Average picture quality doesn't prevent the Hannspree Xv 32-inch LCD TV from being a solid choice for budget flat-panel buyers.
Hannspree, if you're among the 99 percent of the population who's never heard the name, is best-known for HDTVs shaped like stars, pigs, or basketballs. The Xv model looks refreshingly classy in comparison, but its claim to fame has little to do with design and a lot to do with price. So yeah, the Xv is inexpensive, but its feature set--while not quite up to the standards of the Vizio VX32L HDTV, for example--is still pretty extensive. As for picture quality, the Hannspree Xv might not be as accurate as the Vizio, but it's still fine for the price, especially if you're watching a lot of relatively clean, standard-definition programming such as from a digital cable or satellite.
Essentially free of wackiness, the exterior of the Hanspree Xv is nonetheless relatively attractive, with the standard, glossy black frame set above a horizontal strip of matte black speakers. The stand is a pedestal design, so there's a stalk below the panel that suspends it a couple of inches above the base. Strips of glossy black on either side of the base complement the screen around the frame and help create a look that's a notch or two classier than many low-priced LCD TVs.
Including the removable pedestal stand, the dimensions of the Hannspree Xv are average for a 32-inch LCD: 31.8x25.4x8.3 inches, with a weight of 48 pounds.
Hannspree's remote is a solid design as well, with well-defined button groups arranged around a central cursor pad. We don't expect backlighting at this price, but people with smaller hands might have to stretch to access the buttons toward the top of the long wand. The Xv's basic-looking menu system gets the job done with little hassle, and we appreciate that the picture parameters drop to the bottom of the screen during adjustment. Our only complaint was that a few key picture controls, such as color temperature and backlight, are inexplicably listed in the Setup menu as opposed to the Picture menu.
Like most LCDs of any size, the Hannspree Xv has a screen containing 1,366x768 pixels, a native resolution that allows it to display every detail from 720p HDTV material. All sources--including HDTV, standard-definition television, and computers--are scaled to fit the pixels.
The Hannspree Xv includes the required ATSC digital tuner for grabbing over-the-air programming. The set's picture-in-picture feature allows you to watch two sources simultaneously, incorporates both inset and side-by-side modes, and works with computer and HDTV sources in most combinations. There's also a freeze mode and a picture zoom.
Aspect ratio control on the Hannspree Xv is nothing if not extensive. It has no fewer than eight choices with HDTV and standard-definition sources, including three zooms and a couple of modes that duplicate one another. Nonetheless, between its zoom modes and its many aspect ratio selections, the Hannspree Xv provides more ways to size the picture than just about any HDTV we've tested yet, regardless of price.
The Hannspree Xv is likewise no slouch when it comes to fine-tuning the picture. It offers four preset picture modes as well as a fifth User mode that's independent for each input. We also loved that the three color-temperature presets are complemented by a fourth User mode that allows independent control of red, green, and blue. We would have liked the backlight control to be continuous instead of a simple three-step design, but that's a minor gripe.
Slightly more important to some users will be the Hannspree Xv's input selection. This LCD has just one component-video input and one HDMI input, whereas many current models have two of each. We did appreciate the addition of a VGA-style PC input (1,360x768 recommended resolution) although the Hannspree's selection of standard A/V inputs is also sparse, with just one composite-video and one S-Video slot. An RF input rounds out the rear-panel jack pack, and there are no side-panel inputs
The Hannspree Xv won't win any awards for picture quality, but we found its image acceptably average given its price. We definitely give the overall nod to the Vizio 32-inch model, but the Hannspree isn't too far behind.
During our customary calibration phase, during which we adjusted the set for our darkened theater, we were impressed by the Hannspree's range of controls, and its individual sliders for red, green, and blue color-temperature tweaks were particularly welcome. That's because the Hanspree Xv's three color-temperature presets were extremely blue; even the Warm setting hovered around 9,000K (see the Geek box at the end of this review). After adjustment, we coaxed the color temperature much closer to the 6,500K norm, although it wasn't nearly as accurate as the Vizio V32L HDTV, for example. The grayscale reddened as it got darker, which became apparent in program material. Click here for our complete user-menu picture settings, or see Tips & Tricks above.
During the beginning of the King Kong HD DVD, we noticed that redness in dark areas pretty quickly. In the first shot of Naomi Watts in the dressing room backstage, her face was slightly dark, and on the Hannspree it appeared redder than on the other HDTVs in the room, which included the Vizio VX32L HDTV, the 37-inch Vizio VX37L HDTV, the 47-inch Vizio GV47LFHDTV, and our reference Pioneer Pro-FHD1 plasma TV. In brighter scenes, her skin tone and other colors looked much more natural, but overall the Hanspree's color accuracy was still below average.
We also paid close attention to the set's ability to produce a deep color of black, and in the Hannspree's case, its black level was somewhat brighter than that of the other LCDs we had on hand. Jack Black's first film screening, for example, evinced brighter shadows and letterbox bars than on the other sets. In its favor, the Hannspree did produce good shadow detail for an LCD; we could see more of the shadowed ship in the docks on its screen than we could on a couple of other LCDs.
The uniformity of the Hannspree's picture across the screen didn't suffer from any major problems, although if we looked hard at the letterbox bars above and below the image, especially in dark scenes, we could discern that the left side did appear slightly brighter than the rest of the picture.
The Hannspree also evinced more false contouring than any of the other displays in the room. During the intro, for example, as the shadow falls over the words "A WingNut Films Production," we saw distinct bands of color as opposed to the smooth gradation on other displays. The bands were the worst on the Hannspree, while the Vizios had a few of them (the 47-inch model most of all), while the reference Pioneer plasma TV was free of banding. We saw similar contours in the shadows during the scene where Black is watching the film.
We also took a look at how the Hannspree Xv handled standard-definition sources, and the results were surprisingly good. It smoothed out the jagged edges from the moving diagonal lines on the HQV test disc, and the waving American flag also looked very smooth. The Xv rendered every line of resolution from the disc, and details in a stone bridge, steps, and grass were likewise sharp. It also engaged 2:3 pull-down detection with admirable alacrity.
The only problem we had with the Hannspree's otherwise good standard-definition picture quality was the Xv's lack of a noise reduction (NR) control. The low-quality shots of skies, flowers, and sunsets from the HQV disc crawled with noise, whereas on models like the Vizio we could engage NR and remove a lot of the video "snow." If your standard-definition sources are relatively clean, such as digital cable and satellite, this shouldn't be a big problem, but nonetheless we think lack of NR is a noteworthy omission on a set that's likely going to be showing a lot of lower-quality sources.
Our brief look at computer sources delivered mostly good results. The set resolved every line of 1,360x768, according to DisplayMate, and text looked fine, if a tad softer than we've seen on some other displays. Overscan was not an issue at this resolution setting.
|Before color temp (20/80)||9070/9175K||Poor|
|After color temp||5691/7243K||Poor|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 2661K||Poor|
|After grayscale variation||+/- 421K||Poor|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.642/0.337||Good|
|Color of green||0.269/0.606||Average|
|Color of blue||0.145/0.076||Average|
|Black-level retention||All patterns stable||Good|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||Y||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|