If you want the most features for your TV buck, look no further than Vizio's E3D0VX series. It's the least expensive 1080p 3D TV on the market--yeah, entry-level 720p 3D plasmas from Samsung and LG cost less but don't include active glasses, while Sony's PlayStation TV is just 24 inches. The Vizio also sports a well-equipped Internet package, complete with content galore, built-in Wi-Fi and, yes, a remote equipped with a QWERTY keyboard on the flip side. About the only thing missing is an LED backlight.
The downside is that the Vizio's disappointing 2D picture can't match that of many basic-featured competitors that cost less. If you can overlook that significant flaw and actually want 3D, you'll find Vizio's E3D0VX plenty appealing.
Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 42-inch Vizio E3D420VX, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
|Vizio E3D320VX||32 inches|
|Vizio E3D420VX (reviewed)||42 inches|
|Vizio E3D470VX||47 inches|
|Panel depth||3.4 inches||Bezel width||1.75 inches|
|Single-plane face||No||Swivel stand||No|
The chunky Vizio E3D0VX series won't win any beauty contests. It follows the company's familiar aesthetic of the last year or two: a glossy black frame with a thick perforated speaker grille along the bottom. There's a strange dimple in the middle of the grille, which at first glance seemed like a dent caused by damage during shipping.
|Remote size (LxW)||6.25 x 2.1 inches||QWERTY keyboard||Yes|
|Illuminated keys||No||IR device control||No|
|Menu item explanations||Yes||Onscreen manual||No|
The remote and menus E3D0VX series are very good and surpass in many ways the efforts of more well-known brands, especially at this price.
We were excited (in the nerdiest possible fashion) when we saw that the backside of Vizio's remote had a QWERTY keyboard. It's better than the previous version found on models like the XVT3SV, with more responsive keys, an easier typing experience and no flimsy slide-up action. It's still not as good as the QWERTY clicker included on Samsung's expensive D8000 series, mainly because it doesn't have a backlight (making use impossible in the dark) and it works via infrared instead of Bluetooth--so you have to make sure to have line of sight between the Vizio remote and the TV. It's pretty darn good though, and obviously a much better value than the Samsung version.
The front side of the Vizio remote could be a lot better. It also lacks illumination, the menu/exit/guide/back keys are too small, there's not enough differentiation, and no direct button to switch aspect ratio. Its best feature is dedicated keys for Amazon Instant, Netflix and Vudu streaming services.
Vizio's menu system remains unchanged from the XVT3SV, and it's still very good. It resembles another app in appearance, and we liked that the picture settings section is actually integrated into the main App taskbar (see below). Responses were fast, explanations complete, and we had no problems finding our way around.
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||N/A|
|3D technology||Passive||3D glasses included||2 pair|
|Screen finish||Matte||Internet connection||Built-in wi-fi|
|Refresh rate(s)||120Hz||Dejudder (smooth) processing||Yes|
The Vizio E3D0VX series is the most fully loaded non-LED TV on the market. Its chief extra is the same kind of passive 3D found on LG's 2011 3D TVs--all of which are more expensive LED models that start at 47 inches. Check out our 3D TV Buying Guide for more on passive 3D and the Performance section of this review for details on the E3D0VX's implementation.
The E3D0VX includes two pairs of passive glasses instead of the four found on LG's TVs and more expensive Vizios. They don't match, either; one is the same curvy, glossy pair of spectacles included on those Vizios, while the other set is more generic-looking with flat lenses. The company sells additional (curvy) specs for $25 each on its Web site. Less expensive compatible circular polarized glasses are available from online merchants, and if you swipe a pair of passive 3D glasses from your local theater, they should work too.
We also appreciate that Vizio included built-in Wi-Fi, so you don't have to run a wire to the TV to take advantage of the Internet features. Unlike on earlier Vizios, Wi-Fi on this model worked well in our test environment.
|Amazon Instant||Yes||Hulu Plus||Yes|
Vizio's Internet services suite, known as VIA, is our fourth-favorite among 2011 contenders, outdoing Sony by a nose but falling short of Panasonic, LG and Samsung. Content selection is very good; none of the major services go missing with the exception of YouTube. As for audio Vizio is still the only maker to include Rhapsody--a boon for subscribers but a big "meh" for everybody else.
