Many a flat panel manufacturer frequently lures us with offers of screens high on style, but which turn out to be poorly equipped when it comes to actual capabilities.
Hanns-G, though, goes for a rather more realistic approach. Indeed, in its own press release it acknowledges that the new HL245 makes no fashion statements. And this certainly isn’t a screen that will resonate long in the memory of passers-by.
The nicest way to describe it would be ‘functional’. Less flattering terms would include ‘chunky’ and ‘blocky’, its styling less than beautifully curved. It is relatively slender (another beneficiary of LED technology), measuring 20mm at its slimmest point – a good 6mm fatter than the waif-like BenQ V920, but still 4mm better than the (itself relatively thin) BenQ G2222HDL.
The monitor stand is rather plain, offering a modicum of tilt but little else besides. DVI and standard analogue are included, but there is no HDMI.
Perhaps the essential point about the Hanns-G HL245 is that here is a model with a vast 23.6in screen, capable of a resolution of 1920x1080. And yet it costs a mere £136.
But this price tag isn’t without its compromises. The menu system seems relatively simple at first glance. And there’s a reason for that, it is simple. While most monitors regale us with long lists of settings, the Hanns-G HL245 keeps it strictly to the basics. So brightness and contrast are covered. You also get sharpness, and there’s a choice of colour modes too. But that’s about it, which does make it difficult to hit the right balance on this screen.
Neither is the control panel itself quite as logical and easy to operate as it might first seem. Despite having few advanced settings, we were still left frustrated during our travels through the menu system. This isn’t helped by the fact that the buttons were a little uncomfortable to press and unresponsive.
We might have been spoiled by the Star Trek-style combinations of lights and touch-controlled sensors that pass for control panels on many a screen nowadays, but the Hanns-G HL245’s system could certainly have been better executed.
So the Hanns-G HL245 doesn’t fare particularly well when it comes to looks, features or setup options. But does it succeed on image quality?
Well, yes, in some respects it does. For general PC use, it works fairly well, just as long as it’s set to the native 1920x1080 resolution, it isn’t particularly effective at scaling down. You’ll definitely want to dim the brightness, as the glare is a little too much for most tasks – in practice, we felt the need to cut the brightness by almost half.
Viewing angles are slightly tricky, and you won’t want to be moving around too much. However, the Hanns-G HL245 is capable of clear and non-fuzzy text, and can certainly handle office applications and web surfing competently. The colour palette is also rich enough to show pictures in style. You won’t get the glorious shades and depth of more expensive screens, but for those putting money before quality, the HL245 is a more than adequate everyday flat panel.
We wouldn’t recommend it for watching movies either. This is a shame given its relatively large size, but even with brightness turned to full, and the X-Contrast feature activated (which supposedly increases the contrast ratio from 1000:1 to a credibility-defying 15,000,000:1), the screen wasn’t good at bringing out colour depth.
Gloomy sequences in Inception and The Dark Knight lacked detail, with most greyer shades blending into an amorphous black. Lighter scenes, on the other hand, often felt a little too bright and shrill.
Overall, films needed far more bite. Gaming was better, with the 5ms response time proving up to the demands of fast-moving arcade titles, although again darker titles perhaps lacked subtlety of colour.
The Hanns-G isn’t quite a total success. It is certainly quite adequate for general PC use, where the need to distinguish between colours at the darker end of the spectrum isn’t perhaps a necessity. It didn’t really satisfy us for watching films, and we felt that a few more setup options would have given the user greater control over the settings, and would, therefore, have allowed them to find a more balanced image. However, the screen size is suitably large, and if you want a big-size flat panel for everyday Windows operation, and don’t care too much about looks or movies, the Hanns-G HL245 should prove itself worth the modest asking price.