Arguably even more surprising on such a budget TV is the depth of the AT4220’s black levels. Obviously dark areas bottom out into greyness sooner than many ‘normal price’ LCD TVs, but there’s certainly a greater sense of blackness than is common in the sub-£1k flat TV bracket.
Good black levels often help a TV produce winningly rich colours too, and so it proves here. The richness of the Hawaiian island of the Xbox 360’s Test Drive Unlimited looks impressively lush, bright and engaging, and there’s also a fair degree of subtlety when it comes to portraying colour blends and subtler hues.
The set’s colour, black level and sharpness talents are enough in themselves to justify £770 of anyone’s money – and then some. But inevitably anyone only willing to shell out such a small sum for such a large screen does have to accept a few picture compromises.
Not least among these is the fact that although reasonably black, dark parts of the picture also lack shadow detail, leaving them looking empty and over-dominant.
Skin tones can look slightly strange at times too, especially during dark scenes.
But by far the TV’s biggest fault is the extent to which its images deteriorate with anything but the highest quality standard definition sources – especially those from its own analogue-only tuner. The sharpness so apparent with HD almost completely disappears, colours become generally less natural looking, and moving objects start to smear very noticeably. Hardly ideal on a TV that’s likely due to its price to appeal most to people with little if any HD interest…
Sonically the Acer is much more consistent, combining a strikingly widespread soundstage with sufficient power and dynamic range to deliver smooth, rounded vocals, plenty of bass, and even some effective, harshness-free trebles.
The AT4220’s troubles with standard definition are definitely a problem on a TV likely to appeal most to a fairly unambitious (in AV terms) audience. But we suspect there will still be people out there seriously interested in being able to get a perfectly adequate HD display of a size they probably never dreamt their limited budget would stretch to.
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