I don't know if I'm going to write a proper review as such. I haven't owned a lot of different basses in my life, and so I don't have a good sense of what's out there for comparison. This is the first bass I've bought in over ten years, and for most of that time I only had one: the Tune TWB43 I describe here. Any references to "the other bass" will be to that.
This HB is at least a kilogram heavier than the other bass, though only slightly larger, which is mostly down to the wood, I think. It looked bigger in the hands of other players, especially Julia from Thomann, who says this is lighter than the MJ-4 J-style version. I'm 6 foot in socks with muscles, so I'm OK. Both are basically Sandberg-inspired, mine being a clone of the Californa VM4. I didn't really want the blue, and it looks like I'm not alone there, since the other two colours (cream and natural) are sold out for the next six weeks at least. But I can live with it and may consider refinishing it some day.
One disappointment: the pictures seem to indicate that the body is sloped to accommodate the picking arm more ergonomically: it is, it's barely cut down at all, so it's more of a slab. So I'm not totally happy when playing seated, but less bothered when standing. On a strap, there's a little neck dive: nothing that a decent strap can't handle. The bridge is solid and looks more complicated than it is: each bridgepiece has an optional locking screw to hold it down once you're done with adjustments. These arrived loose, presumably in case the player tries to raise the action and can't. Through-body stringing is standard but optional, and I believe the supplied strings are the specified D'Addarios.
I mentioned the neck already: modern C shape, satin finish on the back, and I don't think I'll need to touch the truss rod in the foreseeable future. If I did, it's an easily-accessible wheel method. I've been learning more about setup, starting with Fender's advice here, and the feeler gauges told me the relief was just under 0.35mm, which was spot on. However, the action at the bridge was way too high, about 4mm (double the recommended 2mm), and I struggled with that a bit. Today I lowered it to about 2mm, and am much happier. The bridgepieces are low but didn't bottom out - a problem I've had before. (On the other bass, I ended up sinking the whole bridge in to the body to get the range of adjustment I needed, as a project, rather than use shims. I have a little buzz low down that tells me the neck may be a little too straight now, but nothing requiring action yet.)
So I like the construction so far, I think I have a solid base for modding. Which is good, because they have skimped on the electronics. First of all, the pickups are decent, I think. The split-P is definitely powerful. The MM HB not so much, but it sounds good, if a bit anonymous. After adjusting that up and the P down, the balance is better. The P is now nearly 3mm below the strings, and I am not short of signal. I might replace the HB with one of these, but it doesn't seem urgent at this time, since it's adequate and the P is the priority.
The other bass is active, but with everything pegged it's still not as loud as this P pickup in passive mode. Which is where it will spend most of its time, since the electronics let it down badly. I thought the electronics in the other bass were average, which makes this new bass' below-average. The pickup balance pot only seems to "blend" around the centre: more than a few degrees either side and it might as well be a switch. The low EQ seems to add boom, the high EQ seems to add string noise, and both seem to be off-centre: not flat when centred. The 9V circuit seems to lack headroom, since there is audible distortion from the P when it's up full. (I thought it was 18V for some reason, but that was probably my mistake.) .
I don't have an amp - too antisocial - so I'm testing using two different headphone setups: a cheap-and-nasty Amplug clone - great for practising while walking around - and a tc electronic SpectraDrive, which has two TonePrint sections. On the SpectraComp side I like the Captain East preset so far - a great all-round compressor. On the TubeDrive side, when I use it, I try a few different TonePrints: Dark Horse for distortion, Natural Drive sometimes, most of the time that section is off. As other reviews have noted, the P-signal takes distortion well. The best tones I get so far are from the P in passive modem, which was my top priority, since my other bass is more Jazz-like if I want that.
I am already planning a total rewire to passive mode, 2V2T controls, maybe a HB coil split switch, and stereo out (Rick-O-Sound style, switchable). I would rather have no circuit than bad circuit, and the SpectraDrive has a 4-band EQ already.
Pro: solid construction, good bridge, string-through, zero fret. Good setup range. Very good passive P tone, not affected by lower action.
Con: the colour, electronics, the weight if you're weedy.
I'll add more updates / impressions over time.