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- Hisense's foray into Google TV delivers on content, not on features.
Hisense's foray into Google TV delivers on content, not on features.
We like Google TV. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that we like the platform a lot—we said plenty of nice things when we reviewed it on LG’s GA6400. Streaming apps, cable integration, voice recognition—this platform does it all.
Enter the Hisense Pulse (MSRP $99.99), the Chinese company’s take on Google TV. The physical unit looks similar to an Apple TV or Roku box, and promises the same Google smart platform that we enjoyed on the LG GA6400. Did Hisense succeed? Mostly. There are a few blunders on the Pulse, but the content is there.
How It Works
Even with its snags, setup on the Pulse is no sweat.
Setup for the Hisense Pulse should be a simple affair: Plug your cable box into the Pulse’s HDMI input, connect the Pulse into your TV’s HDMI input, turn everything on, and enjoy. Oh yeah, you need some kind of internet connection to make all of this work, so WiFi should do. Or not.
The Hisense Pulse gets terrible WiFi reception. We tried to connect to our network in two separate rooms—both of which have TVs and laptops that connect wirelessly without a problem. The Pulse would not find the signal, no matter how long we waited. After giving up on wireless, we used an old-fashioned ethernet cable. Problem solved, but we wasted way too much time. If your TV is near a router, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Speaking of the remote, Hisense bundles a clunky dual-sided one with the Pulse. The top features a touchpad, various buttons for apps, and volume/channel control—best for channel surfing, selecting content, and using apps; the bottom sports a full QWERTY keyboard—great for finding content and a rarity on smart TV remotes. The freedom from an onscreen keyboard makes this reviewer very happy.
While the remote is thicker than most, and the touchpad isn’t very responsive, it’s an overall good addition to the Hisense Pulse package. We still prefer LG’s sleek motion-controlled (and QWERTY) offering on the GA6400 Google TV, though.
Content streaming, cable compatibility, and pizza delivery, but broken voice controls
The Hisense Pulse features a mostly-untouched version of Google TV, which means access to content services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, VUDU, HBO GO, and even Google’s own store—the only notable omission is Hulu Plus. Streaming apps are the bread and butter of any smart platform, and we’re more than satisfied with what’s offered.
Google’s app store, called the Play Store, makes an appearance, but don’t be deceived into thinking that every Android app is available. If you want to download a game, you won’t find the latest and greatest—just solitaire apps and other boring card games. At least there’s a Papa John’s pizza delivery app, and it works very well. Bon appétit!
After restarting the Pulse and making sure everything was updated, the voice search feature still wouldn’t work. Really, Hisense? This selling point that doesn't work misleads consumers.
Great content, but missing a key feature
Let's be honest: The missing voice controls on the Pulse are a huge letdown. With that said, the Google TV experience seen on the LG GA6400 Google TV is far superior, offering a better remote and both gesture and voice controls. Then again, at least the Pulse only runs you $100. To get LG's Google TV, you'd have to buy a whole TV. The Pulse vies for a spot in your living room, along with Apple TV, Roku, and video game consoles.
With an MSRP of $100, the Hisense Pulse offers plenty of streaming content and a remote with a full QWERTY keyboard, making movies and TV shows incredibly easy to find. In fact, the Pulse is the only smart TV box that has a QWERTY keyboard remote. Coupled with its stellar cable TV integration, this is still a decent product.