The overall build quality of the monitor, though not flawless, also surpasses expectations. Only part of the stand’s base is supported by a metal plate; the rest is moulded in plastic that’s been reinforced with a lattice structure. It felt strong enough to withstand a fair amount of abuse, and there are of course rubber pads to protect your desk. The only part that feels somewhat flimsy is the bezel, but treating it with a bit of care should avoid problems. Heat is also dissipated well as the top of the display never becomes too hot.
In terms of looks, the HG281DJ is a bit of a mixed bag. To start off with, the rather broad bezel is made up of three parts – a matte black inner and outer surround that are divided by a piano-black inlay that carries the rather in-your-face Hanns.G logo and some rather brash stickers. The power LED is a ‘G’ illuminated in blue on the bottom right, and is large enough to be distracting.
It’s also quite clear where the savings have been made. The chassis is dotted by sealed cut-outs and indents, obviously intended to house extra features not included here. For instance, what appears to be an infrared sensor above the LED is not, and at the bezel’s top centre there’s a space for a rocking webcam that has been sealed with a non-matching matte plastic plate.
Unfortunately, these irregularities do rather break the monitor’s otherwise fairly clean lines, and add to the overall ‘thrown-together’ feel. Still, once you remove the two stickers, there are certainly less attractive screens around, especially since the matte black stand makes a nice, streamlined impression.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for its OSD controls. The buttons consist of a row of five down the monitor’s right side. From top to bottom, these cover Menu/back, followed by Auto/input select, Up/brightness and Down/volume, with Power at the bottom. This side arrangement means you have to lean around to see which button does what until you’ve perfected the art of blind operation.
It’s also worth noting that the power button is not only the same shape and size as the others, but is also spaced equally with them, which doesn’t exactly help with the blind operation learning curve. Another unnecessary irritation is that you’re forced to go through a menu when selecting between the two signal inputs. Why not just have a dedicated input switch?
The OSD itself is a bit of a boring affair with its shades of green, black and white. That said, it is well laid out and easy to use. Adjustments are minimal, comprising only brightness and contrast, dynamic on/off (here called X-contrast), colour presets and four-step sharpness – no gamma or colour temperatures to be found here. Out of the four colour presets – Warm, Nature, Cool and User – Nature is the one you’ll want to use most, since it offers a good balance.
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