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Vizio E470VL review: Vizio E470VL

Vizio E470VL

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David Katzmaier
David_Katzmaier.jpg

David Katzmaier

Editorial Director -- TVs and streaming

David has reviewed TVs, streaming services, streaming devices and home entertainment gear at CNET since 2002. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics."

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Like most TV makers, Vizio offers a wide variety of features at different price points. The E0VL series reviewed here lacks the Internet and LED backlight options of the company's flagship XVT3 series, but its spec sheet and price tag hold the real appeal--it's one of the least expensive TVs on the market with 120Hz processing. On the other hand the Vizio's downsides, namely lighter black levels and less-impressive performance when viewed from off-angle, give us some pause when comparing it with other non-LED-based 120Hz LCDs. But if you want this feature set and don't mind a couple of sacrifices, the Vizio E0VL makes a strong value-driven argument.

VIZIO E470VL - 47" LCD TV
5.6

Vizio E470VL

The Good

Inexpensive for a 120Hz LCD; excellent color in bright areas; video processing handles 1080p/24 correctly; matte screen works well in bright lighting; solid picture adjustment options.

The Bad

Reproduces relatively bright black levels; dark areas tinged blue; subpar off-angle viewing; benefits of 120Hz difficult to discern; fewer picture controls than some competitors; scarce analog inputs; ho-hum styling.

The Bottom Line

Among the least expensive 120Hz LCDs available, the Vizio E0VL series delivers a decent picture but falls a bit short of competitors.

Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 47-inch Vizio E470VL, but this review also applies to two other screen sizes in the series: the 42-inch E420VL and the 55-inch E550VL. All three sizes have identical specs and, according to the manufacturer, should provide very similar picture quality. There are also two smaller sizes in Vizio's E0VL series, the 32-inch E320VL and the 37-inch E370VL, to which this review does not apply.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Models in series (details)
Vizio E420VL 42 inches
Vizio E470VL (reviewed) 47 inches
Vizio E550VL 55 inches

Design


An angled bezel helps the E0VL stand out, but it won't win any design awards. The non-removable "120Hz" badge doesn't help.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Design highlights
Panel depth 3.66 inches Bezel width 1.8 inches
Single-plane face No Swivel stand No

The one distinction offered by the pedestrian-looking, black-on-black frame of the E0VL is the beveled bezel, which is glossy toward the screen and matte away from it such that it resembles a stylized picture frame. The bottom is perforated and wider than the top and sides, and the illumination behind the Vizio logo (orange when the TV's off, white when on) cannot be dimmed or turned off. Nor can the stand swivel. In all, the design of the E0VL blends in well enough to most decors, but is not up to the standards of LG, Samsung, or Sony.


Nope, that stand doesn't swivel.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Remote control and menus
Remote size (LxW) 7.75 x 2 inches Remote screen N/A
Total keys 47 Backlit keys 0
Other IR devices controlled 3 RF control of TV No
Shortcut menu No On-screen explanations Yes

From an ergonomic standpoint Vizio's clicker is middling at best. We liked the well-differentiated button groupings, but the main keys around the diamond-shaped cursor are too easy to confuse, the little-used "media" button too prominent, and the lack of a dedicated key to switch aspect ratio is annoying. We did appreciate the three direct-input-type keys (HDMI, AV, and TV), however. In addition to standard control-over-HDMI, the remote on the 47- and 55-inch members of the series (but not the 42-incher) can command up to three other devices via infrared.

The E0VL's menus have the same look as those of Vizio's step-up models, like the XVT3 series, and get the job done well. We especially liked the unusually detailed explanations for various adjustments and the prominent Help section, but we'd also like a shortcut menu to make certain functions, such as picture mode or dejudder control, easier to access.


The menus easy to navigate and their explanations are better than usual.

Features

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Key TV features "="">Other: Can play photos from attached USB thumb drives
Display technology LCD LED backlight N/A
3D compatible No 3D glasses included N/A
Screen finish Matte Refresh rate(s) 120Hz
Dejudder (smooth) processing Yes 1080p/24 compatible Yes
Internet connection No Wireless HDMI/AV connection No

The E0VL's main step-up feature is a 120Hz refresh rate, which enables both smooth dejudder processing and 1080p/24 playback (see Performance for details). The lone other notable extra is JPEG photo file playback via attached USB thumb (but not hard) drives. Some competing models offer video and music playback via USB, whereas others like the Samsung LNC630 also include DLNA network streaming.


