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VIZIO VBR200W - Blu-ray disc player review: VIZIO VBR200W - Blu-ray disc player

VIZIO VBR200W - Blu-ray disc player

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Matthew Moskovciak
Matthew_Moskovciak.jpg

Matthew Moskovciak

Senior Associate Editor / Reviews - Home theater

Covering home audio and video, Matthew Moskovciak helps CNET readers find the best sights and sounds for their home theaters. E-mail Matthew or follow him on Twitter @cnetmoskovciak.

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6 min read

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OVR
6.8

VIZIO VBR200W - Blu-ray disc player

The Good

Very good Blu-ray image quality; Netflix, Vudu, and Pandora streaming; built-in Wi-Fi; plays music, videos, and photos off a connected USB drive; relatively inexpensive for its features set.

The Bad

Sluggish disc-loading speeds; occasional operational hiccups; Wi-Fi performance lags behind other players we've tested; no DLNA compatibility; fewer streaming services than some competitors; uninspired exterior design; no DivX support.

The Bottom Line

The Vizio VBR200W Blu-ray player is rough around the edges and a little slow, but you do get a lot of bang for your buck.

Vizio is a company best known for offering bargain-price HDTVs that perform better than you'd expect, so we weren't surprised to find that the company's VBR200W Blu-ray player fits the same mold. It's one of the cheapest players ($190 street price) we've seen that has built-in Wi-Fi, which makes it much easier to access its suite of streaming-media apps, which includes Netflix, Vudu, and Pandora. However, it appears that Vizio made some sacrifices to hit the lower price point. The VBR200W has the slowest disc-loading speeds of any standalone player we've tested this year, and its Wi-Fi performance is significantly worse. It lacks the polish of some competing players, and has occasional operational hiccups and a loud disc drive. Even though the VBR200W has its flaws, we feel that its perks will make up for them, especially for bargain-minded buyers.

Design
Powered off, the VBR200W has an extremely minimalist design with a very glossy black finish, no front panel buttons, a bulging silver disc tray, and orange Vizio logo in the center. There's no visual indication of how to operate the player until you press the power button on the remote. Then, the VBR200W's touch-sensitive buttons light up, including playback controls on the far right. The buttons mostly worked well, but we did have to "double touch" a few times when our presses weren't picked up. Also, Vizio didn't include a USB port on the player's front panel, so you'll have to reach around to its back to plug in a USB flash drive. The player is thicker than many of the competing models we've tested, coming in at 2.4 inches high compared with the Sony BDP-S570's 1.8-inch height. The VBR200W's design walks that fine line between slick and a little cheap; however, ultimately our impression came down on the cheap side, mostly because of the chunky disc tray.

VBR200W's design
The VBR200W's minimalist design has a certain charm, but overall it didn't quite work for us.

Vizio carried the cheap aesthetic over to the remote control. It's unusually large and covered in glossy plastic that gets covered in fingerprints in a hurry. Its button layout is decent, although the huge play/pause button is probably larger than it needs to be. The remote wasn't quite as responsive as we'd like in the main menus; we're not sure if it was the menus or the remote, but the VBR200W couldn't keep up with rapid button presses. Overall, it's a substandard clicker, but as always you can swap it out for a quality universal remote.

User interface
Though we are lukewarm about the VBR200W's exterior styling, we like its main user interface. The interface graphics are relatively attractive and the straightforward icon-driven approach makes it easy to pick your media type. Once you get into the setup menu, the menu organization becomes a little more convoluted, but the VBR200W gets the basics right.

Vizio VBR200W's main menu
We found the VBR200W's main menu to be attractive and easy to navigate.

Vizio VBR200W menu for navigating menu
The VBR200W doesn't have the slickest menus for navigating music off a connected USB drive, but it gets the job done.

Vizio includes Netflix's latest interface that lets you view some movies not in your instant queue, in categories like "Movies You'll Love" and "New Arrivals." If you're looking for some of the other apps, such as Facebook and Twitter, for the player, those are actually Vudu apps and are located in that menu. We were a little skeptical about the apps running off the Vudu platform, but they were very fast and responsive. On the VBR200W, Vizio also includes a basic interface for navigating music on an attached USB drive. It certainly lacks the eye candy of more-advanced interfaces like Apple TV or even the interface on the LG BD590, but it works for listening to some tunes in a pinch.

