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Vizio's E series review: Unbeatable picture quality for the money: First Look

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First Look: Vizio's E series review: Unbeatable picture quality for the money

2:48 /

There may be better TVs released this year, and there may be a cheaper ones too, but we'd be flabbergasted if any TV ended up being better than this one and costing less.

Hi, I'm David Katzmaier from Cnet, and next to me is a 55 inch member of Vizio's E series. There's a lot of different size in Vizio's E series, from 24 inches all the way up to 70. This review will apply to the 39 to 70 inch sizes, those are the ones that have Vizio's local dimming feature. I'll get to that in a little bit, but first a quick look at the E series styling. Around the edge here you can see a really thin bevel, very minimalist look. The TV sits nice and low atop the stand, the stand does not swivel. But all told, it's a relatively generic but also unassuming look that'll pretty much fit into any decor. From the side you can see this set is a little bit thicker than some of the edge lit LED models out there, because it has a direct LED back light instead. So, it's a little thick and the speakers do face backwards, so the sound isn't that great but again it's fine for a flat panel TV in terms of styling. Not a big fan of Vizio's remote. It's the same as it's been since 2011. Buttons are really closely spaced. There is no backlighting, and all told it was difficult to navigate. The menus have improved, however, this year. Vizio did integrate the same menus found in its step up models from last year into this inexpensive E series. The set also has the new smart TV system from last year. It's a really simple design. Along the bottom of the screen you get a bunch of icons that you can scroll around. You can also take away and add icons. Of course the icons will lead to different apps including Netflix, Hulu Plus, a few audio apps. The selection of apps is very good, although you don't get HBO Go. Of course that's an exclusive to Samsung this year. One exclusive video has is a Rhapsody app. As a subscriber you might appreciate having the audio come out of the TV for that. Couple other things worth mentioning the TV, this inexpensive, you get built-in WiFi, and the set can also use DLNA to reach out and stream files from your local network. Around back is a single USB port for streaming local media, as well as a number of HDMI inputs that vary with the size of the TV. The larger TVs get more and the smaller TVs get as little as two. On the other side, you also get a component video input, composite video and an internet jack. Moving on to the picture quality, that's where the E series really shines. For such an inexpensive TV, this set has a phenomenal picture quality. That's a lot to do with the local dimming on the TV, which allows the LEDs to dim individually, depending on whether the content itself is bright or dark. So the end result is excellent contrast and local dimming simply isn't found at this price level. The set also has pretty accurate color and decent video processing, as well as a nice matte screen for bright rooms. Another one for the direct LED scheme is excellent uniformity. So I didn't notice too many bright splotches on this TV as we've seen on some other Edgewood LEDs. All told the picture quality is excellent on the Vizio E series, combine that with it's affordable price, it's one of the most recommendable TVs so far in 2014. That's a quick look at the Vizio E series again the 39 inch and larger models, I am David Katzmaier for Cnet.

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