When tuning the set, you’ll be glad of the full colour menus, which are large, logically arranged and easy to navigate. There is a range of both audio and display presets available, though you’ll want to ignore these in favour of the custom User settings — the ‘Movie’ mode is particularly over zealous in boosting blacks.
Unfortunately, there is no 1:1 pixel mapping mode, either — something one needs when you’re dealing with a 16:10 screen. Aspect ratio options were initially limited to Auto, Full or Normal, with the latter just making any input 4:3. Setting a PC to 1,920 x 1,080, the desktop actually went beyond the physical borders of the display and though Zoom and Subtitle aspect modes had now become available, neither rectified this situation. Even setting HDMI to Underscan still left a large part of the desktop off the screen.
This situation improves when connecting a dedicated AV device over HDMI, but even here leaving the HDMI aspect setting to ‘Auto’ means part of the image gets cut off, so it’s ‘Underscan’ again. Having a purported Full HD television cut off part of a Full HD film by default is a major oversight and matters get even worse when running video over component, where there is no way to fix the noticeable overscan.
So far, so bad, but can the HT09 redeem itself somewhat by offering decent image quality? Unfortunately, this is the other area where this Full HD TV really shows its budget colours. Horizontal viewing angles are reasonable for a budget TN based panel, so though you’ll usually want to be sitting centrally, for most films and games the horizontal viewing angles are good enough to enjoy with multiple people. Vertical ones, however, are a weakness of even the best TN panels and this is one display where you don’t want to be viewing material from anything lower than 90 degrees, as most of the picture will just get lost in black.
In grey-scale tests, the Hannspree HT09 performed slightly better than expected. Its dynamic contrast system does help create reasonably deep blacks, albeit at the cost of some detail at both ends of the spectrum. Backlight bleed is also well-contained, though overall the backlight is a tad uneven. So far, at least, it’s a decent performance for a budget TV.
Things begin to come unstuck due to the set’s poor sharpness, very bad banding and some tearing with fast moving images. Unfortunately, the sharpness issue makes this display difficult to use as a computer monitor despite featuring what is essentially a monitor panel, since even typing or reading articles on the net becomes far more tiring than it needs to be. And while tearing is infrequent, banding is noticeable in any large graded blocks of colour.
Viewing high definition video on the HT09 can be enjoyable, but only if you’re not too demanding. Dark games and films have more black detail than you would expect for this price, but colours lack the punch and verve you’d get from a dedicated HDTV and the scaling issues, poor picture processing and relative lack of size mean you won’t enjoy the full detail to be found in 1080p sources.
For TV use, setting the HT09 up is easy as pie. When on the antenna input, an extra menu appears exclusively dealing with channels. Everything you might need can be found here, including an automatic channel scan that searches for both digital and analogue signals over the TV’s tuner. Likewise, the EPG is a pleasure to use and switching between channels is also as fast as you’d hope. Actually watching digital TV, however, betrays a lack of effective picture processing and noise reduction. This results in some fairly ugly looking pixel crawl and a general lack of fidelity, making the lower quality channels (aka Dave), very difficult to watch.
Overall , the HT09’s many flaws leave it difficult to recommend despite its incredible price. As things stand, this TV will only be suitable for a small minority of users: those who primarily watch the better digital channels, aren’t too picky about image quality and want something to plug their games console into. But even here, if you can afford a little more, you’d be better off getting a ‘mere’ HD-ready television in either 26 or 32 inches that this ‘Full HD’ effort.