Features

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Key Blu-ray features
3D Blu-ray No Onboard memory No
Wi-Fi 802.11n Blu-ray profile 2.0

Considering the VBR200W's price, its feature set is solid. It's one of the only two sub-$200 Blu-ray players we've seen with built-in Wi-Fi, with the other being the Insignia NS-WBRDVD. It doesn't have onboard memory or 3D Blu-ray support, but it's hard to complain about its lack of those features when more-expensive units like the $225 LG BD570 don't include them either.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Streaming media features
Netflix Yes YouTube No
Amazon VOD No Pandora Yes
Vudu Yes Slacker No
CinemaNow No Picasa/Flickr Both
DLNA compliant No Weather Yes

The VBR200W's selection of streaming-media services covers all the most important bases: subscription-based movies with Netflix, pay-per-view movies with Vudu, and free streaming audio with Pandora. Its competitors, such as the LG BD570 and Samsung BD-C6500, certainly have more services, but there are diminishing returns after the basics are covered, and we found the VBR200W's selection perfectly adequate.

The rest of the Vizio's apps are inside the Vudu menu and use Vudu's app platform. These apps include weather, Flicker, Picasa, and more. We were a little skeptical of this arrangement at first, but we found that the apps worked quickly and well, even if they are a little hidden in the menu. It's worth noting that the company's apps-equipped TVs, on the other hand, have a different, custom apps platform with a wider selection, albeit no Vudu apps.

We were disappointed to find that Vizio didn't include DLNA compatibility or any other PC streaming functionality on the VBR200W. The LG BD570 and Samsung BD-C6500 are DLNA-compliant out-of-the-box and the Sony BDP-S570 is getting a firmware update for DLNA in the summer. Yes, the VBR200W can read digital media files off a connected USB memory drive, but network streaming is a nice convenience. We also didn't have any luck playing back a DivX file off a USB drive; the VBR200W said "file type unsupported."

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Audio decoding capabilities
Dolby TrueHD Yes DTS-HD Master Audio Yes
Dolby Digital Plus Yes DTS-HD HR Yes
Bit stream output Yes SACD/DVD-Audio No

Like nearly every Blu-ray player available, the VBR200W offers onboard decoding for both high-resolution Dolby and DTS formats. If you're looking to play back SACDs and DVD-Audio discs, you'll need to look to Oppo's competing players; Sony's competing BDP-S570 also offers SACD playback.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">AV outputs
HDMI version HDMI 1.3 Stereo analog Yes
Component video Yes Multichannel analog No
Composite video Yes Optical/coaxial Both

The VBR200W's AV output selection is standard. If you need 7.1 analog outputs to use with an older non-HDMI AV receiver, you'll need to go with the Oppo BDP-80 or Panasonic DMP-BD85K.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Other connectivity
Ethernet Yes SD card slot No
USB ports 1 RS-232 port No

The rest of the Vizio's connectivity is also standard. Yes, some competing players have two USB ports, but having only one is just a minor inconvenience.

Blu-ray image quality
We didn't know quite what to expect from the Vizio VBR200W in terms of image quality, but it handled itself well, passing a surprising number of test patterns and nearly all of our program material tests. It did stumble on one video-based program material test, which puts it a step behind the best-performing Blu-ray players, but we'd emphasize the difference is minor and for nearly all movies you'll see identical performance from the Vizio VBR200W and competitors. Unless you're a hardnosed videophile, the VBR200's Blu-ray image quality will look very impressive.

All our testing was conducted via HDMI at 1080p/60, with the Samsung PN58B650 display and Oppo BDP-83 and LG BD570 for comparison. For more information on our testing procedure, consult our full guide to how we test Blu-ray players. Home theater enthusiasts can also see more-detailed testing results in our 2010 Blu-ray player comparison chart.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Blu-ray image quality: Test patterns
Film resolution Pass Dynamic range high Pass
Video resolution Pass Dynamic range low Pass
Text overlay on film Pass Luma multiburst Pass
Cadence tests 1/8 Chroma multiburst Pass
Chroma bug test Pass

