You might not know the name Hannspree—that is, unless you have kids. In that case, you might be familiar with the company’s extensive line of “themed” TVs with cabinets shaped like sports balls, trucks and trains, even stuffed animals.
In an effort to expand its market to more adult tastes, Hannspree recently introduced the Xv series of LCD flat panels with gloss-black cabinets, including the 32-incher reviewed here. The official model number (JT01-32U1-000G) is among the most ridiculous of any TV I’ve ever seen (and that’s saying a lot!), so I’ll just refer to it as the Xv 32.
At 32 inches, this set is most appropriate as a secondary TV, perhaps in a bedroom or den. Like most modern LCDs of this size, its resolution is 1366x768. The input complement is skimpy, with only one of each type of connection, while the internal tuner can accommodate over-the-air HD, good ol’ standard-def broadcasts, and unscrambled digital cable signals.
One interesting feature is an aspect-ratio setting called No Scale, which appears to display incoming signals without resizing them to fill the screen. This avoids the jaggies and softness that often result when resizing the image.
Playing anamorphic (“enhanced for widescreen”) DVDs with this setting leaves a thin black border around the picture, while playing a test signal from the HD DVD player displays only 1366x768 pixels out of the 1920x1080 in the image. However, when I played a movie on the HD DVD player, it squeezed the picture into the same window as DVDs, which confused the heck out of me. I ended up not using this setting.
Thankfully, the remote is not universal, though it still doesn’t have direct-access buttons for the inputs, which you select from an onscreen list. The layout is straightforward and the buttons are nicely spaced, so the lack of illumination is not much of a drawback.
As for the menu system, it’s simple and very well-organized. When you select a picture control, it drops to the bottom of the screen and the menu disappears, which is as it should be.
On the downside, you must enter and exit each control to make adjustments— a bit more trouble than other designs. The picture controls can be set independently for each input, but the color-temperature and backlight settings are global.
Even with the backlight turned all the way down, the black level was pretty high, meaning that dark images can appear washed out. Interestingly, moving to the left or right away from the center of the screen did not make blacks look lighter as it does with most LCDs; instead, it reduced the color saturation (vividness), which is a less dreadful side effect. This set’s peak light output is very high, which means it’s ideally suited for viewing in a bright room.
Starting with the HQV Benchmark DVD, the fine lines of the vertical detail test were clearly visible, but the horizontal detail was much less distinct; in both cases, fine color lines were less clear than the black-and-white lines. There were few jaggies on moving near-horizontal edges, indicating good motion processing; the waving American flag had more jaggies, but fewer than what I’ve seen on many TVs. The processor quickly and reliably compensated for the conversion from film’s 24 frames per second to video’s 30fps. On the downside, the set provides no noise-reduction control so there was no way to clean up the noise-drenched images in the test clips.
This noise problem was obvious in low-light areas of the Master and Commander DVD as well as in the many fog banks encountered by the H.M.S. Surprise—it almost looked like the fog was filled with flying bugs. Speaking of the fog, it looked a bit bluer than usual, while skin tones looked a bit ruddy. Shadow detail in the below-deck walk at the beginning was so-so, with a few flat, dark patches obscuring low-light details. Things like the ship’s rigging and wood grain were clearly rendered.
Looking at the Apollo 13 HD DVD, skin tones were likewise a bit ruddy overall, and the red of the rocket gantry “popped” more than it should have. Surprisingly, the black of space was less washed out than I expected, and the black letterbox bars were not particularly obtrusive.
The details of the lunar surface and the capsule’s instrument panels were sharp, and the grille on Mattingly’s Corvette looked quite clean; on a set with poor deinterlacing, the lines of this grille would look jittery.
As Hannspree’s first foray into more serious TVs, the Xv 32 is a noble effort that hits the target in some areas and misses in others. The user interface is simple and well-designed, and some aspects of the video processing work exceedingly well. Other aspects, especially noise reduction, don’t work so well. Blacks look surprisingly good despite the measurements, while the shadow detail is only so-so. Color accuracy is not great, but detail is quite good. I look forward to seeing the deficits improved in the Xv series. TPV