Hannspree se40lmnb

Switch on the TV and you immediately notice the blue-ish tinge to a panel that's best described as imbued with blotchy brightness, though we've seen no worse a situation on Edge LED-lit screens of thrice the price.

There's nothing particularly special about the picture options available on this TV. There are various picture preset options including Movie, Eco, Vivid and Studio, while it's only possible to change basic parameters such as brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, and colour temperature. The dynamic backlight can be changed to various low intensities in Eco mode, with an auto using a built-in ambient light sensor to measure surrounding light, and then adjusting accordingly for maximum efficiency.

Advanced options

Advanced menu

Tellingly, the advanced video menu includes just a basic (and ineffective) noise reduction setting alongside a toggle for that ambient light sensor, and X-Contrast, though in our experiments toggling this setting on and off made little difference to the finished picture.

Blu-ray

Armed with a Blu-ray of 2012, the SE40LMNB initially leaves us thinking that it's something of a bargain. The muted colours of the movie are brought out nicely with the SE40LMNB in Movie mode, and the action is presented in a detailed manner that's on the right side of harsh.

We did notice a modicum of blur and the occasional judder from cameras pans, but with plenty of hi-def sharpness to display, some relatively profound black in a CGI shot of Earth from outer space, and some notable shadow detailing in black jackets, the SE40LMNB is halfway to impressing us.

Standard definition

It's doesn't get much further. With standard definition sources – Freeview and DVD – the SE40LMNB really trips-up. A broadcast of Liverpool Vs Manchester City in the Carling Cup on BBC1 reveals a softness that's in stark contrast to its Blu-ray performance. Not only is there a lot of picture noise that just doesn't go away, but there's also a rather garish approach to green that leaves the pitch over-saturated.

We had trouble tempering it without making the players look genuinely ill and over exposed, though the intense colour saturations aren't the only problem. The players have dotty noise around them as they move across the screen, with fast-moving objects causing a streak. Its watchable, yes, but the SE40LMNB isn't advanced enough to show standard definition – if anything, it would help if the screen was smaller or lower resolution, thereby better hiding its shortcomings. It simply didn't compare at all to the clean, accurately coloured and fluid images from the same game on an ageing HD-ready plasma we had nearby.

Freeview

What the SE40LMNB lacks is any detail-boosting tech, though we can't stress enough how much Freeview HD is missed. We do realise that to hit this kind of price Hannspree has had to let a few things go, but why produce a highly capable hi-def TV only to then make it rely on a standard definition source it really struggles with?

A dose of detail-boosting picture processing circuitry would help, as would some effective noise suppression tech, but the provision of some hi-def TV channels would lessen the problem immediately.