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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Overview

Corner detail

Side view

Inputs

Remote (closed)

Remote (open)

Main Apps interface

TV multitasking

Rhapsody app

Pandora app

Facebook

eBay

Wiki app

TV settings

Basic picture settings

Advanced picture settings

Performance

A Vizio in your living room might not have impressed your snobby videophile friends in the past, but the company known for budget LCDs is doing its best to change that. The XVT3SV series, Vizio's third attempt at using a full array of local dimming LEDs to compete with the other brands' flagship LCDs, is in our book its most successful. The XVT3 stands among the best LCDs we've tested in the crucial areas of black level and color, and its matte screen--rare among high-end LEDs today--means superior bright-room performance compared with just about anything available. It's not perfect, especially when seen from off-angle with dark material, but for the price it's tough to complain. As for the rest of your living room visitors, they'll be impressed by the Apps, the remote, and the oodles of other features, although some might pooh-pooh the styling. If you're in the market for a high-end LED-based LCD, and you don't care about 3D, the Vizio XVT3SV series deserves a serious look.
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The all-black styling of the XVT3SV series won't turn many heads.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The XVT3's 3-inch depth is fatter than many LED models, but still plenty slim.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Between the back and side panels, the XVT3SV proffers a healthy five HDMI inputs, although analog jacks are more scarce.
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Vizio's chunky, stubby remote has an acceptable layout and big "Via" button for apps, but seems like nothing special at first glance.
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Sliding open the clicker reveals Vizio's secret weapon: a full QWERTY keyboard found on no other current TV remote. It makes typing passwords, search terms, and tweets much easier than the alternative (clumsy "virtual keyboards" navigated using standard TV remotes), although we do wish it was more responsive.
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Hitting the Via button brings up the Apps taskbar on top of whatever you're watching. The bar can take a few seconds to fully load at first, but it's entirely tolerable, and scrolling between Apps is quick and painless.
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You can activate the Apps menu while inside some other apps, allowing you to tweet or check Facebook while watching Netflix, for example. No other TV we've tested can do that.
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Access to the Rhapsody subscription music service is currently a Vizio Apps exclusive among TVs.
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Non-Rhapsody subscribers can enjoy the free Pandora music service.
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The Facebook widget from Yahoo is also onboard.
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Auction fiends will appreciate the eBay app.
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A new App can search Wikipedia.
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Unlike other TV makers, Vizio integrates the TV's control settings right into the Apps menu, so you don't have to juggle more than one menu system.
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The picture settings menu shares its look with that of the other Apps.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
A smattering of advanced controls are available on the Vizo XVT3, but not as many as on Samsung or LG, for example.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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