Akai is not exactly a familiar brand around our offices. Despite offering mid-range AV products for many years, we’ve never looked at an Akai TV before. However that has changed with the L842DDFD, which is Akai’s latest foray into the flat panel TV market. Featuring a native 1080p resolution and HDMI connectivity it appears to be targeted at entry-level buyers. Unfortunately the image quality is less than stellar and there are better value options out there.
The single biggest problem with the TV is the amount of noise in the images. The L842DDFD produces some of the noisiest images we’ve seen from a modern TV. It isn’t that there is more noise than on other units, but whenever there is noise it is extremely prominent, with very large individual grains that look more like static than the flickering we normally see.
The high level of noise is quite distracting and is also detrimental to overall clarity. While in our HD tests the image was still fairly detailed and looked pretty good all up, it was definitely softer than your average Full HD panel. That said, it will still be crisp enough for most viewers and from a reasonable distance it looks fine.
That pretty much sums up the TV’s performance. For undiscerning viewers who are a fairly long way away from the screen the L842DDFD will be just fine, but when stacked up against units from the better-known competitors it comes up lacking.
Black levels were another example of this. Blacks weren’t anywhere near as rich or deep as we’ve come to expect, which hampers movie watching and game playing. There was also some noticeable cloudiness on the end credits in both our HD and SD testing.
Thankfully, colour balance was pretty good. Everything looked bright and vibrant but not overly so, and while it isn’t the best we’ve seen in this regard it does the job fine.
One thing the TV will suffer for in many users’ eyes is the lack of a 100Hz mode. It does cost a little less than high-end models from other companies so we can forgive Akai for omitting it, but it does mean motion handling isn’t quite up to par. There was noticeable judder in some of our fast-paced HD test scenes. Fortunately, ghosting, while present, wasn’t too bad.
In our SD tests we saw many of the same things. Noise was again the big problem here, but there were also noticeable scaling artefacts which further affected the clarity. We were, however, pleased with the overall contrast performance; while blacks weren’t particularly black, there was good detail rendering in dark areas. Overall the SD performance was pretty much what we expected; all 1080p screens struggle with SD content to some degree.
We also ran our usual PC tests and connected up a laptop via HDMI. Despite having a native 1080p resolution we couldn’t get the desktop to fit comfortably on the screen. It either hung over the edges a little when at 1920x1080, or was too small at lower settings. This means users who are running media centres will probably want to steer clear.
The TV has two HDMI ports, which is okay but three or four has become the standard. Aside from these there is the usual smattering of RCA, component, S-Video and D-sub. It is a fairly stylish TV, with a glossy piano black bezel that will fit in nicely with most modern home entertainment setups. Included in the package is a HD tuner, which is pretty much expected these days with a 1080p screen.