Vizio P50HD review: Vizio P50HD

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Vizio P50HDM

(Part #: P50HDM)
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Relatively inexpensive; impressive black-level performance; video processing includes 2:3 pull-down decoding; accurate color decoding; two HDMI inputs.

The Bad False-contouring artifacts; noisy fan; lacks a CableCard.

The Bottom Line With commendable image quality and plenty of connections, the relatively inexpensive Vizio P50HDTV 50-inch plasma is the best value in its class.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0

Review summary

Editors' note: We have not reviewed this model, but according to Vizio, it is almost identical to the P50HDM . The only differences are that the P50HDTV includes an HDTV tuner and that it's slightly more expensive. Otherwise, the performance of the two models should be identical.

With a selling price of $2,000, the Vizio P50HDTV is one of the least expensive 50-inch HD plasmas we've reviewed to date. Having never heard of Vizio or its parent brand, V, Incorporated, you may rightly be wondering whether that price is too good to be true. In short, it isn't. The P50HDTV performed commendably in our tests, exhibiting deep blacks and accurate color. Its main weakness is a slight deficiency in the features department, as it lacks a CableCard slot. It still has ample inputs, however, and at the end of the day we believe most buyers care less about features than about image quality and style. While its picture isn't quite up to the standards of our current favorite, the Panasonic TH-50PHD7UY , its breakthrough price makes it the best value to date among 50-inch plasmas. Overall, the Vizio P50HDTV has a sleek and high-tech look. A thick, glossy-black border surrounds the screen; on the bottom, below the black border, are speakers finished in bright silver. We think the look and the perceived contrast ratio would both be improved by making the entire panel black.

One complaint we've heard about the P50HDTV has to do with fan noise. Our sample emitted a louder-than-normal whir from its back-mounted fans, which we found distracting under normal viewing conditions--particularly during quiet passages in movies. Vizio says it will provide onsite service to buyers who complain about the fan noise.

The company decided not to make the speakers detachable, so this 50-inch panel stands taller than most at 34 inches in height, although its 49-inch width is average. The company includes a foot-wide stand, and you can always choose to mount this 4-inch-thick panel on the wall.

The remote is oddly shaped, and all the buttons are black with white lettering. This color scheme makes it easy to distinguish different keys in a brightly lit room, but if you are trying to work in the dark, its lack of illuminated keys means you will need a good flashlight. The internal menu system is vertically oriented, well designed, and quite simple to navigate.

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