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Although flatscreen televisions have dropped quite a bit in price across all screen sizes in the past several years, the budget-priced TV category it still out there with some interesting options to choose from. My Hisense 50H8C TV review covers a 50-inch television that costs less than $500, placing it directly in the budget area of the market. It falls square into the best TV for the money sweet spot. Or, if you just need a small TV for your bedroom, check out our ViewSonic VT2430 24 inch 1080p LCD TV review.
Hisense didn’t skimp on features with this inexpensive model, though. The 50H8C offers Ultra HD/4K resolution, multiple local dimming zones, WiFi connectivity, and four HDMI ports. This model is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, which makes it struggle a bit when showing fast-moving action movies or sports. And its wide angle viewing capabilities are poor, so you’ll want to be careful about the type of room in which you use the Hisense 50H8C. But at less than $500, it still represents a very good value.
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Great price point and strong 4K image quality combined.
Summary: A poor viewing angle limits the usefulness of the Hisense 50H8C in certain rooms, but it offers good image quality and 4K resolution at a low price point when using a direct viewing angle.
Price: $499.99 on Amazon (50-inch screen)
Available: June 2016
Other Screen Sizes Offered: 55-inch for $699.99
What We Liked
What We Didn’t
This 50H8C Hisense model comes with, without mincing words; a pretty dang basic design. The black plastic borders around the screen measure about 0.5 inches in thickness, which is a common measurement. The thickness of the TV (at about 3.3 inches) is also an average measurement. Even though there’s nothing particularly special about the look of this Hisense TV, it’s still a decent design for a 50-inch TV, because the viewer’s focus will be on the screen, where it should be.
If you choose to use the included support legs with the 50H8C and display it on a shelf or entertainment center, the legs measure about 9.5 inches in depth. During my tests, I found that the legs offer a sturdy base, and I didn’t notice any unsteadiness on this TV.
The 50H8C uses a Vesa 200×200 wall mount design, but because of the location of more than half of the TV’s ports on the back of the unit, it can be tough to access these when the model is mounted on the wall. That said, you can still access the five side ports when wall mounting the unit. This makes it convenient when placed in any of your best TV mounts.
Take a look at the Hisense 50H8C’s specs and you’ll find plenty of ports, especially considering this TV’s sub-$500 price point. The 50H8C has four HDMI ports and three USB ports. Two of the HDMI ports are on the side and two are on the back. All three USB ports are on the side panel. The Ethernet jack is on the back, along with the component-in ports.
One odd feature I found with the 50H8C occurred with the HDMI ports. Only two of the four HDMI ports (the ones on the back) can support 4K resolution at a 60Hz refresh rate. The other two HDMI ports (on the side) can only support 4K at a 30Hz refresh rate. So you’ll want to use the back HDMI ports if you’re running programming at native 4K resolution, keeping in mind that it can be difficult to access these ports if you choose to wall mount the 50H8C. Hisense did not include 120Hz refresh rate support for this model at any resolution.
Audio quality is acceptable with the Hisense 50H8C … to a point. As long as volume levels are kept at a reasonable setting, you should have pleasing audio results. But if you’re someone who wants to use loud sound settings, I began to notice some distortion when I significantly increased the volume during my tests. The built-in speakers don’t offer the deep bass you may want for watching movies, either, so purchasing a soundbar may be a good idea for better audio quality. But for everyday TV viewing at average volume levels, the 50H8C’s built-in speakers can still provide adequate quality on their own.
I have to admit I was skeptical that the Hisense 50H8C’s display quality would be good, primarily because of the TV’s price point. But oh how wrong I was. The 50H8C screen offered an impressive and steady color accuracy throughout my tests. The objects on the screen almost jump out at you, both when viewing native 4K content and when viewing upscaled HD content on the 4K display. It’s a pleasing look.
Compared to other 50-inch TVs in this price range, the contrast ratio found with the 50H8C at about 4000:1 is above average. The uniformity of black across the screen is also better than expected versus other models in the budget-priced area of the market.
The Hisense 50H8C input lag measurements are slightly above-average versus other 50-inch models, which means using this TV for multiplayer gaming will provide adequate results. If you’re running native HD resolution games, you can expect an input lag of around 35 ms to 40 ms. But if you’re playing 4K resolution games, the input lag will be closer to 55 ms, which admittedly is still a decent performance level for 4K.