The top three contenders on that list all improved their user experiences this year but Vizio did not; sticking to the same Yahoo widgets-based system it used last year. The main gateway consists of a strip along the bottom of the screen that shows just four widgets at a time, so finding the one you want is a tedious scrolling chore if you any more than 10 or so installed. Vizio doesn't make finding new widgets any easier, with a "gallery" that's crowed with entirely too much chaff, including way too many "apps" devoted to local TV stations.
On the other hand, we appreciated that unlike other connected TVs it can run two Apps simultaneously, allowing you to Tweet or check Facebook (or even browse Amazon Prime) while watching Netflix, for example. Think of it as TV multitasking, or just think of streaming services as another TV channel.
|Adjustable picture modes||9||Fine dejudder control||No|
|Color temperature presets||4||Fine color temperature control||2 points|
|Gamma presets||0||Color management system||No|
The selection here is adequate but not up to LG or Samsung's standards. There's a ridiculous number of picture modes, and 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.
Most of the picture controls and all of the presets are also available when watching streaming video. Tweakers take note that the Ambient Light Sensor, which ships turned on by default, must be disabled before you can manually adjust the backlight setting.
|HDMI inputs||2 back, 1 side||Component video inputs||1 back|
|Composite video input(s)||1 back||VGA-style PC input(s)||1|
|USB port||1 side||Ethernet (LAN) port||Yes|
The Vizio features plenty of jacks for most setups, but better yet in our book is that composite, component and HDMI are clearly labeled "Good," "Better," and "Best" so novices can easily determine which connection to use.
In terms of 2D the picture quality of the Vizio is a dead ringer for that of the much less expensive LG LK450 series, characterized by poor black level performance and accurate color. That means that other entry-level TVs, like the Sony BX420 series and Samsung D550, provide superior 2D picture quality. In 3D the Vizio is an intriguing choice, with a couple of surprising advantages over LG's larger passive sets, but again its lighter blacks make it unsuitable for dim-room viewing.
Prior to calibration the Movie mode came closest to our ideal dim-room picture settings--but that's not saying much. Its color temperature in the Normal preset was too red, the picture was too dim, and gamma measured exceedingly dark--the latter two problems, we're guessing, a result of the TVs dynamic contrast and ambient light sensors being active by default. After disabling those and proceeding with our standard calibration we got good results. For our image quality tests we used the comparison lineup below and checked out "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1."
|Samsung LN40D550||40-inch LCD|
|LG 42LK450||42-inch LCD|
|Sony KDL-40BX420||40-inch LCD|
|Samsung LN46D630||46-inch LCD|
|Insignia NS-42E859A11||42-inch LED-based LCD|
|LG 47LV5500||46-inch LED-based LCD|
|Panasonic TC-P50ST30||50-inch plasma|
Black level: The Vizio tied with the LG LK450 for worst in our lineup at producing a deep shade of black. The difference was obvious between those two and the others in our dark room, and even visible in some scenes under bright ambient light. Dark areas, like the letterbox bars, deep shadows and recesses, or Voldemort's banquet hall (Chapter 2) showed the most obvious differences between those two and the rest of the lineup, making those dark areas appear washed out and much less impactful than the other TVs.
Details in shadows, such as the folds in Snape's robe (4:57) appeared neither obscured nor too blown-out, but again looked worse than the other displays because of those bright blacks.
Color accuracy: White its measurements aren't as razor-straight as the charts from LG's LK450, the color on the two TVs was remarkably similar--and generally excellent in terms of accuracy. In brighter areas like the faces of the good guys in Chapter 3 (12:15) skin tones, clothing and hair color looked more accurate than on the Samsung D550, the Insignia, the Panasonic and the Sony. On the other hand it lacked the punch and saturation of the D630 and colors in general were less rich and saturated than on the sets with better black levels.
Video processing: When fed a 1080p/24 source the E3D0VX failed to preserve the proper cadence, instead seeming to "catch" every second or so during the pan over the Intrepid from "I Am Legend." We disabled 1080p/24 on our Blu-ray player and the catch was replaced by the characteristic hitching stutter of 2:3 pull-down, an effect we preferred to the "catch." That's why we'd recommend disabling 1080p/24 on your Blu-ray player if you own this TV.
Uniformity: The screen of the E3D0VX didn't have any of the bright spots we saw on the Sony or the edge-lit LG and Insignia, maintaining its brightness and color well across its surface. From off-angle its blacks washed out quicker than any of the others, but on the flipside we didn't see as much discoloration as we did on the Samsungs, the Sony and the Insignia.
