Editors' note: The rating on this review has been lowered because of changes in the competitive marketplace.
As Vizio matures as a TV brand, it continues to increase product diversity, which translates into models like the VOJ370F. This set is the company's step-up 37-inch model, differentiated from less expensive versions by 1080p resolution and "Java" styling. The resolution, as we are so fond of saying, won't make much difference with non-PC sources, but that doesn't spoil an otherwise impressive performance by this midsize LCD. The VOJ370F surpassed the other LCDs in our comparison with its color accuracy, which highlights its all-around solid picture quality. Granted, this set does cost more than an entry-level 720p 37-inch LCD, but not my much.
Lest you read the word "java" in Vizio's product literature or see an image that makes the TV seem brown as a nonfat latte, don't worry. In person the VOJ370F is more French Roast with no milk, and in dark lighting it looks as black as any TV. The frame around the screen is of medium thickness, matte in finish and perforated with hundreds of tiny holes, although only the thicker section on the bottom conceals speakers.
To further differentiate the Java from the pack, a golden-colored reflective strip runs along the bottom of the frame. Vizio's trademark logo glows bluish-white when the TV's on and fades to orange when it's turned off, and its illumination cannot be quenched. All told, the VOJ370F looks stylish enough, although that gold strip and the big row of logos on the left side prevent it from earning an adjective like "understated."
Including the matching stand the TV measures 36.3 inches wide by 25 inches high by 8.6 inches deep and weighs 36.6 pounds. Remove the stand and dimensions shrink to 36.3 inches wide by 23.8 inches high by 3.9 inches deep and its weight drops to 35 pounds.
The included remote control has a very simple layout--which we appreciated--but we were frustrated by some other design snags. The directional pad is centrally located, but it doubles as both channel and volume control; we prefer separate, dedicated button rockers. We were initially thrown off by the center "V" button, which brings up the menu and also doubles as an "OK" button in the menus. The clicker lacks a dedicated button to switch between aspect ratios, so you'll have to dig into the menu to change modes. On the upside, we liked the individual buttons to access inputs, although it's somewhat confusing that they're lumped in with other functions like "mute" and "last."
There are nine different picture modes on the VOJ370F, which is much more than you'll find on other TVs. That's because Vizio offers up custom picture settings for different types of sports, so there are separate picture modes for baseball, football, and golf (hockey fans, as usual, are ignored). As you might expect, the modes don't actually enhance different sports--the settings generally just exaggerate green and adjust the sharpness. And more disappointing is the fact that the picture modes are not independent per input.
We liked that Vizio included adjustments for all four of the color-temperature presets, letting you tweak them to your liking. There's also a range of options that should mostly be left off for high-quality sources. There are three strengths of noise reduction, four Color Enhancement modes (each messes with color decoding; we preferred Off, since it didn't introduce red push), an Advanced Adaptive Luma setting that adjusts gamma in dark areas (again, Off proved best), and an Enhanced Contrast Ratio setting we left off, since it caused black levels to fluctuate according to program content.
We were disappointed, on the other hand, to learn that the VOJ370F only offers two choices for aspect ratio on HD sources, and as we mentioned above the remote lacks a dedicated key to toggle between them. The default "Full" mode does map 1080i and 1080p sources directly to the screen's native resolution--a good thing--but we would have liked to see another mode that introduced some overscan to deal with channels that introduce interference along the extreme edges. For standard-definition sources, there are four aspect ratio options, but again you'll have to dig into the setup menu to change them.
The VOJ370F's connectivity suite is fully packed. The rear panel houses two HDMI inputs, a VGA-style PC input, a component video input, and an AV input that offers both composite and S-Video. The side panel offers up another HDMI input, along with an additional component and AV input (only composite). It's worth noting that the side component and AV inputs share an audio input, so you'll have to choose one or the other.
The VOJ370F benefited from accurate color that's among the best of any small-screened LCD we've tested, and although its black levels could have been deeper, overall we had no major complaints about its picture quality.
