First impressions of the Hannspree's pictures aren't great. The screen displayed noticeable light pooling (from the LED backlighting system) in each of the four corners – it was as if an X-Men logo was trying to bust through from behind. To be fair to Hannspree, this is something from which sets even from higher-end brands such as Samsung suffer, but it does mean that your viewing pleasure, particularly with movies, will be spoiled somewhat by inconsistent black levels.
Standard-def Freeview material from the TV's own tuner has its own problems, with images coming across as two-dimensional, soft and blighted by blocking and mosquito noise. Calling on the noise reduction filter didn't improve the latter much, but switching off 'Flesh Tone', however, quickly makes actors look less like radioactive waxworks and more like people.
Some of these picture issues are more noticeable because of the screen size and the poor quality of many Freeview broadcasts, but some blame has to lie with Hannspree, as other sets manage to get much more agreeable pictures out of the digital terrestrial platform. It makes the lack of a Freeview HD tuner even more of downer.
The SV42LMNB's performance steps up with hi-def Blu-ray material. Switching from Freeview material to Avatar is akin to waking up after laser eye surgery, with the 1,920 x 1,080-pixel panel delivering sharp, colourful pictures with plenty of contrast. Fine details, like facial stubble, are impeccably picked out and the range between dark blacks and peak whites goes some way to justifying Hannspree's hyperbolic 4,750,000: contrast ratio claim.
However, the light pooling issue mentioned earlier limits the immersive effect of which this TV would otherwise be capable of achieving. In the outer space shots in Avatar's opening chapter, it's almost impossible not to notice that some bits of the inky black universe look brighter than others, while in more brightly lit indoor scenes, corners of the image appear to lack contrast.
Using a disc of dedicated test patterns further exposes the picture flaws of the SV42LMNB. While there's good colour gradation in green, yellow, magenta and cyan, blues and especially reds show a serious lack of subtlety – which is one of the causes of the flat-looking SD pics. Greyscaling, however, is much more consistent.
Other patterns reveal the set's motion-handling to be quite poor, with a drop in detail during horizontal and vertical pans. There's little judder, just an unappealing blurriness. Activating the 100Hz mode helps alleviate the problem, but you have to then accept the somewhat artificial looking images being crafted by Hannspree's picture processing as well as occasional artefacting when the silicon can't keep up.
The SV42LMNB also fails some blocking tests spectacularly; anyone into long, uninterrupted footage of running water should prepare for disappointment.