Vizio LED-based LCD: Bangin' LCD picture for the buck

Sure it has a few flaws, but nothing fatal prevents the local dimming, LED-backlit Vizio VF551XVT exhibiting outstanding LCD picture quality for the buck.

Vizio's 55-inch, LED-backlit VF551XVT gives great black levels for less. Sarah Tew/CNET

We're willing to bet that when Vizio announced the VF551XVT back in January , plenty of savvy HDTV bargain hunters marked down "June" as the time they'd buy this 55-inch LED-based LCD . Then the company pushed its release back to September . Then it announced that the "Via" VF552XVT --basically the same as this model with one of the most compelling feature packages we've ever seen, including a Bluetooth remote and Wi-Fi connectivity to complement a robust suite of interactive services--would be shipping in November for the same price. Suddenly the much-anticipated VF551XVT seemed a bit less impressive.

For the price, however, this Vizio still delivers impressive picture quality to big-screen shoppers who can't wait for its successor or don't care about interactive doodads (and no, there's no way to upgrade a 551 to get Via functionality). Its black levels are among the deepest we've tested this year, and while the fluctuating backlight may give videophiles pause, it's not a deal-breaker. The VF551XVT also succeeds on most other performance fronts, although we can't say the same about its styling. Like all big-screen LCDs the Vizio's main competition comes from similar-size plasmas that cost even less and also offer impressive picture quality, but if you have your heart set on LCD, the Vizio VF551XVT is currently the over-50-inch bargain of the year.

Read the full review of the Vizio VF551XVT.

About the author

Section Editor David Katzmaier has reviewed TVs at CNET since 2002. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics."

 

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