With HD-ready TV prices hitting rock bottom, it was only a matter of time before Full HD TVs did the same. You can now find largescreen 1080p sets for well under a grand, and one of the leading protagonists in this price plummet is Evesham, whose £650 Alqemi VX set boasts the sort of spec sheet usually found on much pricier TVs.
Inevitably, the design isn’t too swanky, but the black frame and side-mounted speakers are far from offensive with a predictably slim profile.
The generous connections panel can house a wide array of HD and SD kit. There are two HDMI sockets, component video input and two Scarts, both of which accept RGB signals. These are joined by a subwoofer output for beefing up bass output.
Elsewhere, features are thin on the ground. There’s an onboard Freeview tuner with all the usual digital gubbins like text and a well designed 7-day EPG, and a picture-in-picture mode – but you won’t find any high-powered processing. The more ecologically minded will be pleased to learn that it consumes just 0.96W in standby.
Certain elements of the operating system are counter intuitive, such as the two similar-looking control dials on the remote and the double-function keys, but some are downright infuriating, like the tiny PC monitor style menus and having to toggle through every AV input to find the right one. But at least the set is responsive and digital channels change with minimum delay.
You can, with extensive twiddling of the settings, achieve decent picture quality, but the Alqemi VX exhibits some fundamental flaws that stop us hailing it as the bargain of the century.
Strong, realistic type
Starting with the positive, the set’s colour reproduction is strong and realistic. Flicking through the daytime Freeview schedules reveals a uniformly competent handling of bold, brash colours and skin tones.
Also impressive is the amount of detail packed into the picture. Running a 1080p signal from a Xbox 360 Elite console, the Alqemi’s pixel-mapping talent allows it to pick out every piece of fine detail from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, resulting in super-sharp images that will make an HD virgin’s jaw hit the floor.
So what are those flaws we mentioned? First up, noise levels are fairly high, particularly during Call of Duty 4’s darker scenes. There’s a noticeable amount of flickering and crawling, which compromises the overall clarity of the picture. It’s most visible on Freeview pictures where it combines with the block noise inherent in the broadcast, but hi-def images also show the same tell-tale signs.
The set’s colour banding and misty blacks are similarly disappointing, but if you weigh this up against the price, then they suddenly become a lot easier to swallow.
Sonically, the set is above average but not outstanding, struggling to generate the required oomph with fiery movie material. But if you’ve got any sense, you’ll delegate movie duties to a separate sound system and leave the set’s speakers to handle less demanding TV broadcasts – a job it performs admirably.
If you desperately want a Full HD set but your budget is too tight for a big brand name, then it might be worth tolerating the Alqemi’s shortcomings. But those looking for the last word in picture performance will have to look elsewhere.