Prior to our standard calibration the VOJ370F exhibited relatively good grayscale performance in its Normal color temperature preset, although all of the picture presets, including Movie, were too bright for our darkened home theater. We reduced the backlight to near-zero to reach our target of 40ftl, and were pleased to note that color accuracy didn't suffer as a result. In fact, post-calibration the Vizio exhibited one of the most accurate grayscales we've seen from any LCD of any size. We would have liked to see a few gamma choices, however, since post-calibration the set's gamma scored a mediocre 1.9 versus a target of 2.2. For our complete picture settings, check out this blog post.
For our comparison, we lined the Vizio up next to a few competing, smaller LCDs, including the 37-inch Panasonic TC-37LZ85, the Hitachi UT37X902, as well as the 32-inch Sony KDL-32M4000. For reference (not to represent comparable models) we enlisted the Samsung LN52A650 LCD and the Pioneer PRO-111FD plasma. To perform the majority of image quality tests, our film of choice this time was Bangkok Dangerous on Blu-ray played via the Sony PlayStation 3.
Black level: Among the similar-size LCDs in our comparison, the Vizio VOJ370F delivered the lightest shade of black, but not by a very wide margin at all. In fact, the difference would be impossible to detect outside of a side-by-side comparison. Near-black areas like the shadowy recesses of the room where Cage sets up his sniper blind still appeared acceptably dark. Details in shadows, such as the edges of Cage's scope and gun, seemed a bit less-natural and too bright compared with our reference display and to the other LCDs, although again the difference wasn't drastic.
Color accuracy: The Vizio outperformed to other displays in terms of color accuracy. Its linear grayscale matched that of the reference very well, and the effect showed up in skin tones like the faces of the dignitaries in the convertible and the people in the crowd as Cage contemplates assassination. White areas also looked nearly perfect, from the sunlit sides of the buildings to the clouds in the sky. Primary colors, such as the green plants in his yard, also looked close to the reference, if a bit less lush because of the LCD's lighter black levels.
One area that could be improved was the VOJ370F's tendency to dip into bluish green in near-black and black areas, but overall the Vizio reproduced colors better than just about any small-screen LCD we've seen.
Video processing: The VOJ370F successfully resolved every line of a 1,920x1,080-pixel test pattern, correctly deinterlaced video as well as film-based sources, and scored between 300 and 400 lines on our motion resolution tests. As usual, none of these resolution characteristics was distinguishable in program material; the 1,366x768 resolution Sony, for example, looked just as sharp as the 1080p displays in our comparison.
Uniformity: The Vizo's screen evinced no major bright or dark spots. In flat fields of color created by test patterns we could discern slight brightness variations in some areas of the screen, but they were invisible in normal program material. In our darkened room, black and near-black areas on the Vizio washed out more quickly than the other displays, and blur discoloration set in relatively quickly.
Bright lighting: We saw the usual stellar performance expected from a matte LCD screen under high ambient conditions with afternoon sun coming in through the windows. The screen attenuated reflections as well as the other matte LCDs in the lineup and better than the glass-screen plasma or the shiny-screened Samsung, although the latter maintained black levels better in bright lighting.
Standard-definition: Standard-definition picture quality was solid on the Vizio. The set resolved every line of the DVD format while details in the stone bridge and grass looked sharp enough, although not as well as the Hitachi. We did appreciate its capability to remove jaggies from spinning diagonal lines and the stripes of a waving American flag. The noise reduction circuit was hit-or-miss, cleaning up some shots of skies and sunsets well but leaving many with more snowy motes than the other displays in our comparison. The Vizio's film mode processing kicked in quickly and effectively to remove moire from the grandstands behind the race car.
PC: As we'd expect from a 1080p LCD, the Vizio VOJ370F resolved every detail of a 1,920x1,080-pixel source via both VGA and HDMI, with no overscan or edge enhancement.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6516/6413||Good|
|After color temp||6496/6462||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||68||Good|
|After grayscale variation||54||Good|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.64/0.334||Good|
|Color of green||0.287/0.606||Good|
|Color of blue||0.151/0.064||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Yes||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Pass||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
|Vizio VOJ370F||Picture settings|
|Picture on (watts)||145.84||76.64||N/A|
|Picture on (watts/sq. inch)||0.25||0.14||N/A|
|Cost per year||$45.14||$23.72||N/A|
|Score (considering size)||Good|