Now at No. 2 in terms of flat panel sales (and beating out industry stalwart Sony for that slot), relative newcomer VIZIO’s combination of features, value and smart engineering obviously has captured the attention of many HDTV consumers.
The Vizio VO42LF is a 1080p, 42-inch LCD HDTV priced well under a grand, and while the set’s out-of-the-box settings produce a picture that fails to impress (as is almost always the case with just about all brands), adjusting to our recommended picture settings will have you looking at a pretty good picture in no time at all. And from a connectivity standpoint the VO42LF beats out some sets that cost many times its price.
Consider this HD Monitor if: you’re looking for a good performer with picture mode setting options that provide a quite accurate overall picture quality. The VIZIO also has a wide range of backlighting adjustability. At the brightest setting, it can overcome even the harshest daylight ambient conditions, a strength of LCD sets in general. At lower settings, it still provides a usefully bright picture, and you get better blacks and dark grays in the process.
Look elsewhere if: you want a 120Hz refresh rate—a feature his model doesn’t have. Our experience has been that the real-world differences between 60Hz and 120Hz sets are often subtle at best, despite what the results of side-by-side 60Hz vs. 120Hz demos with slowly panned static images might suggest.
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced LCD HDTVs):
A reasonable (but not terribly extensive) complement of picture and sound adjustments will let users dial in a good-looking picture. Extra frills, such as a picture/video/MP3 port connection, aren’t found with this model (no big loss, I say). One item that might be of concern is that there are only two picture size setting choices: the Wide mode is the pixel-for-pixel mode, while Zoom mode is designed to blow up a 2.35:1 widescreen movie to fill the screen vertically (but will lop off a substantial chunk of left and right side picture information). The set’s backlighting is quite strong, with a wide range of adjustment, which will aid in getting sufficient brightness in just about any ambient lighting condition.
With six HD inputs (four HDMI and two component), the Vizio is better equipped than some other LCD sets that cost substantially more. Two of the HDMI inputs and one of the component inputs are on a side-accessible jack panel, along with a composite A/V input. The side jack panel is recessed enough that even with permanent cable connections to those ports, cables shouldn’t be too apparent, keeping the clean look of the set, well, clean. There’s also a PC RGB input with full HD compatibility, and both optical digital audio and analog stereo outputs are a plus for connecting the set to an external audio system, which we always recommend.