capsule review

Hannspree SV42LMUB LED HDTV

No one should expect the Hannspree SV42LMUB—currently sold only in Hannspree’s own stores—to be an exceptional HDTV. Its image-quality score of 77 puts it slightly below most other sets we’ve reviewed lately, it lacks networking and Internet capabilities, and it isn’t particularly easy to set up and use. On the other hand, its audio capabilities are surprisingly good for a TV in this price range.

When we started our image-quality tests with a clip from a baseball game, I thought the SV42LMUB was doing very well. Then the people and the camera started moving, and my estimation dropped. I wasn’t the only one: Four of the five judges complained about shimmering and other motion artifacts.

Static images also looked disappointing. In addition, four judges disliked the color or contrast in our Wheel of Fortune test. And several of us noted greenish tints and poor contrast in various tests.

The SV42LMUB displayed a serious overscan problem, too, significantly cutting off the edges of the image on all four sides. On Hannspree’s recommendation, we set the video mode to PC (even though our actual source was a PlayStation 3). That fixed the problem.

If you’re looking for a low-cost HDTV, you’re probably not planning to augment it with a high-quality surround-sound system. So it’s nice that the SV42LMUB has exceptionally good audio that surpasses the sound from many pricier televisions. With the volume turned all the way up, I noticed only a slight distortion in the high and low notes, and none in between. The simulated surround was good enough to produce a strong sense of presence. (Remember, though, that no television can truly re-create the effect of cinematic 5.1 surround.) It has a headphone jack, so it can also give you the listening-by-yourself-without-waking-the-family experience.

Unfortunately, it can’t give you the streaming-from-the-Web experience. This is the first HDTV I’ve reviewed in years that lacks both ethernet and Wi-Fi. You’ll have to plug in another Internet-capable device, such as a Blu-ray player or a PC, to enjoy Netflix Instant, YouTube, or any of the other entertainment options you can get from a networked HDTV.

But you can play media files from your computer—provided that you copy them to a flash drive and then plug it into the SV42LMUB’s USB port. You have to search through folders to find your files, and the only music format it plays is .mp3. The photo-slideshow options are limited, lacking both transitions and background music. (You can add music to a slideshow by going into Music Mode, starting a song, and then going into Photo Mode and starting a slideshow, but that’s neither easy nor explained on screen.) On the other hand, the SV42LMUB played all of the video formats I threw at it.

Hannspree didn’t make the SV42LMUB particularly easy to use. For instance, the on-screen menu stays up when you adjust the contrast or brightness, so it’s difficult to see how your changes affect the picture. (When you select these options on most HDTVs, the menu disappears and only a bar at the bottom remains on screen.) The first-time wizard and the main menu both lack on-screen explanations, leaving you to wonder, say, exactly what the Clock Mode is (it controls how you set the clock).

You won’t find a description of Clock Mode in the manual, either. The information that is present isn’t always easy to find, as the manual has no index and only one page of troubleshooting tips. You can download a PDF of a manual online—but as I write this, it appears to be the manual for an entirely different model.

The programmable remote control isn’t all that friendly, either. Only four buttons are backlit. The number pad is easy to reach, but the circle of arrow buttons is way too high and the volume and channel controls are a bit too low.

This Energy Star television burns 71 watts when in use, a very good result. When turned off, it uses about three-fifths of a watt, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s almost three-fifths of a watt more than most other HDTVs we’ve tested lately.

Macworld's buying advice

The Hannspree SV42LMUB is a low-cost 42-inch HDTV sold at a fair price—but it’s no bargain.

This story, "Hannspree SV42LMUB LED HDTV" was originally published by PCWorld.

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