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Vizio announces ultrawide 21:9 LED LCDs

Vizio has announced a pair of TVs with an ultra-wide aspect ratio of 21:9, as opposed to the standard 16:9.

Vizio's 21:9 TVs, going by the Cinema HDTV moniker, are visibly wider than normal. Vizio

LAS VEGAS--Today Vizio announced it would be shipping a pair of TVs shaped a bit wider than usual.

The new displays, sized at 50 and 58 inches, will be known as Cinema HDTV, and their LED-backlit LCD screens will have an aspect ratio of 21:9. That's visibly wider than the 16:9 shape used by nearly all other plasma and LCD TVs shipping today in the United States.

The advantage of the shape, according to Vizio, is that it allows the sets to "display 2.35:1 (CinemaScope) movies without any black bars." As the company points out, many big-budget Hollywood flicks are shown in CinemaScope, which means that standard 16:9 wide-screen HDTVs have to either zoon the image, cropping or distorting it, or show black bars above and below (more info). The new Vizios will have a 2,560x1,080 native resolution, compared to the 1,920x1,080 of standard TVs.

The wider aspect ratio also allows the TVs to display a full 16:9 wide-screen image while simultaneously showing a screen-worth of Vizio's Internet Apps.

The 50-inch model will use a full-array local dimming LED backlight and 240Hz refresh rate, while the larger 58-inch version will have an edge-lit backlight and 120Hz refresh rate.

Otherwise the sets are similar to Vizio's other 2011 XVT models like the XVT3D650SV, which features passive 3D compatibility and the non-Plus version of the company's Apps suite.

Pricing and availability were not announced.

Vizio XVT3D0CM series models:

  • Vizio XVT3D500CM: 50-inch
  • Vizio XVT3D580CM: 58-inch

Editor's take: It's a cool idea, and I'm always intrigued by something different, but when I asked Vizio's reps how the TVs handled CinemaScope Blu-rays I was disappointed by the answer. Since such movies are formatted to a 1,920x1,080 resolution, some of the 1080 lines actually consist of black bars. That means that the 21:9 TVs have to zoom the image to eliminate those bars, scaling the image and preventing the 1:1 pixel matching achieved by actual 1,920x1,080 HDTVs. Still, I'm curious to see the sets in action, and I doubt most viewers will notice the scaling. On the other hand, they might notice the need to zoom/stretch/crop (or deal with black bars to either side) when watching normal 16:9 movies, TV shows, and sporting events.