What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Wed, 23 Sep 2009, 12:00pm

Hannspree ST281

Tested at £276
40100
2

Cheap, but you can do much, much better if you're prepared to pay a bit extra

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For

  • Watchable Freeview picture
  • neat remote control

Against

  • Noisy picture
  • lack of detail, clarity and sharpness with standard and high-definition sources
  • poor black levels
  • odd colour balance

We don't wish to be mean, but if the HANNspree ST281 was a person it would be described as a bit of an oddball.

Why? Well, the 28in screen and 16:10 aspect ratio are unusual – at this price manufacturers tend to stick to the 26in, 16:9 variety. Next there's the resolution. The HANNspree is labelled Full HD, but instead of 1920 x 1080, this set is packing 1920 x 1200 pixels.

DVD and Blu-ray images fed into the two HDMI inputs are poor by prevailing standards. The turbulent picture lacks clarity and detail. The TV doesn't work hard enough to keep edges solid, movement smooth or colours natural.

Grubby skintones, black not dark enough
The colour palette is also off-balance. Throughout The Fast And The Furious, Vin Diesel's skin looks a grubby shade of orange. Whites appear overly bright and although there's decent insight during dark scenes, this comes at the expense of black depth.

The ST281 is also hampered by inadequate audio, with the car movie sounding either tinny and insubstantial, or boxy and flat.

Switch to Freeview and things improve. Definition is reasonable and, at times, the picture looks more composed than when watching a Blu-ray disc.

The remote also deserves credit for its soft-feel buttons and neat layout, but otherwise this is a hard TV to recommend – even considering that price-tag.

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