Taiwanese manufacturer HANNSpree specialises in creating TVs that look different: but while TVs shaped like apples or basketballs are certainly destined for a market that that can be generously described as 'niche', the HANNSlounge is unusual in a good way.
Designed to look like it is constructed from leather and wood (sadly, it's actually plastic), this LCD TV has an appealing '50s charm that should win it a few admirers among those looking for a spot of Bang & Olufsen-esque style without the associated expense.
While it might lack the ultra-sleek, ultra-compact lines of a Sony or Samsung screen, the HANNSlounge's chunkier, Charles Eames-inspired design gets the thumbs up from us.
The 1366 x 768 resolution and inability to process 1080p means you don't get 'full HD' functionality, but then 720p and 1080i are more than sufficient for a 26in screen. Hi-def gear can be hooked up using the single HDMI or component video inputs, and there's also a VGA port for hooking up a PC or an Xbox 360. A handful of standard def inputs rounds off the selection.
The features list is fairly unimpressive, with the lack of an internal digital tuner the biggest disappointment. Not only does this mean you're restricted to five channels, but also that the won't receive any in a few years when analogue broadcasts stop.
This makes an external Freeview, cable or Sky receiver an essential accessory for this TV.
Picture quality from the internal tuner is rather substandard. As on most flat TVs, analogue terrestrial pictures aren't great to start with, but the fact that we couldn't find a way to change the aspect ratio meant we had to watch programmes in widescreen when they should have been in 4:3.
As with the last HANNSpree TV we reviewed, the remote control button that supposedly changes the aspect ratio sets the automatic switch-off timer. There is presumably a way to switch its function, but it's not made clear anywhere. This is a brainless design decision and the company really needs to sort it out in future TVs.
Unsurprisingly, things get better when you connect an hi-def source. With an Xbox 360 hooked up, the image proves to be reasonably sharp, noise-free and free from smearing during fast motion. The screen can also output very bright greens and reds with a decent source.
There is a touch of haloing (a slightly brighter glow) around text and the like. Sometimes this can be fixed by toning down the sharpness of the picture, but here it makes next to no difference.
Audio quality is decent rather than outstanding, but the inclusion of an optical digital output means that you can easily hook the HANNSlounge to an external sound system should you wish.
HANNSpree is to be commended for its attempt at originality, but we can't help but feel that there's little to like about this TV once you get under the retro skin.
This TV isn't particularly easy to use, it doesn't boast any stand-out features, it only has one HDMI port, and its audiovisual performance is average.
The price tag is not particularly low either, so unless the design truly appeals to your aesthetic tastes, you'd be better off looking elsewhere.