The lowly sum of £320 or thereabouts wouldn't normally be anywhere near enough to buy a 'Full HD' 1080p, 28-inch LCD TV, but Hannspree's XV HT09-28E1 seems to be the exception to the rule. Before there can be any whooping and punching of air, however, it seems wise to investigate if any corners have been cut to make such a deal possible.
Hannspree has previously wheeled out some of the most bizarre TV designs known to man. Thankfully, however, the HT09 actually has a fairly staid design, with a slender and no-frills glossy black bezel ensuring that it blends into your room, rather than dominating it like some kind of Tate Modern escapee.
Given how cheap the HT09 is, it's pleasing to find that the TV's connections include a respectable two HDMIs, and a D-Sub port for easy PC hook-up.
The TV continues to make a good impression with its operating system, which employs attractive on-screen menus that are so innovatively and effectively organised that they make the efforts of many more expensive rivals look clunky by comparison.
The on-screen menus even include a few interesting features, with adaptive contrast management, multi-level noise reduction, contrast balancing and colour transient improvements being among the more unusual options on offer.
There are some good things to say about the HT09's performance, too. Its 1080p resolution, for instance, helps it produce high-definition pictures that have noticeably greater sharpness than you get with the majority of other 28-inch LCD TVs.
The TV's standard-definition pictures are surprisingly free of noise. The HT09 is better at upscaling them to the screen's high resolution than we would have anticipated at this price point.
Colours are reasonably subtle in tone and blend. Together with the set's sharpness, this ensures that bright scenes look good.
Although the HT09's on-screen menus are good, the remote control is not -- it's plasticky and poorly laid out.
It's also disappointing to find that the set's connections include neither a CAM slot for adding subscription TV services to the basic Freeview digital terrestrial package, nor dedicated S-Video or composite video inputs.
There's something odd going on with the screen's native resolution, too. While Full HD TVs normally have 1,920x1,080 pixels, the HT09 has 1,920x1,200. While it might sound great to have more pixels, the HT09's resolution actually means its doesn't work out to the usual 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. This means you have to put up with black bars above and below even normal widescreen broadcasts if you want to retain their exact proportions.
When it comes to picture quality, the HT09's biggest flaw is its underwhelming black-level response. Dark scenes look fairly grey, especially if the picture has to combine bright and dark elements within the same frame. Also, whenever pictures contain significant amounts of motion, the screen also smears quite noticeably.
The final problem with the HT09's performance is its disappointing audio. There's laughably little bass on hand to underpin any kind of action scene, people's voices sound thin and nasal, and high trebles tend to sound harsh.
Although we love the idea of a 1080p, 28-inch LCD TV at this low price, the Hannspree XV HT09-28E1 left us slightly disappointed due to its inability to satisfactorily tackle some of the sound, contrast and motion problems commonly suffered by LCD TVs.
Edited by Charles Kloet