Hisense 100L5FTUK 4K UST Smart Laser Projector and Rigid Projector Screen Combi Review

Combining smart features, 4K HDR playback and a 100in screen, this 'Laser TV' appeals to John Archer

Once upon a time there were televisions and there were projectors, and never the twain shall meet. Here, though, in the shape of the 100L5FTUK-A12, we have increasingly innovative brand Hisense bringing these two disparate AV technologies together with a solution designed to give you the best of both worlds. Yes, the 'Laser TV' moniker is a bit odd, but I'm prepared to cut Hisense some slack.

The idea behind the 100L5FTUK is deceptively simple: Combine a rigid high-gain, 100in projector screen with an ultra-bright 4K laser projector, so that home cinema fans can enjoy a king-sized TV-like experience for a fraction of what an actual 100in TV would cost.

The screen part of the 100L5FTUK equation is a narrow-framed design with a wall bracket. As well as using a highly reflective surface, it employs a lenticular filter designed to reject ambient light, so that most of the light you see on the screen has come straight from the projector. This is vital if you want to retain a punchy picture from a projector in a room potentially full of ambient light.

The projector part of the 100L5FTUK is a classic ultra-short-throw design. It sits 30-40cm below the screen and less than 30cm away from your wall – on an AV cabinet, say – throwing its picture-carrying light out of an aperture on its upper edge. A so-called X-Fusion single-laser lighting system promises 25,000 hours of working life without any need to replace it. The quality/brightness of the image should reduce far less over that life span than you'd experience with a regular lamp, too.

Using laser technology also means the projector can be turned quickly on or off, like a TV, without the warm up/cool down times associated with lamp-based models.

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Planet Of The Apps
In keeping with its TV-not-projector theme, the 100L5FTUK's features include a digital tuner and Ethernet/Wi-Fi network connections. This network support feeds into a fully fledged VIDAA smart system, complete with the Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Freeview Play and Rakuten TV streaming apps (all of which get their own dedicated buttons on the Laser TV's slim, metallic remote control). There's currently no support for Disney+ or Apple TV+, but Hisense suggests that they should be added before the end of the year.

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Other connections include four HDMI inputs (many projectors still only carry two), and two multimedia USB ports. The HDMIs are built to the v2.0 standard, and don't support any HDMI 2.1 features – that means only ARC audio passthrough rather than eARC, and no support for 4K/120Hz playback and VRR gaming. Input lag is higher for gaming than it is with most TVs, too, at just under 45ms, and there is no support for HDR10+ or Dolby Vision – you just get HDR10 and HLG. Of course, these limitations apply to the vast majority of projectors.

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A final feature Hisense's Laser TV turns its lens up at is 3D, something that is still fairly common on other models.

We're Gonna Need A Bigger Wall
Getting the 100L5FTUK up and running isn't as easy as just wrangling a TV out of its box – despite an impressive auto calibration system that helps address geometry just by taking a photo of the screen on your phone (making sure your phone and projector are on the same Wi-Fi network). Handy, then, that at the time of writing Hisense is offering a free professional installation service to buyers.

Built into the PJ's rear – so it fires out into the room – is a 2 x 15W-rated speaker system hidden behind a black fabric cover. This doesn't just serve up stereo; there's a surprisingly effective Dolby Atmos decoder built in. The size of the soundstage generated is genuinely remarkable, throwing sound not just left and right, but also upwards, leading to a more convincing sense of Atmos height effects than some soundbars I've heard.

The only issue with this performance is that bass is pretty limited, leaving big movie moments feeling thin, and the occasional shrill treble a bit over-exposed.

Not Going Native
In some ways the 100L5FTUK is a strong picture performer for such an unusual and, in the circumstances, affordable display. It's not a native 4K projector, but its DLP-based faux 4K optics deliver HD-beating levels of detail and clarity. Focus and sharpness are maintained across the 100in image.

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