Sagem Axium HD-D45

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Sagem Axium HD-D45

Pros

  • Heaps of inputs, Incredible design

Cons

  • Horrid screen material causes average picture quality, Severe rainbow effect.

Bottom Line

The HD-D45 had so much potential, all of which was wasted on an abominable headache enducing display.

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In our review of the Hitachi 37" 8800TA LCD television we talked about how disappointed we get when an attractive TV with a mountain of potential falls by the wayside due to a few unfortunate flaws. The Sagem HD-D45 is one such TV, a DLP rear projection with everything it needed to be great, only to be hamstrung by a poor choice of screen material and an atrociously under performing colour wheel.

From a design standpoint, this is an impeccable television set. It has a gorgeous black piano finish and comes with curved side mounted speakers. The speakers have to be attached manually when setting up the TV, which is a little arduous, but the result is well worth the time and effort. However, the black Piano finish is prone to fingerprints and Sagem are fully aware of this fact, providing two sets of cotton gloves for handling the panel. This is the only TV we have ever seen that comes with kit gloves and the sight of a pair of GoodGearGuide staffers in white gloves setting up this television was a comedy act in itself.

In the interest of fairness, the D45 does have some good points. It has a wide range of inputs including five S-video, five composite RCA, four audio RCA, a component, DVI and D-Sub connectors as well as SPDIF, headphones and a 3.5mm audio jack input. This set of inputs is extremely rare and caters to almost every connection you would need. Unfortunately, there is no HDMI connector but as its not a hugely popular high definition as yet, this oversight can be forgiven.

Apart from the sexy design and the bevy of inputs, the Sagem also has a fairly high quality sound system. The side speakers compliment the inbuilt bottom speaker and deliver clear sound, even at high volumes. The speakers cannot be faulted and worked flawlessly. The only complaint that can be aimed at the side speakers is that the wire that connects them to the unit hangs down past the edge of the panel which means that you can see it while watching the TV. This can be easily fixed with some tape, but it is still a poor design choice nonetheless.

We ran a series of tests on the HD-D45 to test image quality. Unfortunately, the results of these tests were hampered by the screen of the set - as the screen material is horrid and not transparent. As the image hits the screen from behind, the light is slightly refracted by the material. The effect is a kind of pearlescent haze to all images. Let's say you were to look at a completely white screen. On the D45, this white screen looks as though it is textured, rather than a block white. This texturing is evident at all times, on all images, and cannot be removed. It is a shame too, because from what we can tell the quality of the images coming from the DLP projector look to be of a reasonable quality, but the screen makes them look average at best.

Despite this major problem we conducted Display Mate Video Edition tests using the DVI input and the TV did fairly well. We had to ignore the texturing when thinking about these tests and think of them as tests of the internal projector, rather than the performance of the unit itself. The projector is reasonable whereas the unit is atrociously mediocre. For the most part, the Sagem passed the Display Mate tests, however, in gradient tests there was severe noise on the darker low registers and we found that in DVI mode the screen fails to properly display the PC resolution, even when the Panel is set to "Natif" mode, which we can only assume is French for "Native".

Component shared the same noisy blacks as the DVI but for the most part looked very good and would have scored highly if it weren't for the texturing issue. We also noticed that the brightness was not uniform, with more light in the middle and top of the screen with a noticeable drop off toward the bottom. Like the Sagem HD-D56B, there was also a strange visual aberration toward the bottom of the screen, caused by unwanted internal reflections.

Another glaring problem with the Axium is a very prominent brain-splitting rainbow effect and an odd visual flutter across the whole panel. Whether you are sensitive to rainbow effect or not, it is so excessive on this unit that you can't help but notice it. At the same time, there is a slight flicker that, while only slight, is still noticeable and looks like the image is in constant flux, even on still images.

At the 2005 Home Entertainment Expo we saw some DLP TVs from Samsung that made us fall in love with what DLP can do, so we were expecting something great from this TV. Instead, we walked away dismayed as this is a very average unit which is also rather expensive when compared to other similar models from LG and Samsung. It would be hard to honestly recommend the Axium HD-D45 to anyone, as the visual quality isn't up to scratch in any way, shape or form.

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