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Hannspree's main business is producing monitors, but the company also pumps out some budget TVs every now and again. The 42-inch, 1080p SK42TMNB LCD TV is its latest offering. At just £350 or thereabouts, it seems like a bargain compared to tellies from big-name manufacturers. Is this actually the case, or has Hannspree compromised this TV's performance to keep the price down?
The SK42TMNB isn't the prettiest set to look at, but nor is it an ugly duckling. It measures a relatively podgy 85mm thick, and the bezel around the screen is quite thick, but the piano black finish doesn't look too bad and Hannspree has added a brushed-metal band across the bottom of the set to jazz the design up.
The budget nature of the TV becomes pretty apparent when you go to connect up your various AV gear. Most of today's 42-inch tellies now come with four HDMI ports, but this model only has two, which is very stingy for a TV of this size. There's just a single Scart socket as well, which sits alongside the component inputs and VGA port. Hannspree has, however, added a USB port, which the TV makes pretty good use of.
Connect up a hard drive to this port and you can play back a range of different formats, including JPEG pictures, MP3 music, and Xivd, DivX and MKV videos. The telly can't downmix AC3 audio, though, so, if your video files contain surround sound, the SK42TMNB will simply refuse to play them.
Along with media playback, the USB port also supports some PVR features. You can pause live TV, record the channel you're currently watching, or schedule a recording using the set's basic, but functional, electronic programme guide. As the recording feature simply grabs the raw digital TV stream and saves it to disc, the recording quality is just as good as the original signal.
The bad news is that the TV only has a standard-definition Freeview tuner, so it doesn't support high-definition broadcasts. Still, that might not be a problem if you get your TV via a third-party service, like Sky or Virgin Media.
The SK42TMNB also lacks Ethernet and Wi-Fi support, so you won't be able to access any online TV features. That's perhaps understandable given the low price of this model.
Built around a 1080p panel with a traditional CCFL backlight, the TV offers just a basic 50Hz refresh rate. The only real picture-processing feature is simple noise-reduction circuitry and, unfortunately, this shortage shows through in the overall picture quality. With standard-definition sources, the SK42TMNB is a pretty poor performer.
Freeview channels look very rough and ready. The set simply lacks the processing power to cleanly upscale standard-definition content to fill its panel's 1080p resolution. Colours in standard-def content also look quite weak and washed-out, and the TV's poor at handling motion, so camera pans look quite blurry.
The SK42TMNB is much better when dealing with HD material, however. Colours suddenly have more finesse and subtlety to them, and pictures tend to look quite crisp and sharp. On the downside, darker scenes reveal the fact that this TV isn't good at producing deep black levels, and motion blur is also evident in faster-paced HD scenes.
Usually, chunkier TVs produce better audio because there's more room inside the chassis to accommodate decent-sized speakers. That's not true in this case, unfortunately.
First of all, the SK42TMNB isn't very loud. We had to crank the volume way up past the half-way mark to get it to an acceptable listening level for every-day viewing. Also, the speakers have a tendency to muddy the dialogue slightly, although you can improve matters by pushing up the mid-range using the onboard five-band graphic equaliser.
The Hannspree SK42TMNB is seriously cheap for a 42-inch TV, but we'd think carefully before buying it. If you primarily watch Blu-ray movies or have a set-up that will let you watch hi-def TV, then this telly's poor standard-definition performance will be less of an issue, and you may get good value for money. But, if your viewing habits revolve around standard-def content, we'd advise you to look elsewhere.
Edited by Charles Kloet