The most obvious manifestation of 120Hz is its smoothing processing.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Picture settings
Adjustable picture modes 9 Independent memories per input No
Dejudder presets 3 Fine dejudder control No
Aspect ratio modes -- HD 4 Aspect ratio modes -- SD 4
Color temperature presets 4 Fine color temperature control 2 points
Gamma presets 0 Color management system No

Vizio's offering in this department is standard at this price level, aside from the extra picture modes, many named after sports. The baseball mode won't necessarily make baseball look better, but it is nice to have the extra adjustable slot if you're a serious picture tweaker. On the flipside none of the modes are independent per input, and a few other makers, namely LG and Samsung, offer more-extensive arrays of advanced controls.


Usually the "Warm" color temperature preset delivers the most accurate grayscale, but in Vizio's case the "Normal" does.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Other features "="">Other: Help section includes Guided Setup
Power saver mode No Ambient light sensor Yes
Picture-in-picture Yes On-screen user manual No

Vizio lacks that trendy "Eco" subsection in its menu, although power consumption is quite efficient without it (see below) and the company did add an ambient light sensor. Picture-in-picture is becoming rarer these days, so that's nice to see. Onscreen help is relatively minor, aside from the setup guide, and the paper manual and accompanying Quick Start Guide are, as usual for Vizio, clear and well written.


Yes, Vizio still offers picture-in-picture.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Connectivity
HDMI inputs 2 back, 1 side Component video inputs 1 back
Composite video input(s) 1 back S-video input(s) 0
VGA-style PC input(s) 1 RF input(s) 1
AV output(s) 1 audio Digital audio output 1 optical
USB port 1 side Ethernet (LAN) port No

While Vizio's higher-end HDTVs have an abundance of inputs, the E0VL models do not. The complement of HDMI is adequate at three total, but some buyers might chafe at just one component and one composite-video input. The side panel also lacks the traditional analog input.


Two HDMI and one component-video comprise the E0VL's entire back panel HD input selection.


The Vizio's side panel merits just a third HDMI along with a USB port for photos.

Performance
The overall picture quality of Vizio's E0VL series competes well against the similarly featured Sony and Samsung models we tested, although we'd rate it a notch below those on account of its less-impressive black levels and off-angle performance. Color in bright areas was a strong suit, however, and there were no major issues with video processing or uniformity; the latter proved better than typical edge-lit LCDs, in fact.

TV settings: Vizio E470VL

The initial settings of the Movie mode came closest to our ideal for critical viewing, with a linear if slightly reddish grayscale and dim (26 ftl) light output. Gamma was a disappointing and entirely too-dark 2.7, perhaps due to some combination of the Active Luma and Dynamic Backlight controls, which were engaged by default. We turned both off for our calibration, naturally, and ended up with an excellent linear grayscale (aside from the standard blue skew in dark areas) and also very good gamma (2.19 average, versus our 2.2 target).

The bulk of our image quality tests were conducted with the help of "The Blind Side" and the lineup below.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Comparison models (details)
Samsung LN46C630 46-inch LCD
Sony KDL-46EX500 46-inch LCD
Panasonic TC-P46S2 46-inch plasma
Samsung UN46C6500 46-inch edge-lit LED
Sony KDL-46EX700 46-inch edge-lit LED
Pioneer PRO-111FD (reference) 50-inch plasma

Black level: Among the TVs in our lineup the Vizio E0VL series reproduced the lightest shade of black, appearing a bit brighter than the Sony EX700 in most scenes and noticeably brighter than the others. One example came in Chapter 5 when the family picks up Michael walking home at night; the night sky above the house, the deepest shadows in his hair, and the silhouette of the black BMW all looked brighter and less realistic than on the other sets.

Aside from the brighter blacks, which made shadowy areas less impactful in general, shadows were relatively well-detailed on the Vizio. It didn't obscure areas like the edge of the roof or the shaded bush as much as the Samsung C630, nor did details look overly bright, as they did on the Panasonic S2 and the EX700.

Color accuracy: The E0VL performed very well in this category, as did the Sony and Samsung non-LED-based LCDs, but we give Vizio the slight edge overall between the three in bright areas. To its advantage, skin tones, like the face of Leigh Anne as she fluffs Michael's pillow in the living room, looked the closest to our reference, with a degree of warmth that was missing to some extent on the Sony EX500 and Samsung C630. It also lacked the golden overtones and greenish tint of the S2. Primary colors, like the green of the football field in Chapter 12, were spot-on and well saturated, although overall saturation did suffer a bit with the Vizio's lighter blacks.

