Vizio may be known as the bargain brand found at Costco, but AV enthusiasts might want to take Vizio's new series of plasmas more seriously. Vizio announced two new plasma displays, the 50-inch Vizio VP504F and the 60-inch Vizio VP605F, both of which have HQV processing built into the panel. For those that don't memorize every home theater acronym, HQV processing is a third-party video chip that, in our experience, delivers excellent video quality for scaling lower-resolution sources--like DVDs--to the native resolution of the panel. Usually HQV processing is included in receivers or high-def disc players, but the advantage of having the chip in an HDTV is that every incoming source is scaled using the HQV chip, instead of needing each individual source to have HQV processing.
The VP605F touts a 1080p (1920x1080) native resolution, while the smaller VP504F presumably features a 720p (1366x768) native resolution (for more information on 1080p vs. 720p--and whether 1080p is worth it--read this column). Both sets include four HDMI 1.3 inputs, two of which are positioned on the side of the panels. Vizio quotes several other specs, including a "10-bit diagonal interpolator" and "true 10-bit processing which outputs 4:4:4: color processing", but we'll wait until we actually review the sets to see if it makes a difference.
In typical Vizio style, the prices of these nicely featured sets are less than you might imagine. Both the VP504F and VIZIO VP605F are scheduled to be released in June 2008 with list prices of $1,699 and $2,899, respectively.