All of the applications, from Amazon VOD to Netflix to Yahoo Weather, can be found in the Widget Gallery, which conjures up a notification graphic when new apps are available. When downloaded they appear after a few seconds in the taskbar along the bottom of the screen. Load times were entirely tolerable, and navigation was snappy both within apps and between them on the bar itself, even when we filled it with apps.
Notable nonstreaming apps include eBay, Facebook, iMemories (a pay home movie upload and sharing service), a Wikipedia search, and three different weather services. A few questionable widgets are also available, such as an information service for the United Way of Greater St. Louis, and the local news, sports, and weather for Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Numerous games and the usual Yahoo Widgets suspects (reviewed separately here) round out the selection.
|Adjustable picture modes||9||Independent memories per input||Yes|
|Dejudder presets||3||Fine dejudder control||No|
|Aspect ratio modes -- HD||4||Aspect ratio modes -- SD||4|
|Color temperature presets||4||Fine color temperature control||2 point|
|Gamma presets||0||Color management system||No|
The selection here is fairly standard, aside from the ridiculous number of picture modes Vizio offers. All are adjustable per input, so viewers who like to create different settings for all kinds of material and sources will have a lot to like. We'd like to see gamma presets and especially the ability to adjust dejudder processing beyond the three presets, but neither is in the offing.
|Power saver mode||No||Ambient light sensor||Yes|
|Picture-in-picture||Yes||On-screen user manual||No|
|Other: Help section includes Guided Setup|
Vizio lacks that trendy "Eco" subsection in its menu, although power consumption is quite efficient without it (see below) and the company did add an ambient light sensor to the XVT3 series. Picture-in-picture is becoming rarer these days, so that's nice to see. Onscreen help consists mainly of step-by-step setup guides for the remote, network, and more, and though the paper manual and accompanying Quick Start Guide are, as usual for Vizio, clear and well-written, we'd love to see better onscreen help options within individual apps, too.
|HDMI inputs||4 back, 1 side||Component video inputs||1 back|
|Composite video input(s)||1 back||S-video input(s)||0|
|VGA-style PC input(s)||1 back||RF input(s)||1|
|AV output(s)||1 stereo audio||Digital audio output||1 optical|
|USB ports||3 side (inactive)||Ethernet (LAN) port||Yes|
The XVT3's five HDMI inputs trump the competition, for what it's worth. An additional component-video input would be nice, as would another composite connection on the side--and fans of S-Video will be sad to hear that Vizio has joined most other makers in ditching that input type. We wish the company would activate the three USB ports for media streaming, but that feature is still "coming soon" according to the company, so for now they're useless.
The image quality of the Vizio XVTSV series is excellent overall, comparing well against significantly more-expensive LED-based TVs and plasmas in crucial areas like black-level performance and color accuracy--the latter is a particular strength. Its main weaknesses are blooming and off-angle performance, and we also miss the ability to properly handle 1080p/24 sources. All told, however, the Vizio XVT3SV is one of the best-performing LCDs we've tested this year.
The initial Movie preset on the XVT3SV series delivered an extremely accurate grayscale, but was about twice as bright as we prefer for a dim room (it maxed out at 80 ftl) with a relatively bright gamma (averaging 1.8). For our calibration we reduced that light output to our preferred 40 and were able to achieve a much better gamma (2.3 versus our target of 2.2 average) while maintaining the excellent, linear grayscale. Perhaps a more-advanced 10-point system, found on LG and Samsung sets, could have allowed an even more accurate calibration, but that's a quibble given the superb results we achieved using the available controls.
For our principal image quality tests we fired up old favorite "Star Trek" on Blu-ray and set the XVT3 up against the following HDTVs.
|Comparison models (details)|
|Vizio VF552XVT||55-inch full-array local dimming LED|
|Sony XBR-52HX909||52-inch full-array local dimming LED|
|LG 47LH8500||47-inch full-array local dimming LED|
|Samsung UN55C8000||55-inch edge-lit local dimming LED|
|Samsung PN50C7000||50-inch plasma|
|Panasonic TC-P50VT25||50-inch plasma|
|Pioneer PRO-111FD (reference)||50-inch plasma|
Black level: As we expect from an LED TV with full-array local dimming, the XVT3 performed well in this department, surpassing the Vizio 2XVT and both of the Samsung models. Though it couldn't best the LG LH8500, the Sony HX909, or the Pioneer and Panasonic plasmas--all of which cost significantly more--in depth of black delivered, it's otherwise among the best we've tested.
Those deep blacks were mainly visible in darker scenes, as usual, such as the beginning of Chapter 4, which starts with a shot of a star field that darkens as a Romulan ship sweeps in front of the camera. They also lent plenty of punch to mixes scenes, like the shots of young Spock among the formulas in Chapter 2; they showed plenty of contrast without evincing the dimmer highlights we noticed on the Vizio 2XVT.
