EI’s trade-focused reviewer, Richard Stevenson, reviews the Hisense PX1 Laser TV.
Having been suitably impressed with the sheer value of Hisense’s PX1 ultra short throw projector, we had a chance to test the brand’s intriguingly named ‘Laser TV’. No, not a return to bulky rear projection TVs of old, but a combination package of a dedicated short throw projector and an ambient light rejecting (ALR) screen.
The 120in Hisense 120LH9 tested here and the 100in 100LH9 use the same UST projector, a single-chip DLP unit with 4K pixel-shift and RGB laser source, punching an impressive 3000l. The ‘TV’ moniker comes in as the projection unit has an on-board Freeview tuner and PVR, Android TV smart features, Alexa, AirPlay2 and Dolby Atmos sound – all the niceties you expect on a premium 4K TV if not usually in a projector.
The specification is top drawer too, with multiple HDMI 2.2 ports including one with eARC, a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, 4K upscaling and compatibility with the full roster of HDR formats. It achieves 107% of BT2020 colour gamut, has 2x20W power for sound, and comes with comprehensive remote control. Just for good measure, as it will be sitting in front of the viewer, the aesthetic design is curvy and classy, and the whole system is 90% recyclable. It also uses about a third of the energy of a 100 in LCD TV.
The ALR screen is a 16:9 ratio lenticular design. This has fine horizontal ridges with a reflective surface angled towards the viewer and a semi-light absorbing surface on the other side of the ridge. The upshot is that the light thrown upwards from the projector is reflected towards the user, while light from the room itself, including windows, reflections and room lighting is not. The screen looks mid-grey when the projector is off, which is arguably a much subtler look than the glossy black slab of a big-screen TV too.
Build and set up are likely to present a couple of challenges during installation. The screen is built and the fabric is tensioned as normal, but the construction of the lenticular lens array within the cloth means a high degree of care is required to avoid damaging creases. However, the mounting kit supplied is very slick as the brackets are height adjustable after the screen is installed to cater for the inevitable drill wander.
The second challenge stems from positioning the projector and screen. The projector is fixed focal length and fixed focus, meaning to achieve the required screen size image it needs to be precisely 30.3cm and 37.2cm from the wall for the smaller and larger screen sizes respectively. For the 120in screen in particular, placing the projector on a typical TV cabinet of, say, 40-50cm tall will almost certainly mean the top of the image will be higher than the typical UK ceiling height of 2.3-2.4m.
The only solution is to lower the projector, and in AWE’s demo set-up, that meant around 25 cm above floor level. Dedicated TV cabinets that are low are few and far between, so AWE teamed up with Kinetik to create a custom cabinet designed for the purpose, the KLIF-UST1CS, available in black, white and oak finishes with or without side cupboards. A little bespoke joinery or a very low coffee table would also cut it, of course.
The positive of the fixed focus, fixed zoom and single-chip DLP system eliminating the need for colour alignment, is that once the screen is up and the projector is positioned correctly, it is pretty much plug-and-play. The projector even comes with little feet cups you secure to the cabinet top to ensure that the image remains perfectly aligned with the screen – even with an enthusiastic dusting of the projector.
Given the 120in, Hisense’s 120HP is about a quarter of the cost of my Sony VPL-XW7000 and Screen Excellence Reference screen, the picture it produces is nothing short of stunning!
It is bright, vivid and crisply detailed despite testing in a fully lit room, in the daytime with a side window streaming in light, where the aforementioned Sony would be barely visible. In my first experience with a dedicated ALR screen versus a normal projector and screen, the image difference in a well-lit room is night and day – quite literally. Dimming the lights or drawing the curtains continues to bump up the image brightness and contrast, allowing the full gamut of the Hisense’s punchy colour rendition to shine through.
If the customer is not into eyeball-searing room lighting or uses a conservatory as the lounge, they could absolutely use this set-up as a day-to-day TV. Moreover, the lack of window reflections from the screen is another plus point over a typical highly reflective LCD/OLED – very noticeable in my lounge where patio doors to the garden are directly behind the sofa.
The 120in diagonal screen gives a huge movie feel and 4K games properly come to life. Sports are breathtaking in HD, although upscaling SD Freeview content to 4K reveals the limitations of the source and scaling engine. The artefacts and fuzzy edges are far from offensive though, and even SD remains eminently watchable. Of course, detail resolution, image handling and brightness uniformity are not going to worry a premium, native 4K laser front projector and screen for overall home cinema impact and image quality, but it’s not that far off!
Onboard sound is less to write home about, but the projector’s shape and size do give the drivers more room than a typical flat-panel TV, so it certainly improves on basic TV sound.
Again, for day-to-day viewing, that may be all the customer wants. Yet, there is always the option of an incremental soundbar sale, particularly as the Kinetik cabinet has a dedicated slot for one.
For the relatively affordable retail price, Hisense Laser TV makes a lot of sense against a similarly sized LCD/OLED screen, which would cost multiples of the price, and it is a real revelation for those that have not seen a laser projector and ALR screen combo before. The picture is excellent, easily watchable in a lit room and the operating system, smart features, neat remote control and built-in apps for all the big-ticket video services make it feel very much like a TV.
The 120in version is quite a whopper for a TV, and I can only imagine the 100 in version to be even brighter, even crisper, and arguably even more practical in most ‘TV’ installations.
I think the biggest challenge integrators will have in selling a Hisense Laser TV for the games room, spare room or even a bedroom, is getting the customer to realise how good a projector can actually be in a well-lit room. Consumers just don’t know about this technology as yet, so a demo is pretty much essential and the LH9 series has an immediate and compelling must-have wow-factor.
When I had my home cinema room built, an ‘add-on’ tease of an affordable 100 in screen installation in the room I use for e-sports would have been a no-brainer. Actually… there’s still time!