HANNspree ST251 television

Firmly in the budget sector, HANNspree’s latest LCD TV is the only Full HD 1080p-compatible 25-inch TV around. Indeed, it’s the only 25-incher we’ve ever clapped eyes on, and at just £250, the ST251 could be something of a bargain if you’re after a small screen to pair with a Blu-ray player or games console.

The ST251 has all the essentials to make it a versatile set. Its 1920 x 1080 resolution makes it perfect for any flavour of high-def, while a brace of HDMI inputs means it can take a console and a Blu-ray player simultaneously. Meanwhile, those with an older Xbox 360 will be pleased to see a set of Component video inputs provided.

Its 300 cd/m2 brightness rating is low enough to cause concern, but HANNSpree’s own picture processing technology - X-Contrast and X-Celerate – could save the day.

The ST251 is reasonably good looking. A low profile set with underslung speakers below the usual gloss black chassis, it does sport a rather bright, backlit HANNSpree logo that’s perhaps a needless touch of vanity. Happily, if you dive into the menus there is an option to switch it off.

The digital tuner finds channels quickly and with impressive accuracy. As well as giving onscreen information on signal strength and quality for each individual channel, the ST251’s electronic programme guide gives a list of now/next programming over the next 7 hours. There’s also an option to inspect the next 7 days, though the information is crammed into a very small space and is difficult to read.

The picture menu is better, with options available for standard, vivid and soft as well as individual tweaks for brightness, sharpness, contrast and colour.

The trouble with Blu-ray pictures is that the ST251 just isn’t big enough. Despite its Full HD panel, it’s just not possible to appreciate the extra detail on show. Mind you, this isn’t the best quality LCD panel on the block. There’s an issue with picture noise, and contrast; the latter is certainly helped if you activate the X-Contrast feature (which dynamically changes black levels as you watch), but it’s not enough to help Blu-ray or games shine.

Gloomy scenes lack realism, largely because big areas of black – such as coats, silhouettes and shadows – lack any detail within. This proves the ST251’s major problem, especially for those wanting to watch movies, though it’s of less importance if you’re after a small digital TV for a second room. Pictures prove plenty bright enough and don’t suffer from too many artefacts – largely because they’re masked by the small screen size.

There’s also some blur and judder noticeable; you’ll find a cure for this problem, inherent on all LCD panels, only on relatively high-end sets. All this adds up to a picture that, while reasonably good for everyday Freeview and the occasional DVD, is very average.

Sound is reasonable, with two 10W speakers under the screen providing just enough for general fare. Although there are presets for music, speech and movies, the latter merely adds bass and muffles dialogue. It’s best avoided.

Verdict

On its side is the ST251’s small size, which makes its panel problems less noticeable than on bigger screens. And, with similar sized screens from the major brands also tending to lack top quality LCD panels and advanced picture processing, HANNspree has come up with a TV that’s certainly good value and is a step ahead of the supermarket cheapies.


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