The one area where the XVT3 came up short compared with its predecessor, as well as to the C8000 and LH8500, was blooming, which appears as stray illumination in dark areas adjacent to bright ones. We noticed more blooming on the newer Vizio in areas like credits, graphics, and the icons of our PS3, where very bright objects appeared on dark backgrounds. The blooming was also significantly more-visible from off-angle.
On the other hand during most scenes in the film, including very dark and mixed scenes where it would show up best, no blooming was visible. Compared with the other local dimmers, the XVT3's blooming wasn't as apparent, or as blue-tinged, as on the HX909 (where the darker blacks also contribute the visibility of blooming). In the scene in Chapter 2 where the car drives across the field at night, the XVT3 also lacked the subtle flashing in the backlight we saw on the LH8500.
Shadow detail on the XVT3 was excellent. When the hostage Federation captain faces the Romulan captain in Chapter 1, the folds on the Romulan's sleeve and robe were well-detailed without being too bright and the fade along his cheek from bright to dark looked as accurate as on our reference and the VT25. Most of the other LED models, including the C8000 and the HX909, obscured these details slightly in comparison, a symptom of darker gamma in deep shadows.
Color accuracy: The XVT3 was among the best TVs in our lineup in this category, thanks to its linear grayscale and balanced color. The results were evident in skin tones, such as the faces of Kirk and Spock in the auditorium in Chapter 4, which appeared natural and well-balanced without the ruddiness or paleness we saw on some of the other LEDs. The red of the cadets' uniforms, the green of the grass in the quad, and the blue sky all looked accurate as well, and colors were saturated without looking garish.
One traditional color-related weakness of LED-based LCDs, namely too-blue black and near-black areas, was in evidence on the Vizio, but the blue didn't stray too much into shadows, and as a result was less prevalent than on some of the competitors. It still represents the XVT3's biggest problem in this category, however, especially compared with the plasmas.
Video processing: The XVT3 series performed almost the same as the 2XVT in this category. Vizio equips the TV with a pair of controls related to dejudder, which it calls Smooth Motion Effect--with Low, Medium, and High settings--and Real Cinema Mode--with settings called Precision and Smooth. As with most such processing, we prefer to leave it off for film-based movies, where smoothing can make it look too much like video. The Low setting, when we did engage the control, produced the fewest artifacts and least-objectionable effect and even preserved some judder (more so than on the 2XVT models, which is an improvement in our book), whereas higher settings piled on the processing. As with previous Vizio, we couldn't see much difference between either of the Real Cinema Mode settings on the XVT3.
Our motion resolution test pegged the XVT3 lower than other 240Hz models we've tested, maxing out at between 600 and 700 lines in any setting with dejudder engaged (and the standard 300-400 with it turned off). Real Cinema had no effect on these numbers, and as usual we weren't able to tell the difference in motion resolution with real program material, as opposed to test patterns.
The XVT3 did not properly handle 1080p/24 material in our testing. Disabling dejudder processing on a 240Hz TV should cause it to implement proper film cadence, but that didn't work in this case. Instead, during the helicopter flyover from "I Am Legend," the Vizio introduced the characteristic hitching pan of 2:3 pull-down. None of the other settings we tried could handle 1080p/24 correctly, either; they all introduced smoothing.
Uniformity: Blooming aside, the XVT3SV maintained brightness and color consistency across its screen better than any of the other LCDs in our lineup, and nearly as well as the plasmas. The banding we saw on the LH8500 and C8000 was nowhere to be found, and the edges of the screen were neither darker (as on the HX909) nor lighter (as on the C8000) than the middle.
From off-angle, however, the Vizio was among the worst in our lineup. Blooming intensified significantly, becoming a sort of blue cloud spreading from light into dark areas. Black-level performance fell off even more than on the other LEDs, although color shift was minimal.
Bright lighting: The XVT3 has the same screen as the 2XVT, and it also performed very well in this category. Its matte finish proved a big asset in well-lit environments, cutting down on reflections from light sources and bright objects more effectively than any of the other displays. It also preserved black levels better than the LG and the plasmas, albeit not quite as well as the Samsung or Sony LEDs.
Standard-definition: The set did relatively well on our standard-def tests, delivering the full resolution of DVD but looking a tad soft on the detail shot of the grass and stone bridge. Jaggies on moving diagonal lines and a waving American flag were kept to a happy minimum, and noise reduction functioned well to clean up the low-quality shots of skies and sunsets. The set engaged film mode, detecting 2:3 pull-down, properly.
PC: Via HDMI the XVT3 performed as well as any 1080p display should, resolving every line of a 1,920x1,080-pixel source with crisp details and no overscan. Via its VGA-style PC input, the image was acceptable but less perfect, with edge enhancement we couldn't completely remove without softening the image, and some subtle flashing in high-res areas.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6426/6409||Good|
|After color temp||6484/6511||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||26.9||Good|
|After grayscale variation||34.8||Good|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.644/0.331||Good|
|Color of green||0.303/0.605||Good|
|Color of blue||0.154/0.06||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Pass||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
Power consumption: We did not test the power consumption of this size in the Vizio XVT3SV series, but we did test the 55-inch model. For more information, refer to the review of the Vizio XVT553SV.