tier TVs on the market. It also means that you'll probably be able to find it for cheaper if you're willing to bargain.
In the end, all the XT770 really needs is a boost in its smart TV offerings. The SBS catch-up app is a great start, but a few more local Aussie services, either pre-loaded or available for download, would push this set past "quite nice" and into "very good". Still, if you're shopping for a sub-$2000 large-size TV, this should be on your shortlist.