- Review Price: £370.00
In case you haven’t heard of it before, the Hannspree brand hails from Taiwan, and is probably best known for making highly stylised TVs featuring wood finishes and wacky shapes. You can even get a 10in red Hannspree TV shaped like a tomato. Complete with green leaves sticking out of the top. Seriously.
But with the XV32 GT, Hannspree seems out to attract attention not through design but price, and at just £370 this 32in LCD TV is one of the cheapest around. Making this state of affairs all the more remarkable is the fact that on the surface at least, nothing truly major seems to have been sacrificed to make such a price possible. For instance, you still get a digital tuner built in, and you still get an HD Ready native resolution of 1,366 x 768.
The XV32 GT is not even a bad looker for its money, combining as it does some aggressively rounded edges, a cutely bulging speaker section under the screen, and a striking contrast between a black inner bezel and a silver outer bezel. The only ‘uglification’ comes from the rather large logos slapped carelessly to the top-left and bottom-right corners.
We guess, too, that the build quality isn’t the best; the silver bits look a bit plasticky if you get up close and personal. But then you shouldn’t have to do that very often once you’ve got all your cables plugged in.
Plugging those cables in reveals yet more good news. For the set manages to provide two HDMIs despite its price, as well as a component video input, a PC port, a couple of SCARTs and a digital audio output for the DVB-T tuner – plus, of course, all the usual TV connection stalwarts.
There is one curiosity to report among the connections, though; separate digital and analogue antenna inputs. Most TVs just have one antenna input, simply passing the signal on internally between the digital and analogue tuners, and it’s hard to see why Hannspree couldn’t follow the same tried, tested and, let’s face it, simpler path.
Maybe Hannspree would argue that once you’ve got a digital tuner, moments when you might want to use an analogue one are limited, and so making a buyer choose between the two (unless you go to the trouble of getting a split coaxial cable) is no big deal. But it still seems a wholly unnecessary complication to me.
We guess we should also point out that the XV32 GT does not, unlike most of its Freeview rivals, sport a CAM slot, meaning you can’t add Top Up TV. But we don’t suspect this will bother too many of you!
Moving in to the XV32 GT’s onscreen menus, points of interest include plenty of backlight adjustment flexibility, a selection of picture presets that are actually quite usefully calibrated for a change, and a 1-to-1 mode. This latter feature, for translating HD sources to the screen on a pixel for pixel basis, seems a tad bizarre given that the TV is 1,366 x 768 natively rather than the 1,920 x 1080 favoured by pretty much every UK HD source. But we guess it could come in handy with 720p outputs on upscaling DVD decks.
Not surprisingly we approached the XV32 GT’s pictures with a healthy dose of scepticism. But while it’s certainly no high-performance classic, neither is it nearly as rough as we’d frankly expected.
Colours, for instance, are surprisingly bright and rich, rising well to the retina-burning challenge presented by Sky News with all its attendant logos and fancy graphics. The same colour situation also serves it well with console games.
Pictures are surprisingly free of noise too, with even standard definition sources from the digital tuner generally looking clean and artefact-free. HD and standard definition sources both look decently detailed and sharp, as well, without being affected by grain or overstressed edges.
The XV32 GT’s budget nature is, however, abundantly apparent in two key areas: black levels and motion handling.
Dark movie scenes, such as those in any of the many churches our brainy heroes visit in ”The Da Vinci Code”, look decidedly grey about the gills. This is true to some extent of nearly all LCD TVs, of course, even some expensive ones. But the XV32 GT’s greyness is more overt than usual – and thus more damaging to the picture’s sense of depth and background detailing.
It comes as little surprise to find the XV32 GT quoting a contrast ratio of just 1,200:1 in a world where many LCD TVs now claim figures of 5,000:1 or more. Nor is it a shock to discover that it doesn’t carry a dynamic backlight system for reducing the picture’s brightness during dark scenes to improve black level response.
When it comes to motion, objects blur and lose resolution sometimes quite severely as they travel across the screen. At its worst, this problem can make action scenes in HD films look like they’re no longer HD.
The XV32’s speakers look pretty meaty. But that sure isn’t how they sound. They produce practically no bass whatsoever, which immediately makes even a gentle action scene sound flat and compressed. Add to this some rather one-dimensional, muddy vocals and a lack of treble precision, and it’s fair to say that it would probably be a good idea to add some sort of separate sound system as soon as finances allow…
The XV32 GT’s sound is poor, and it suffers from a couple of classic LCD picture shortcomings. But when you take that remarkably low £370 price tag into account, overall it’s still better than expected.
Score in detail
Image Quality 6
Sound Quality 4
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