Though their execution of 8K may fall just a tad short of the bigger brands displaying the latest TVs at IFA 2019, Hisense still managed to grab my attention with one of their 8K models in their booth here in Berlin. Not only because it was a Hisense branded 8K—which had me dreaming about the day when more-affordable 8K might become available—but because it was a concept set that had a unique twist that I don’t recall ever seeing on a TV before.
A second functional display.
Built into a floor standing piece of furniture that holds the TV and also contains a 4.2.2 multichannel speaker system, the narrow second display isn’t a true screen in that you’d find yourself watching picture-in-picture types of content. Rather, it serves as an extension to the TV interface and is really less of a distraction than you’d initially think.
The only other thing that comes close to what Hisense had on display here was the unveiling by TCL—also at IFA 2019—of a soundbar with a second display that would sit below their 8K TVs. The major difference between the two comes down to size. TCL’s is no more than a few inches across, while the Hisense second screen is narrow but still roughly one-third the width of the 85-inch TV it was positioned under.
In the brief show floor demo, you see a series of screen saver type videos that included a dark starry night scene and a digital fireplace. As for actual features that you can interact with on the second display, the user can check the weather and news, navigate the TV apps and push content onto the main screen, receive notifications (perhaps allowing you to watch TV without your phone in your hand), control their lights and other smart appliances, access their digital voice assistants (presumably to control those smart home devices or to navigate the TV experience), and even listen to music and watch the corresponding lyrics scroll across the second display.
If there was one knock on the second screen that I could find it would have to be the visibility of the content. Trying to see what was happening on the display, let alone snag a few pictures of the various features, was a bit tricky, especially under trade show lighting conditions.
According to Hisense, this specific model that was on display, the HZ85U9E, is a Chinese special edition—meaning it’s unlikely that we’ll see this product ship anytime soon. Further, exact pricing details are essentially nonexistent.
Still, Hisense was certainly able to grab the attention of many a passerby with this concept TV. In a market where there really isn’t a great deal of design innovation, this is something that I could see as adding real value to the TV viewing experience.