Speaking of blacks, the E0VL showed the bluish tinge in dark areas we've come to expect from LCDs, and it was significantly more obvious than on the Samsung C630 and Sony EX500, but not as bad as on the EX700.

Video processing: The E0VL series performed fairly well in this category. Vizio equips the TV with a pair of controls related to dejudder, which it calls Smooth Motion Effect--with Low, Medium, and High settings--and Real Cinema Mode, with settings entitled Precision and Smooth. As with most such processing, we prefer to leave it off for film-based movies, which smoothing can make look too much like video. The Low setting, when we did engage the control, produced the fewest artifacts and least-objectionable effect and even preserved some judder, similar to Standard on the Sony EX500, but smoother. Higher settings piled on the processing. As with previous Vizios, we couldn't see much difference between either of the Real Cinema Mode settings.

Our motion resolutionmotion resolution test revealed that, in terms of reducing blurring, the 120Hz E0VL performed about as well as the 240Hz Vixio XVT3 series and as well as the Samsungs in our comparison, beating the Sony EX500 by a hair. It maxed out at between 600 and 700 lines in any setting with dejudder engaged (and the standard 300-400 with it turned off). Real Cinema had no effect on these numbers, and as usual we weren't able to tell the difference in motion resolution with real program material, as opposed to test patterns.

The E0VL handled 1080p/24 material well. Disabling dejudder processing caused it to implement proper film cadence during the helicopter flyover from "I Am Legend," with no smoothing and regular motion free of the slight hitch seen on some TVs.

Uniformity: Overall the Vizio was a bit better than the edge-lit LED models at maintaining a consistent image across the screen, but it fell short of the non-LED LCDs from Sony and Samsung. In bright fields the edges appeared a bit brighter than the middle, and we saw some vertical banding in test patterns, but both were quite difficult to spot in normal program material. There were no obvious bright corners or other spotting on our review sample.

Off-angle performance was relatively poor. As with past Vizios the E0VL lost black-level fidelity more quickly than competing models, and suffered from more-noticeable color shift, especially in darker areas. By way of comparison, the Panasonic S2 plasma was essentially perfect in both off-angle performance and screen uniformity.

Bright lighting: The E0VL has a matte screen, which 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, than they did on the glossy UNC6500, for example. The E0VL also trounced the lowly Panasonic S2 at maintaining black-level fidelity under the lights. Overall it turned in the same very good performance as the similarly matte EX700, Samsung LNC650 and Sony EX500 in this category.

Standard-definition: The set did somewhat below average on our standard-def tests, delivering the full resolution of DVD but looking a tad soft on the detail shot of the grass and stone bridge. Jaggies on moving diagonal lines were more prevalent than on either the Sony or Samsung LCDs, and while a bit less obvious than on the Panasonic plasma, they still plagued the shot of a waving American flag, for example. Noise reduction did function well to clean up the low-quality shots of skies and sunsets, however, the set engaged film mode, detecting 2:3 pull-down, properly.

PC: The Vizio aced our PC tests, as we expect an LCD TV to do. It delivered every line of 1,020x1,080-pixel resolution via both VGA and HDMI, with sharp text and minimal edge enhancement.

TEST RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 6353/6411 Good
After color temp 6561/6508 Good
Before grayscale variation 98 Good
After grayscale variation 49 Good
Color of red (x/y) 0.634/0.332 Good
Color of green 0.29/0.602 Good
Color of blue 0.147/0.061 Good
Overscan 0.0% Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Y Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Pass Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Pass Good

Power consumption: Though not quite at the same level of efficiency as the Samsung and Sony non-LED-based LCDs, the Vizio is still no power hog. That high default number in the Geek Box is mostly due to a relatively bright Standard setting; the playing field is much more even once the three are calibrated for equal light output.

Juice box
Vizio E470VL Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power Save
Picture on (watts) 174.96 106.84 N/A
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.19 0.11 N/A
Standby (watts) 0.32 0.32 N/A
Cost per year $38.61 $23.67 N/A
Score (considering size) Good
Score (overall) Average

Annual energy cost after calibration

How we test TVs

VIZIO E470VL - 47" LCD TV
5.6

Vizio E470VL

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 5