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Cheap Vizio plasma gives great picture

The Vizio VP505XVT sells for just $1,499, but according to our tests, it delivers picture quality on par with some of the best plasmas available.

At $1500 list, the Vizio VP505XVT is one of the best values going among 50-inch plasma TVs. CNET

When we chose the Vizio VP505VXT as one of three finalists for Best in Show among HDTVs at CES 2008, it was due to three letters on the TV's spec sheet: HQV." That well-known video processing brand made the 50-inch plasma pretty compelling on paper.

Now that we've had a chance to review the VP505XVT, it's not HQV that floats our boat: it's this plasma's great overall price-to-performance ratio. At a list price of $1500, it's a great value, and we expect that price to fall a couple hundred on the sales floor at Costco. It will have to, because competing, name-brand 50-inch 1080p plasmas like the Panasonic TH-50PZ85U, the Samsung PN50A550 and the LG 50PG30 are also in the same price ballpark.

In our tests the Vizio delivered excellent black levels--as good as anything from Panasonic and better than the other two--and while it didn't have the color accuracy of the Samsungs, it was still pretty good in that category. HQV processing held its own, but we wouldn't consider it a major reason to buy this TV. The Vizio just gets the basics right, and that's what it's all about.

Read the full review of the Vizio VP50XVT.

Below you'll find the settings we found best for viewing the Vizio VP505XVT in a completely dark room via the HDMI input with a 1080p, film-based source. Your settings may vary depending on source, room conditions, and personal preference. Check out the Picture settings and calibration FAQ for more information.

Picture Mode: Movie
Brightness: 53
Contrast: 36
Color: 40
Tint: 0
Sharpness: -3

Color Temperature: Custom
Gain--Red: 240
Gain--Green: 254
Gain--Blue: 181
Offset--Red: 128
Offset--Green: 128
Offset--Blue: 129

Advanced Video menu:
NR-Temporal: Low [grayed out]
NR-MPEG: Low [grayed out]
Film Mode: Auto [grayed out]
CTI: Off
Flesh Tone: Off
Adaptive Luma: Off