Bargain Hunter HDTV
September 17th, 2008 -- by David Birch-Jones
- Ambient Light Tolerance: The Vizio’s front screen features an effective glare filter layer, and even in a welllit room presented a suitably black image. With the variable backlighting function, which operates over a wide range, it’s easy to find just the right amount of image intensity for any ambient lighting situation.
- Viewing Angle: Very good performance in this regard, with almost no vertical shift artifacts, and only mild degradation even when way off axis horizontally.
- Audio: Unfortunately, the Vizio’s audio quality doesn’t even make it to the level of mediocre. Thin and hollow, with pronounced plastic cabinetinduced colorations, the set is a poster child for eschewing the crappy builtin speakers in favor of some sort of external audio setup, which the Vizio can handle with its optical digital output, as well as its analog stereo output that can be set to either fixed level or variable level.
The Vizio features no less than five HD inputs (3 HDMI, 2 component), which is a big advantage over competitive models. The overall picture quality is very good, and while I think it should have a 1:1 pixel mode, I wasn’t able to detect any obvious overscanning-related picture maladies (it’s not just me wishing for this feature either, as both THX and ISF require a 1:1 pixel mode option as part of their respective certification requirements for premium HDTV displays). The color analyzer showed that the set’s Warm color temperature came in quite close to the D65 ideal, and was commendably flat over the entire gray scale— a feat that some much more expensive sets can accomplish only after a full calibration. The audio quality is really the only disappointment here, but as the set has an attractive street price in the $550 range, I’d suggest that you put a few extra of those savings dollars towards some sort of external audio setup if you choose the Vizio.