HannsG is a relative newcomer to the monitor scene, having been developed as a branch of the larger Taiwanese electronics company Hannstar. Yet in the last six years, they have sold over one million monitors in the UK and have rapidly established a reputation for stylish, yet efficient displays - at the affordable end of the spectrum.
The latest off the production line - the HannsG HL272 - is a 27in LED whopper that is clearly designed to appeal to the gaming and movie-watching crowd, putting the emphasis squarely on response times and clarity of picture. Measuring 635 x 437mm, it is around 30mm in depth (219mm with the stand) and can be quite handily VESA wall mounted. This is thanks to the convenient four screws on the back, which supports its 4.5kg weight.
As with most standard HannsG monitors, the bezel surrounding the screen is thin, to maximise the amount of available viewing space and it is styled throughout in the usual glossy piano black. You will get the odd finger mark on the edges, but this is hardly likely to spoil your gameplay and is easy enough to keep clean. The only addition to the rectangular frame is the slim control panel, on the bottom right, which blends perfectly into the background.
The controls are the 'old style' underslung button-press type where you have to rely on fingertips and memory, as the icons are invisible in the dark - with just a tiny green bulb to indicate when the unit is powered on. In that respect, it would have been preferable to have had a touch-screen type panel with either a different colour palette, or some backlighting to help you find your way around. This would have inevitably meant a price hike.
Undoubtedly, this is the same reason HannsG has decided to go with the lowest common denominator when it comes to the stand. It is made of the same reflective black plastic as the bezel, and with an oval design that is attached to the monitor by one simple screw in the base. It feels a little unstable and fragile and can only be tilted from 5 to 15 degrees, with no option to alter the height or swivel. However, as it is an LED display, you do have the usual excellent horizontal and vertical viewing angles of 160 / 160 degrees. The latter of which means your mates will be able to crowd round the screen, and not miss any of the action.
A quick visit round the back of the unit reveals a practical array of connections for an entertainment monitor. These include VGA, DVI-D and HDMI 1.4 inputs so you can link to PCs, HDTV set-top boxes, games consoles and Blu-ray players - together with earphone and audio jacks. No room, though, for USB inputs or memory card slots. The chances are, you'll be feeding those via your PC anyway. In terms of what's included in the box: only VGA and audio cables are supplied, plus a user's manual (on disk) and a (booklet) Quick Start Guide.
Watch in Full HD
There are 2 x 2W speakers built in, but if you want to make the most of your movie and game soundtracks, you'll do far better to feed all audio through an external sound system, to achieve the full bass response. Also, if you're hoping for a proprietary webcam at the top of the display you'll be disappointed here - as HannsG obviously felt that this was another area where savings could be made.
The screen itself has an anti-glare coating, which makes for comfortable viewing and you can watch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) movies, via the HDMI input, in 16:9 widescreen resolution. HannsG has also developed their own X-Contrast technology that claims to deliver a 30,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. This is as opposed to a typical contrast ratio of 1000:1, plus it aims to offer exceptional detail and authentic colours.
Good for gamers
Certainly, the display is bright (at 300cd/m2) and there are four pre-sets that lower (PC, Eco) or increase (Movie, Game) the brightness and contrast levels, to suit the format - you have 16.7M display colours to play with. With a typical response time of 5ms and a maximum as fast as 2ms (GtG), we played fast action games like Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim and saw no signs of lag, ghosting or stutter. The colours in both these games also appeared rich and vivid. If you were a gamer wanting to make the most of a larger screen, but on a relatively limited budget, then the HL272 would be a good option.
We had similar results trying out Blu-ray movies via the HDMI input. We used The Dark Knight as a test movie, with its deep shadows and night scenes throughout, contrasting with some spectacular chase scenes, cityscapes and explosions. The HL272 produced solid blacks and praiseworthy differentiation between grey tones, again with no signs of streaking on the racing scenes and impressive panoramas on the cityscapes. Switching to online videos, scanning YouTube, Sky and BBC iPlayer clips and programmes - we were again pleased with the overall quality of the images.
As we mentioned earlier, there's an Eco setting in the OSD that enables you to save power, while you're watching and working. And, if looking after the environment is important to you, the HL272 comes with an Energy Star rating of 5.2. The main unique selling point of this unit will clearly be the price, as it is currently available from Misco for just £191.99. This compares very favourably with several of the leading competitors, most of whose 27in models start above £200. So, if you intend to spend a lot of time with a games console or catching up on your movie library and would like to be able to watch on a larger widescreen display, but are a bit strapped for cash, then it might be worth saving up for this efficient machine.
If you're on a relatively tight budget, but want to step up to a larger screen to play games and watch Full HD movies - then the HannsG HL272 should fit the bill, despite having a flimsy stand and a few missing 'essentials'.
Pros: Good picture quality, well suited to fast gaming, affordable.
Cons: Fragile stand, no Webcam, no USB input.
Price: £191.99 inc. VAT