Average image quality, but you can't argue with the price
Screen size: 50in, Native resolution: 1,920×1,080, Video inputs: 2x HDMI, USB, Tuner: Freeview HD, Dimensions: 698x1119x245mm
It’s been a while since Expert Reviews had a non-smart TV in for review, but there’s certainly an appeal for TV watchers who already have perfectly decent set-top boxes, Chromecasts or Roku sticks. You can make big savings with simpler sets, and ditch internet-connected models altogether. The HiSense LTDN50D36TUK is perhaps one of the most appealing TVs you can find on the web; it’s a 50in panel for under £350. That’s a cracking deal whichever way you look at it.
HiSense isn’t a well-known brand in the UK, having previously focused on mainland Europe and Asia, and but the firm is slowly expanding its product range and bringing more premium sets to Britain. It still has a strong roster of budget sets though; you may recall its £449 4K TV announcement from earlier this year.
The LTDN50D36TUK is about as basic as they come – but that’s no bad thing. It means the onscreen menus are refreshingly nippy, without any unnecessary animations slowing things down. It also means they are fairly ugly, and a little bit counter-intuitive. For example, the EPG menu is a little inflexible. Unlike modern EPGs, you can’t see multiple channels’ schedules at once. Instead, you can either see a single channel’s next eight scheduled programs, or a list of eight channels and the program that’s currently broadcasting.
Similarly, the ‘info ‘ button only shows a description for the program currently showing and the next programme on the current channel. It’s all very functional and all very basic.
Image quality is very average. If this TV was any more expensive, I’d be remorselessly tearing it apart, but at this price there are acceptable compromises, as long as you don’t consider yourself a cinephile. For example, when watching HD broadcast television using the Freeview HD tuner, I saw a lot of nasty jagged edges on objects with a high-contrast background. Well-lit faces in an otherwise darkened room can look as if they’ve been badly edited into the scene.
There are other issues, too, particularly with HD Blu-ray content. Watching Interstellar, there was no end of juddering on moving objects. This was especially noticable in the docking sequences where large spacecraft, supposed to be making subtle movements, looked clumsy and juddery as they moved into position.
Colour and lighting was much better, though. While the inky blackness of space was greyer than I’d like, black levels felt nice and low and I was also reasonably happy with the panel’s viewing angles. While you do get a noticeable shift to darkness as you move around, anything up to 45 degrees is acceptable and you won’t feel hard done by if you get the corner seat every once in while.
I ran our usual calibration tests on the TV, without much hope of them coming up with any good numbers. sRGB colour coverage was excellent at 98.4%, but the rest of the numbers weren’t quite as impressive. Colour accuracy was way down according to my measurements, with most colours, including blues and reds, much paler than you’d want. Maximum brightness in Standard mode was a fairly low 186cd/m2, while black levels were a little high at 0.49cd/m2, which explains for the slightly grey deep space I saw in Interstellar. These two figures lead to a contrast figure of 375:1, which isn’t impressive.
Image adjustment options are unsurprisingly limited. You can set brightness, contrast, colour saturation, sharpness, tint and backlight brightness. There’s also noise reduction that didn’t make a huge difference that I could see. If gaming is your thing, you’ll be happy to know that this TV has just 28ms of input lag, which is low enough for console gaming, although PC gamers playing with a mouse will want to steer clear.
The speakers are fine at medium volumes; I found anything over 70 started to get distorted and unpleasant. Luckily there’s an optical S/PDIF port on the rear if you want to hook up higher-end speakers.
At the rear there’s also a USB port, which supports playback of all the major video formats I test, including H.264, MKV, MOV, MPEG4 and XVID. The only format I could find that it didn’t support was WMV. There are also two HDMI ports so you can hook up a set-top box and a games console if you wish.
The HiSense LTDN50D36TUK is a ridiculously cheap Full HD TV – the same money would only buy a 32in version of Samsung’s excellent J3600. With ridiculously cheap products, though, there are compromises. If you’re a cinephile, steer well clear. If you’re a more casual viewer without a head for image quality, or someone who just wants to play games on a big screen, it’s a great choice. Buy the HiSense LTDN50D36TUK now from Richer Sounds
|Contrast ratio||Not stated|
|Video inputs||2x HDMI, USB|
|Audio outputs||3.5mm, S/PDIF|
|Streaming TV services||None|
|Price including VAT||£333|
|Warranty||Four years collect-and-return|