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Vizio VO47LF review: Vizio VO47LF

Vizio VO47LF

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
7 min read

As Vizio continues to prove itself capable of competing in sales against the Sonys and Samsungs of the world, the company keeps tweaking its formula of offering plenty of bang for the buck, especially in the features department. The newly designed VO47LF, a 47-inch flat-panel LCD, has four HDMI inputs and plenty of picture adjustments in addition to the now all-but-standard 1080p resolution (for what that's worth). Its image quality stands solidly in the middle of the road, with those lighter black levels and subpar off-angle viewing characteristics seen on many other budget LCDs, but balanced by good color accuracy, at least after adjustment. You can still find numerous larger, 50-inch plasmas available for around the same price, but if you must have LCD and want a big screen for smaller money, the VO47LF deserves strong consideration.


Vizio VO47LF

The Good

Relatively inexpensive; accurate color temperature after calibration; accurate primary colors; solid uniformity across the screen; excellent connectivity with four HDMI inputs and one PC input; attractive finish.

The Bad

Produces a lighter shade of black; inaccurate color temperature presets; below-average off-angle viewing; just two aspect ratio modes with HD sources.

The Bottom Line

Despite our usual picture quality quibbles, the well-equipped Vizio VO47LF 47-inch flat-panel LCD stays true to the company's good-value reputation.

Vizio's HDTVs have, for the last two years, embraced a Chevy Monte Carlo-style two-tone paint job, with black glossy bodies above silver speakers. The VO47LF breaks that trend to fall in line with most of the other HDTVs available today, dressing itself entirely in black. The edge around the screen is glossy, framed in perforated matte black, and the entire cabinet is slimmer than previous Vizios and, to our eye, marginally better-looking. The company kept its trademark light-up, er, trademark, which glows white when the TV's turned on and orange when it's off. It's a good thing the glow is dim, because there's no way to turn it off.

The unusually comprehensive, well-written manual unfortunately lacks a specifications page, so we turned to the Vizio Web site to discover that the VO47LF measures 44.5 inches wide by 29.8 inches tall by 10.5 inches deep with the stand and 44.5 inches wide by 28.5 inches tall by 4.5 inches deep without. That's more compact than the company's previous generation of panels although, unlike some previous Vizio models, the VO47LF doesn't let users detach the speakers.

The remote control for the VO47LF is quite good, with backlighting behind just about every key, plenty of room between buttons, and a sensible layout that should be easy to learn for most users. Many of the keys along the bottom double-up on different functions, and they can be hard to differentiate at times, but we did appreciate the array of keys that provide direct access to each input type (TV, AV, component, and HDMI). The clicker can command three other pieces of gear.

A native resolution of 1920x1080, or 1080p, tops the VO47LF's spec sheet. It's the highest pixel count currently available and lets the display show every detail of the highest-resolution HDTV material. That's all well and good, although at this screen size you'll be hard-pressed to appreciate the extra detail. No matter; everybody's going 1080p these days, especially in LCD, so it's almost a nonissue at this point.

Vizio VO47LF
A custom color temperature menu allows you to tweak the VO47LF's grayscale.

Picture-adjustment features, however, are an issue, and the VO47LF has a solid palette to choose from. The three color temperature presets are augmented by a "Custom" mode with individual controls for red, green, and blue. You can also customize the standard picture controls independently per input, and we were happy to note the presence of a backlight control. The set also has a variety of settings in the Advanced menu that are generally best left turned off, with the exception of the noise-reduction control, which despite its relative ineffectiveness should be engaged for noisy sources.

Vizio VO47LF
Most of the options in the Advanced picture menu aren't all that useful.

Unlike many HDTVs these days, the VO47LF still includes a picture-in-picture option that allows you to watch two programs at once. The set offers a choice of just two aspect ratio modes with HD sources and four with standard-definition. The Wide mode with 1080i and 1080p material results in zero overscan, but we would have liked a mode that overscanned a bit, so the occasional interference visible at the extreme edges of some HD channels could be eliminated.

We loved that the back panel of the VO47LF was equipped with enough HDMI jacks--four in all--to outfit the most console-heavy entertainment system. We also appreciated the VGA-style PC input for analog computer connections (1920x1080 maximum resolution). There are also two standard AV inputs, one with composite video and one with S-Video; an RF input for antenna and/or cable; an optical digital audio output and a stereo analog audio output. This set is missing easy-access front- or side-panel connections.

