Some TVs stand out from the crowd with their designs, while others rely on their features. Others use high performance levels to tempt you.
The Hannspree XV32 GT, though, goes the classic price route, reeling you in with the promise of 32in of good-looking flatscreen LCD TV for just £400.
That’s even cheaper at the time of writing – albeit only by a quid – than the latest 32in LCD TV from archetypal budget brand, Goodmans.
An attractive LCD with an even more attractive price
Given its Taiwanese origins, we frankly expected the Hannspree XV32 GT to be short of a few of the features we normally take for granted on a UK-manufactured TV, given its price.
But actually, all the key bases seem covered. For starters, it’s HD Ready, thanks to a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels and carriage of the necessary HDMI and component video inputs.
In fact, it has a pair of v1.2 HDMIs – as many as numerous TVs costing more than double. Two other XV32 features that certainly can’t be taken for granted at £399 are the provision of a PC input, plus a built-in digital tuner complete with adequate electronic programme guide support and even a digital audio output.
Some interesting features from Hannspree
Unusually, the set employs separate RF inputs for the TV’s analogue and digital tuners. But other than potentially requiring you to get an RF splitter, if you desperately want the analogue tuner as well as the digital one, this dual RF situation is no great problem.
As with various other megabudget LCD TVs, the Hannspree XV32 doesn’t carry a CAM slot for adding the Top Up TV subscription service. But we don’t anticipate that many of our discerning readers will miss this.
The XV32’s decently presented onscreen menus contain more picture and sound fine-tuning flexibility than we’d expected.
Cheap TV doesn't mean lack of features
For instance, there’s a series of quite carefully calibrated image presets; a 1:1 playback mode for optimising 720p HD sources (if you can find any) and a facility for manually adjusting the TV’s backlight output.
There’s no automatic backlight adjustment for black level optimisation, as sported by many more expensive TVs these days. But the screen’s native contrast ratio is quoted at a respectable 1,200:1 all the same, and the lack of auto backlight adjustment should at least make the picture more stable.
The final positive feature of the XV32 GT is its design, which is far more attractive than the majority of cheap screens currently available.
A user-friendly set
Not surprisingly the XV32 GT’s remote is nothing special in terms of build quality. But its layout is fine, and it works well with the onscreen menus.
In other words, aside from the split RF input, it’s hard to see how the XV32 GT could be much easier to handle.
Usual LCD picture weaknesses
Scoring the XV32 GT’s picture is rather difficult. For while, on the one hand, a couple of arguably inevitable weaknesses stop it from rivalling the best high-price LCD televisions, it certainly stands out proudly from practically all of the budget competition.
Let’s cover the bad news first. The two weaknesses we referred to are those classic LCD ones of black level response and motion smearing.
Regarding the former, really dark movie scenes tend to look as if they’re taking place behind a grey veil as the TV struggles to resolve a deep black.
We’ve certainly seen far worse examples of this in the budget world, but there’s also no denying that many costlier sets now handle black levels better.
The motion smearing problem sees fast-moving objects losing resolution as they pass across the screen, and this occurs even if you’re watching high-definition sources. This can leave HD images looking slightly soft at times.
The XV32 GT’s good news kicks off with its colours. Colour-rich fare such as Sky News or Ratatouille on Blu-ray looks extremely vibrant, yet without subtler tones looking forced or overtly unnatural.
Edges of colour-saturated objects are decently controlled and well integrated, too. Also very surprising for the XV32 GT’s price point is how noiseless pictures look.
How does Hannspree do with high-defintion?
Hi-def material is less troubled by grain or dot crawl than we’d expected, and even standard-definition fare from the digital tuner looks crisp and clean, aside from the resolution blur we’ve discussed.
Next, despite not exactly being class-leading, black levels do at least tend to work well enough for most TV (as opposed to movie) sources. Finally, the picture is unusually bright for a budget set.
The net result of all these strengths is that it only rates as an acceptable movie machine, while it is actually quite a good TV.
A bargain television
The XV32 GT’s audio is rather average, truth be told. Trebles are reasonably bright without sounding hissy, the mid-range is clear if not especially expansive and there is a rather debilitating lack of bass.
With the prices of larger TVs crashing ever lower, it takes a really pretty special deal to excite us in the budget 32in market these days. But the Hannspree XV32 GT is just such a deal