Bright lighting: The Vizio's matte screen serves it well in bright rooms where lights, windows and bright objects cause reflections. Such objects appeared dimmer and much less distinct, and thus less distracting, then they did on the Panasonic plasma, for example, and black levels were also preserved better. The rest of the sets in the lineup also have matte screens, and in general they all performed equally well in this category.
PC: Performance was excellent via VGA, with full resolution, no edge enhancement and excellent detail.
3D: For our 3D comparison we swapped out the majority of the TVs above (keeping only the Panasonic plasma) and added the Sony KDL-46EX720, the Samsung UN46D6400 and the LG 47LW5600. We watched "The Green Hornet" Blu-ray with all of the TVs set to their default Movie or Cinema modes.
In terms of the artifacts we've come to associate with passive 3D, we actually found the 42-inch Vizio E3D420VX better than the 47-inch LG 47LW5600. We suspect some of the difference has to do with the Vizio's smaller screen size, not because smaller screens make artifacts less visible but because there may be some difference in the way the two sizes' FPR renders 3D. As usual for our tests, we did our best to compensate for purely size-based differences by staggering the seating distance of the two--the Vizio was about 7.5 feet away and the LG about 8.5.
Even so, jagged edges along lines were less prevalent on the Vizio than the LG. When Britt got into the limo after the funeral, for example, the LG showed uneven edges along Chudnofsky's suit (13:38) and even more noticeably on the edge of the sunlit seat in the background behind Britt (13:47). On the Vizio the suit and bottom of the seat looked very slightly softer than the LG, but line structure was much less evident, even when we moved even closer to the screen to look for it. Again at 14:05, as the camera tilted slightly we saw the telltale crawling effect along the reflected light of the background window frame when watching the LG, but the same area looked softer and showed no crawl on Vizio.
In other places however we did see jagged edges on the passive Vizio that were not visible on the active 3D models, for example on the inward-facing windows of the publisher's office (14:49). Horizontal line structure was also evident in many places, particularly text and icons but also on flat fields of bright colors. Finally the Vizio's 3D image did look a bit softer overall than the LG and the active sets, but the difference wasn't that evident in most scenes.
As usual for passive the Vizio's image was brighter and showed less crosstalk--those annoying double images--than any of the active TVs in our lineup, including the Panasonic plasma.
As with 2D, the Vizio's biggest weakness in 3D was black level. Its lighter blacks washed out dark areas of the image and reduced contrast to a much greater extent than any of the other sets in our comparison. Some tweaking of picture settings might help (we don't currently calibrate for 3D in our tests) but there's no way the TV could get as dark as even the LG, let alone the active models.
Between the two kinds of glasses Vizio includes, the flat version fit much better over our regular glasses; the slicker, curved specs didn't fit well at all unless we took off our prescription glasses (maybe Vizio needs to include Croakies). The flat lenses should also reject glare and lead to a better overall 3D experience.
All told 3D on the Vizio was satisfying enough, especially for casual viewing in brighter rooms where its black level issues won't be nearly as apparent.
Power consumption: The Vizio is no power hog but it can't match the efficiency of Samsung's larger D630 model, for example.
|Black luminance (0%)||0.0372||Poor|
|Near-black x/y (5%)||0.2858/0.2945||Poor|
|Dark gray x/y (20%)||0.3128/0.3293||Good|
|Bright gray x/y (70%)||0.313/0.3305||Good|
|Before avg. color temp.||5918||Poor|
|After avg. color temp.||6429||Good|
|Red lum. error (de94_L)||1.2231||Good|
|Green lum. error (de94_L)||2.14||Average|
|Blue lum. error (de94_L)||1.2||Good|
|Cyan hue x/y||0.2174/0.3302||Good|
|Magenta hue x/y||0.3276/0.1594||Average|
|Yellow hue x/y||0.4207/0.5064||Good|
|1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)||Fail||Poor|
|1080i De-interlacing (film)||Pass||Good|
|Motion resolution (max)||300||Poor|
|Motion resolution (dejudder off)||600||Average|
|PC input resolution (VGA)||1920x1080||Good|
|Vizio E3D420VX||Picture settings|
|Picture on (watts)||112.21||82.589||N/A|
|Picture on (watts/sq. inch)||0.15||0.11||N/A|
|Cost per year||$24.80||$18.30||N/A|
|Score (considering size)||Good|