The Vizio VBR200W passed all of the most important tests, including the Film Resolution test that indicates that it should handle the majority of Blu-ray movies perfectly. The only tests it came up a little short in were the cadence tests, but actual program material with uncommon cadences is so rare that it's not worth considering.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Blu-ray image quality: Program material
"Ghost Rider" Pass "Tony Bennett" Pass
"M:I:III" Pass "NIN Live"; chapter 3 Fail
"Sunshine" Pass "NIN Live"; chapter 4 Pass

The VBR200W did so well with test patterns that we were surprised to see it stumble on one of our program material tests. We did see some significant jaggies on the video-based "Nine Inch Nails: Live" at the 8:10 mark, in the strings of Trent Reznor's guitar and when we looked at the same disc on the Oppo BDP-83, the jaggies weren't there. However, the Vizio did pass with all of the more common film-based movies, and the video-based "Tony Bennett: American Classic," which indicates it won't struggle with all video-based titles. Overall, we'd say the VBR200W's image quality is very good, but die-hard videophiles can find nits to pick if they look hard enough.

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Blu-ray operational speed (in seconds)
"M:I:III" | player on 21.70 "POTC" | until movie 85.11
"M:I:III" | player off | quick start n/a "Spider-Man 3" | until movie 72.22
"M:I:III" | player off | no quick start 28.50 "Sunshine" | chapter skip 15.95
"POTC" | past loading 35.35 CNET speed rating (composite score) 74

CNET speed rating (composite score)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Vizio VBR200W
74 

The Vizio VBR200W is the slowest standalone Blu-ray player we've tested this year, although it's still a good deal faster than the PS3 Slim. It was consistently slower than other players in pretty much all of our speed tests, including both movies with simple and complex menus. Still, the differences in load times between players are rarely more than 20 seconds, so those with a little patience will be fine with the VBR200W. It is worth pointing out that after the disc loads, the VBR200W "feels" a little faster than its 74 speed rating indicates, and it certainly navigates menus faster than the Panasonic DMP-BD85K, for example.

In addition to the sluggish load times, our overall experience with the VBR200W made us feel that the hardware was a little less stable than competing players. Once when loading "Sunshine," the VBR200W took an abnormally long time to load the disc and when the image finally came up, it was half-garbled. Adding to the feeling of instability is the loudness of the VBR200W's disc drive, as you can often hear the player struggling to read the disc--it's significantly louder than other players we've tested. That being said, the hiccups and noise weren't deal breakers for us, and we expect many people would accept them as acceptable trad-eoffs for the lower price tag.

DVD performance

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">DVD image quality: Test patterns and program material
Film resolution Pass "Seabiscuit" Pass
Video resolution Fail "Star Trek: Insurrection" Pass
Text overlay on film Fail "Invite Them Up" Pass
Cadence tests 2/8

The Vizio did a better-than-expected job on our DVD test patterns and program material tests. The only major slip-up came on part of the video resolution test, which it did fail particularly badly, with several jaggylike artifacts appearing intermittently on the test pattern. That being said, our video-based "Invite Them Up" program material was handled with ease by the VBR200W. Subjectively, we'd say the VBR200W's upconversion looked about average; it won't suit image quality enthusiasts, but it should be good enough for most people.

Streaming video image quality

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Streaming video image quality
Netflix Good

As with most devices, we saw no major image quality issues with Netflix streaming on the Vizio VBR200W. That gives the VBR200W an edge over the Sony BDP-S570, which suffers from some streaming image quality issues.

Image quality was up to par, but we did notice that its Wi-Fi performance overall was mediocre. It took us forever to load up Netflix movies and even just accessing network-enabled sections felt sluggish. We conduct our Blu-ray player reviews in the same test environment and haven't had any network issues with other Wi-Fi enabled Blu-ray players. When we switched over to a wired Ethernet connection, we didn't run into the same issues.

Power consumption

"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Power consumption
Standby | quick start off 0.55 W Standby | quick start on n/a
Power on | watching movie 20.50 W Power on | idling 19.15 W
Annual cost; quick start off $1.78 Annual cost; quick start on n/a

Unlike some other Blu-ray players, the VBR200W lacks a quick start mode and therefore uses very little power in standby mode. In comparison, the Sony BDP-S570 has an annual cost of $7.35 with its quick start feature enabled. The downside with the VBR200W is that you don't have the option of faster load times if you're willing to pay the extra cost.

OVR
6.8

VIZIO VBR200W - Blu-ray disc player

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 7