Akai ABR - 100It seems that Akai has been the flavour of the year with us when it comes to the number of home entertainment products tested out. We have been reviewing several of their set-top boxes and other audio equipment and today we present you their latest Blu-ray player with USB. 

Precisely because we have reviewed AKAI units before we were pleased that this time the user interface was a whole lot faster and graphically more pleasing. We tested it out with our favourite nature documentary “Earth” from the BBC on a 42 inch Panasonic Viera. In our audience were a few people that had not seen a Blu-ray movie before and were astounded at the higher resolution a Blu-ray player presents.

At the current price point of less than $200, most everyone these days could afford a Blu-ray player. Remember the days when we had to pay about $3000 for these things to be at the cutting edge of technology? Generally, it is a lot better to let the market sort itself out with any new product, but then again, we are gadget lovers….
So these days we are looking for some extra features like interactivity. Also known as BD – Live. Some Blu-ray disks make use of BD-Live functions with additional memory. This can include things like ability to download new movie trailers, additional commentary by actors and directors or multi-player game and chat. Even if you have no use for this at the present time it ensures that your player is a bit more future proof than others. Of course firmware has to be upgradable: that’s where the USB port comes in handy on the Akai. This USB compatibility allows you to play back movies, music and pictures directly from your USB.
While we are talking about features here is a short list of the main ones:

•    HD Blu-Ray player with USB
•    Media Centre Playback – Play music, movie & picture files via USB, Blu-ray or DVD
•    Supports BD-Live interactive content
•    Supports PIP (Picture-in-a-Picture) mode
•    CD & DVD Compatible
•    LED display
•    1080P upscaling
•    5.1 support via HDMI, Coaxial or Optical
•    Parental lock
•    Remote control


•    Digital Video Playback: DVD-Video, Super VCD, VCD compatibility
•    Supported File Types: MP3, WMA, DIVX, MPEG4, AVI, XVID, JPG, PNG
•    Dolby DTS HD support
•    BD-Live interactive content via LAN(100)
•    Blu-ray Region Code: B (Europe, Greenland, French territories, Middle East, Africa, Australia and New Zealand)
•    DVD Region Code: 4
•    Java support
•    Connections: 1 x Ethernet Jack, 1 x HDMI out, 1 x Component Video out, 1 x Video out, 1 x Audio out, 1 x Optical out, 1 x Coaxial out, 1 x USB input
•    USB Format: FAT32
•    Power: AC 100 ~ 240V, 50/60Hz
•    Power Consumption: <25W
•    Brand: Akai
•    Model: ABR100
•    Colour: Black
•    Dimensions: (W) 43cm x (D) 23cm x (H) 6cm

Package Contents
•    1 x Akai Blu-Ray Player
•    1 x Remote
•    2 x AAA Batteries
•    1 x AV Cables
•    1 x Instruction Manual

Needless to say the Akai player also supports a wide range of Blu-ray and DVD disk types so it can fully replace any DVD player that you have. Couple that with 1080p upscaling and DTS HD digital audio and you are set for a whole new user experience!
This is not necessarily a top-of-the-line product but reasonably good value at $179 RRP. I would have expected a HDMI cable to be included with this model, just like it was with the set-top boxes from Akai. Whilst Akai has been around for some 80 years or so and well-known in Europe and Asia, the brand needs to lift its profile a bit more in Australia. The folks at Audion-mm.com are doing their best (that’s why they’re sending us so many of the Akai products) but availability in the shops may still be an issue. Also, we have been waiting for Akai to release their LED TVs in the country for quite sometime. When they do we will be one of the first to see if we can ditch one or more remote controls when we standardise on one brand only….