In the four short years since Vizio flat-panel TVs have been sold in the U.S., the company has risen to be ranked sixth or seventh in sales. This tremendous and rapid success is due to the high value offered by these TVs—in particular, surprisingly good picture quality for surprisingly little money. Vizio’s latest line of LCD TVs is dubbed Gallevia, which includes the 47-inch GV47L. I was eager to find out if this new 1080p set lives up to the company’s well-earned reputation.
The GV47L sports an elegant design with a gloss-black bezel and bottom-mounted silver-tone speakers that can be detached. A Vizio logo below the screen lights up and remains lit while the TV is on, which I found a bit distracting.
Like most large LCD TVs these days, this one has a native resolution of 1920x1080. However, you never get to see all 2 million+ pixels in a 1920x1080 signal because the TV crops more than 30 pixels from each side, 10 from the top, and 11 from the bottom. That might not seem like a lot, but it can cause another, more serious problem: a loss of sharpness and the appearance of white “ghost” lines along edges in the image. All of this could be avoided if the TV included a setting that mapped each incoming pixel to the corresponding pixel in the panel; unfortunately, it has no such setting.
One of the nicest features of all Vizio TVs is the company’s free 1-year, in-home warranty. In addition, for all LCD TVs 30 inches and larger, the company’s Zero Bright-Pixel Defect Guarantee replaces the entire TV if even one pixel is stuck on. Vizio also offers free lifetime technical support by e-mail or phone. Such dedication to customer service is rare and laudable in today’s consumer marketplace.
The remote is moderately sized and festooned with buttons, most of which are pretty small and undifferentiated. It’s a universal model, capable of controlling up to three devices other than the TV, and some of the buttons do multiple duty depending on the selected device. The backlight illuminates all the buttons, which is great, but it’s still hard to read the labels on the body of the remote. Normally, universal TV remotes provide a single button with which to select the input, and this one is no exception. However, it also provides separate buttons for each type of input (HDMI, component, etc.); for example, pressing the HDMI button toggles between HDMI 1 and 2. This is a nice compromise if there are no individual input-selection buttons. The menu is well-organized and easy to navigate. The basic picture controls drop to the bottom of the screen for adjustment and the rest of the menu disappears, as they should. However, the advanced picture controls.
The GV47L puts out a lot of light, as most LCD flat panels do, which means it will stand up to normal room light just fine. Also, its color and contrast (the difference between black and white) do not shift appreciably as you move off-center, meaning this TV has a wider viewing angle than most LCDs.
I was unable to completely eliminate the ghostly white lines along edges in the image, technically known as “ringing”or “edge enhancement.” Normally, turning the Sharpness control down fixes this problem, but the GV47L’s control behaved strangely—a value of 2 minimized the effect, but setting it at 1 or 0 made it worse! I suspect the ringing I saw was due to the lack of the pixel-mapping mode I mentioned earlier.
The white ghost lines were evident on the Star Trek: Insurrection DVD, especially around the letters in the opening credits. Otherwise, the image was not quite as sharp as I’ve seen on other TVs in recent experience, especially the opening title and the hay bales at the beginning, both of which looked a little soft. Much of the low-light detail in the observation post was lost in solid dark areas, and the black of space was fairly washed out. Bright sunlit scenes fared much better, looking quite realistic. Color was good, too, with natural skin tones, green foliage, and blue water. HD DVDs looked much better, with little sign of ringing. In Apollo 13, the instruments and control panels in the ship and Mission Control were crisp, and the observers in the launch audience were well-defined. Color was also very good, with realistic looking grass around the launch pad and natural skin tones. The darkness of space was still not a deep black. Ideally, you want the TV’s black letterbox bars to “disappear” but that didn’t happen here.
Vizio’s reputation for high value takes a bit of a hit with the GV47L. The blacks were not as deep as I like to see, and shadow detail was so-so at best. DVD images were not exemplary—slightly soft with some unavoidable white ghost lines. The sharpness and ringing were much better on HD DVD, and the color was generally good on both.
At $1900, this is among the least expensive 47-inch LCDs on the market, so any criticisms must be taken in that context. Even with the shortcomings I found, TV buyers on a budget would be well-advised to take a good look at the GV47L. TPV