The 50H8C HDR capabilities are a bit of a surprise to find in a TV in the sub-$500 price range. There aren’t many TVs in this price range that support HDR, and HDR technology provides a wider range of color than you’ll find on televisions without HDR. Now, the 50H8C’s HDR capabilities aren’t perfect, and it won’t be able to compete with top-end models in terms of the range of colors its HDR technology can offer, as its HDR performance is about average at best.
One additional note regarding HDR: Hisense released a firmware upgrade for the 50H8C late in 2016, adding support for the HDR10 spec, so you’ll want to make sure your model has the latest firmware installed before you get to watching any HDR-specific content.
Hisense included a full array backlight and local dimming technology with the 50-inch model, allowing it to dim the backlight behind certain areas of the screen, making blacks appear deeper in those areas. However, the local dimming didn’t seem to work as well on the 50H8C as it does on some more expensive TVs. There seemed to be slight shadows as the TV switches the local dimming zones on and off, which can be distracting. Along these same lines, you may notice some dark corners with the 50H8C, depending on what’s displayed on the screen.
However, the biggest drawback to this Hisense model is its poor performance when viewing the screen off-center. In fact, you’ll notice a degraded image when viewing the TV from an angle as shallow as 15° or 20° off center. This is one of the poorest performance levels regarding viewing angle we’ve found in our large screen TV reviews. You won’t want to use the Hisense 50H8C in a room where the seating area is spread horizontally around the television’s location, and the seating needs to be almost dead center to the LED TV screen in order for it to really shine at its brightest.
Hisense strongly emphasizes the Smart TV features in its 50-inch model in its marketing materials, but there are some problems with lock ups and inconsistent performance.
Hisense makes use of the Opera Smart TV interface with its 50H8C model, meaning you’ll download apps from the Opera TV Store. The manufacturer preloaded some of the most popular Smart TV apps, so you’ll have access to apps such as Netflix, VUDU, Amazon Video, and YouTube immediately. But the Opera TV Store doesn’t have some of the other popular apps, meaning you can’t access Hulu, for example. This model certainly lags behind some of the best Smart TV options in that regard, so if you don’t have a secondary streaming box (a Roku or Xbox, for example), you’ll want to take this into consideration before making a purchase.
As pictured here, the 50H8C’s remote control provides instant access to the four apps mentioned above through dedicated buttons at the lower end of the remote. This is a handy feature for these particular apps, but you’ll have to scroll through menus to access any other apps. Opera TV does list the apps you have downloaded in a horizontal layout with two rows of tiles you can select. This is a common interface layout for Smart TV options that works well.
Another area where the 50H8C’s Opera TV interface struggles a bit is with its web browser. The browser locks up on occasion, leading to a mandatory reset. And when the Opera TV features are working, the response sometimes is sluggish, meaning some apps and menus are slow to load.
The Hisense 50H8C manual is only available through a download from the Hisense Web site, but the printed Quick Start Guide included with the TV can help you start using the unit’s Smart TV features almost immediately. It’s easy to connect your home network, either through Wi-Fi or ethernet, gaining the most from the Smart TV features possible.
I have to admit I was surprised by the results from my Hisense 50H8C TV review, versus my expectations going into the testing. Compared to other models in its price range and screen size, the 50H8C stacks up pretty well with its 4K resolution, strong color accuracy, HDR compatibility, and a good contrast ratio of 4000:1. The most disappointing aspect of this model is its poor viewing angle, and nless you’re seated almost directly in front of the TV screen, you’re going to notice a significant degradation in image quality overall.
If you’re seeking the best Smart TV option though, the 50H8C does not make the cut. The Opera TV platform lags behind Roku and some other platforms, both in terms of performance levels and in terms of the number of apps offered.
Considering its price point, the 50H8C is a strong 4K TV, offering pleasing image quality, whether upscaling HD programming to fill the screen’s 4K resolution or displaying native 4K programming. The Hisense 50H8C is also a good cheap gaming TV option for your upstart mancave, offering slightly below average input lag times versus other 50-inch options. All told, the 50H8C has some flaws, but it also has enough strengths that it represents a best TV for the money versus other 50-inch models.