I owned three of these sets. Here's my opinion, FWIW:
I purchased the first one in November of 2003. It had a very good picture, kind of dark and lacking shadow detail, but very good non-the-less. No posterization, no banding (from 12 feet distance). I wondered what everyone was talking about when they said there were problems with the picture. For me it was a keeper and I could live with the few shortcomings I did see.
Then came the now famous coupon sale at Costco. You see I purchased my TV for $2999, and it was significantly less now, $500 less to be exact ($100 less + $400 coupon). So I called Costco and asked them about price matching. They said no, not after 30 days, but they would GLADLY refund my money and I could buy a new one, which I did.
The second one buzzed. It didn't buzz loudly, but it buzzed noticeably. I thought it over for a week and decided that even for $2499, I did not want a TV that buzzed, especially since I knew my first one did not. Back it went.
Being a glutton for punishment, I purchased a third AKAI. OH BOY! Now I knew what all of the bad picture posts were about. This one didn't buzz, but it looked horrid in low light to black scenes. It posterized like crazy! Needless to say it went back.
That was the end of my Costco AKAI experience. I was too embarrassed to try another one. I didn't want their entire stock of Akais to end up on a truck back to the manufacturer.
This story has a few lessons (in my opinion):
1. These AKAIs have little or no quality control applied at the plant.
2. In order to tweak something you have to have a good foundation (I had a decent, but not great, foundation with my first one).
3. The Costco return policy is REAL and it is EXCELLENT!
4. Greed, contrary to Mr. Gordon Gekko , is not always good. BUT HEY IT WAS 500 BUCKS! and I played by their rules and lost a decent TV in the end.
5. This set is NOT, despite information I have read on this forum, an EXACT copy of the Samsung, SOMETHING is missing.
In the end, I ended up with a Panny PWD6UY. Of course, that was after trying the Vizio P4 (also from Costco, it buzzed REALLY bad), and the new Zenith 42" ED (not a bad picture, but I felt it lacked shadow detail). I decided that there was a reason that the Panny had such a following here, and got such good reviews. I got it for about what I paid for the first AKAI. Of course I didn't get dual tuners, speakers or a stand. Also, it doesn't have as many inputs, but it does have one heck of a good picture.
If I were you I would closely evaluate my needs, and if I TRULY felt that picture quality was not an issue I would go for it. After all, you have read the threads, you know the downsides and you have an EXCELLENT return policy with Costco. I would not buy this from anyone but Costco. The risk of getting a bad one is too great.