As with most Vizio HDTVs we've tested, the GV52LF's picture quality was good enough for most people, but it certainly won't please discerning viewers. Its main issue is lack of the ability to produce deep blacks, and while its color performance was quite solid, we were also disappointed in its off-angle viewing characteristics.
We began as usual by adjusting the Vizio for our darkened lab, which meant reducing the light output to around 40 FTL for comfortable viewing. We also noticed a very faint humming sound when we reduced the backlight to zero; it became progressively quieter as we increased the backlight, and was nearly inaudible at 100. Nonetheless we set the backlight to zero to coax the best black levels possible out of the GV52LF, and tweaked brightness and contrast accordingly. We also took advantage of the red, green, and blue color temperature sliders, which improved grayscale accuracy in dark areas especially. The set's grayscale wasn't very linear, however, dipping into red in mid-dark areas and up toward blue in brighter ones--we really could have used six controls instead of three. For our complete adjustments, click here or check out the Tips & Tricks section above.
For this comparison we used a number of more-expensive 50-something HDTVs we had on-hand, including the Pioneer PDP-5080HD plasma (our reference for black level), the Pioneer PRO-FHD1 plasma (our color reference), and two 52-inch LCDs, namely the Toshiba 52LX177 and the Sharp LC-52D64U. We watched The Departed on HD DVD played from the Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD player at 1080i resolution.
The Vizio GV52LF's panel doesn't muster as deep of a shade of black as the 42-inch GV42LF, and its picture certainly looked lighter than as any of the other more-expensive comparison HDTVs. During the warehouse meeting with Jack Nicholson's crew, for example, the letterbox bars, the black of Leonardo DiCaprio's shirt, and the metal of an Uzi didn't look as dark as on the other displays, which robbed the scene of some impact in comparison. The Vizio also delivered fewer details in shadows; the folds of DiCaprio's jacket when he types on his hidden cell phone appeared indistinct compared with the other LCDs and especially the plasmas.
As we mentioned above, the Vizio's color in dark areas remained true, unlike the Sharp and Toshiba, but it still had a tendency to redden lighter, mid-dark areas. We saw evidence of this in the encounter between DiCaprio and his psychologist in her apartment, where their skin appeared a bit less natural compared with the more-accurate PRO-FHD1. In brightly-lit scenes on the Vizio, some areas like the white-washed walls of a driving range looked a bit too blue compared with the other displays. In both cases, however, the effect wasn't egregious especially for a budget LCD. Color decoding was quite accurate as were primary colors, but the Vizio's apparent saturation was worsened by its lighter blacks.
With the advent of 120Hz displays like the Toshiba 52LX177, the topic of LCD motion blur is worth addressing. We did see some blur when watching the scrolling white-on-black text of the ESPN ticker, where the letters on the Vizio appeared softer around the edges than on the other displays. Blurring was nearly impossible to detect in the fast-motion from Departed, however, such as when DiCaprio apprehended Matt Damon on the rooftop. We switched gears to a football game and looked for blurring in long sweeps of the camera over the field following a kickoff or in the names on jerseys when players moved quickly, and again it was difficult to discern. Although the GV52LF displays worse blurring on the ticker than we've seen on many other LCDs, we don't think it'll be an issue for all but the most sensitive viewers.
Of course one of the Vizio's biggest selling points is its 1080p native resolution, and indeed the set was capable of resolving every detail of 1080i and 1080p sources. Like most HDTVs we've tested, it was incapable of correctly deinterlacing 1080i film-based content, but it did pass the test for video-based content (see the geek box below). Details in Departed looked excellent, as expected from such a high-quality source material, although compared with the 50-inch, lower-resolution (1,366x768) Pioneer PDP-5080HD, the Vizio didn't look any sharper. In fact, with the Pioneer's higher contrast ratio, it often looked more detailed than the 1080p Vizio.
We also compared the two with a 1080p source, the ultra-sharp Corpse Bride played from the Samsung BD-P1200, and the results were similar--when sitting about five feet from the screen staring hard at a paused image, we were able to detect the slightest amount of extra detail in the texture of the one of the sleeves of Finis Everglot, for example. At a normal seating distance with full-motion images, fine details on the two sets looked basically the same. The main benefit of the Vizio compared with the Pioneer was the former's lack of scaling artifacts in certain areas, like the horizontal Venetian blinds behind Martin Sheen's desk, which evinced some unnatural moving lines on the Pioneer but none on the Vizio.
The GV52LF evinced relatively even screen uniformity for a big flat-panel LCD. With completely black screens and less-so with letterbox bars, we noted that the top edge and the top-left corner appeared slightly brighter than the rest. With test patterns that fill the screen with flat gray fields, we did see slightly uneven brightness across the screen, but it was quite difficult to spot in normal program material. When seen from off-angle, however, the picture on the Vizio suffered more than those of most LCDs we've tested. Dark areas became noticeably redder, and the entire image became a good deal more washed out. Viewers seated more than a seat to either side of dead-center could notice the dropoff in picture fidelity, especially in dark scenes.
The Vizio resolved all of the details of the DVD source, and the stone bridge looked fine as long as we kept the sharpness control at the default 4 or higher (that setting induced edge enhancement, but we preferred that look with standard-def to softer alternatives). On the other hand, the Vizio left jagged edges along moving diagonal lines and on the stripes and folds of a waving American flag. The set's noise reduction did a mediocre job of cleaning up the snowy video noise from the skies and sunsets on the HQV disc; even at the highest setting we saw significantly more noise than on the other sets in the room, although the Toshiba was about equal. We did appreciate the quick detection and implementation of 2:3 pulldown, however.
With PC sources, the Vizio produced very good results. We started by connecting a PC's DVI output to one of the GV52LF's HDMI inputs and setting our video card to match the display's 1920x1080 resolution. According to DisplayMate, the set resolved every detail of the signal, and text looked great with no overscan. When we connected our PC via VGA the results were less impressive. The set took the 1920x1080 signal well and displayed an image with no overscan, but the horizontal resolution was truncated significantly, to about half. As a result text looked a good deal softer than it should, although it was still legible. We had better results setting our PC to output at 1,366x768, where text looked a bit sharper. Of course, with the Vizio's four HDMI inputs you'll likely have an extra to use with a PC, so going VGA won't be necessary as long as your PC has a DVI output.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6339/6685K||Good|
|After color temp||6542/6792K||Average|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 227K||Good|
|After grayscale variation||+/- 297K||Average|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.641/0.341||Good|
|Color of green||0.280/0.615||Average|
|Color of blue||0.145/0.057||Good|
|Black-level retention||Al patterns stable||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Y||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Fail||Poor|
|Vizio GV52LF||Picture settings|
|Picture on (watts)||344.52||173.12||N/A|
|Picture on (watts/sq. inch)||0.3||0.15||N/A|
|Cost per year||$105.01||$52.96||N/A|
|Score (considering size)||Average|