Vizio VO47LF
With four rear-panel HDMI inputs, the VO47LF delivers impressive connectivity for a budget HDTV.

The short story on the VO47LF's picture quality is that it can't muster the depth of black seen on many more-expensive panels and its initial color temperature could use some work, but we did appreciate its accurate primary colors and adjustability. After our standard calibration (click here or scroll down to Tips for our picture settings), we checked out Castaway on Blu-ray, comparing the Vizio with the budget Insignia NS-PDP42 along with our reference displays for color and black level, the Sony KDS-55A3000, and the Pioneer PDP-5080HD, respectively.

Black-level performance: The depth of black produced by the Vizio VO47LF is about average for a budget set; not too bright but definitely not nearly as dark as better flat-panel LCD and plasma displays we've reviewed. From the sweet spot in front of the TV, dark areas such as the night sky over the FedEx tarmac or the shadows inside Tom Hanks' Jeep Cherokee appeared a bit darker and more realistic then on the Insignia, but not nearly as rich as on the other two displays. However, shadow details, such as the tangled depths of Helen Hunt's hair or the folds of Hanks' jacket, did appear less distinct on the Vizio than even the Insignia.

Color accuracy: Calibrating the VO47LF's color temperature improved this area immensely; unfortunately the Warm preset was entirely too red (it measured closer to the 5,400K black-and-white standard then the ideal for HDTV of 6,500K), while the Normal and Cool were unacceptably blue. After adjustment, white areas such as the captains' shirts and the froth of the water entering the airplane looked much more natural, although in dim areas the tone was still too red. We also noticed that, as with many LCDs, the black and near-black portions of the screen were tinged with blue.

Primary colors were relatively accurate, from the lush greens of the jungle island to the blue of the ocean and sky to the orangish-red of Hanks' canvas bag. Color balance also stood the test, as evinced by his not-too-ruddy face in the first couple days of being stranded. We did notice that colors in general lacked the kind of punch and saturation we saw on the Pioneer, a symptom of lighter black levels, but accuracy was solid overall.

Video processing: As with nearly every 1080p LCD we've tested, the Vizio fully resolved every detail of a 1920x1080 test pattern, but as usual it was next-to-impossible to see any difference in detail between this 1080p display and the 720p (er, 768p) Pioneer. The Insignia did appear a bit softer in some highly detailed areas, like the rock face or sand or an overhead shot of a jungle floor, but we chalk up that difference to the Insignia's unusually soft picture, not to any advantage the Vizio's 1080p resolution brings. The VO47LF failed to properly deinterlace 1080i film-based material, but as usual that failure was extremely difficult to spot in program material.

Other considerations: As with many LCDs, the Vizio's performance falls off if you move off-angle from the sweet spot, at a rate that's more noticeable than many other LCDs we've seen. The darker areas of the image wash out, and from extreme angles a characteristic reddish tinge sets in. On the flipside we were impressed by the uniformity of the VO47LF's picture across the screen, which remained solid except for the extreme upper-left corner, which looked a bit brighter than the rest in the darkest scenes.

Standard-definition: The Vizio turned in a mediocre performance overall, with a few jaggies visible on moving diagonal lines, some softness in high-detail shots unless the sharpness control was maximized, and relatively ineffective noise reduction.

PC: Although the analog PC input accepted 1920x1080 sources, they looked soft and text appeared choppy, and the set was unable to resolve every line of horizontal resolution, even after the "auto adjust" feature was activated. Via HDMI, PC sources looked superb as expected.

Before color temp (20/80) 6417/5811 Average
After color temp 6185/6493 Average
Before grayscale variation +/- 473K Average
After grayscale variation +/- 216K Average
Color of red (x/y) 0.639/0.34 Good
Color of green 0.281/0.616 Average
Color of blue 0.145/0.06 Good
Overscan 0.0% Good
Black-level retention All patterns stable Good
Defeatable edge enhancement N Poor
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Y Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Fail Poor

Vizio VO47LF Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power Save
Picture on (watts) 277.52 141.86 N/A
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.29 0.15 N/A
Standby (watts) 1.19 1.19 N/A
Cost per year $85.00 $43.80 N/A
Score (considering size) Average
Score (overall) Average
*Cost per year based on 2007 average U.S. residential electricity cost of 10.6 cents per kw/hr at 8 hours on/16 hours off per day.


Vizio VO47LF

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 5