The Vizio E2VLE series may appeal to budget shoppers who just want Smart TV, but subpar picture quality hurts its chances against the tough competition.
The question posed by the Vizio E2VLE series comes down to priorities. If your priority is getting scads of streaming-video and -audio content delivered wirelessly to your TV as cheaply as possible without having to use an external box, it's worth a look. But if your priority is getting good picture quality for the money, look elsewhere. The Roku LT can supply those scads to any TV for as little as $50, and the TCL L40FHDF12A is one example of a budget TV with picture quality that matches this Vizio's. Many others perform better at the same price, so despite a lengthy features list, the E2VLE series is tough to recommend.
The chunky, pedestrian exterior of the E2VLE series hearkens back to TV designs of a few years ago, when frames and panels were thicker, black was glossier, and angles were sharper. Those angles on the frame seem intended to echo the "V" of the logo (which illuminates, and can be turned off), and the only other accent is a similarly angled badge proclaiming the presence of "120Hz Smooth Motion."
The Vizio has ample inputs for high-quality sources, namely three rear and a fourth side HDMI, one component-video, and one VGA-style PC input. There's just one analog video input, however, that uses the same jack as the component-video input. A pair of side-panel USB ports is also onhand.
Unlike Vizio's higher-end Smart TV remotes, the clicker that comes with the E2VLE models lacks a backside QWERTY keyboard. The front side could be a lot better. It lacks illumination, the menu/exit/guide/back keys are too small, there's not enough differentiation, and there's no direct button to switch aspect ratio. Its best feature is dedicated keys for Amazon Instant, Netflix, and Vudu streaming services.
Vizio's menu system remains unchanged from recent years, and it's still very good. It resembles another app in appearance, and we liked that the picture settings section is actually integrated into the main app taskbar. Responses were fast, explanations complete, and we had no problems finding our way around.
Vizio still calls its app suite VIA for "Vizio Internet Apps," although its Web site now uses the generic Smart TV. Its design, based on the original Yahoo Widgets, consists of a strip along the bottom of the screen. It shows just four widgets at a time, so finding the one you want is a tedious scrolling chore if you any more than 10 or so installed.
Content selection, however, is among the best available today. Since last year it has CinemaNow, YouTube and many others, leaving no major video services off the list (although sports apps like MLB.TV and NHL are still AWOL). There's also a Skype icon but clicking it seems inactive for now--clicking it simply exited the system. Vizio is still the only TV maker to support Rhapsody, and with Pandora, TuneIn Radio, and iHeartRadio, there's plenty of musical choice, too.
Vizio doesn't make finding new widgets any easier, with a "Yahoo Connected TV Store" that's crowded with entirely too much chaff, including way too many "apps" devoted to local TV stations. Overall the experience feels dated and definitely a step behind major competitors.
I don't expect world-beating images out of a budget TV, but the Vizio E42VLE doesn't even beat other budget models. It earned the same 5 in this category we recently gave to the incredibly inexpensive TCL L40FHDF12A. The TCL actually has better perceived contrast and black levels, but falls short in color accuracy, so overall it's a scoring wash between the two. In our book the addition of 120Hz doesn't mean much since the E2VLE doesn't handle 1080p/24 sources properly, but if you like smoothing -- which isn't available on the TCL -- then you may be swayed toward the Vizio's picture.
Read the full review of the Vizio E42VLE series.