Vizio VP322 review: Vizio VP322

Performance
Objectively speaking, the performance of the VP322 leaves a lot to be desired. Color in particular is quite inaccurate, due mainly to the very poor choice of the green primary color, and black levels were a bit disappointing especially for a plasma. The superior uniformity of plasma was refreshing at this screen size, however.

During the user-menu calibration I was able to make a significant improvement in the grayscale using the red, green, and blue controls in the Custom color temperature menu. Still, flesh tones had an odd orange/brown cast to them, which is also an observation I also made with its bigger sibling, the VP422. Gamma is way off the mark, and consequently grayscale tracking is very choppy both before and after calibration. Check out the Geek Box below for specifics, and my full picture settings here. For my comparison I looked at the Vizio next to the Panasonic TC-32LX85 and the Sony KDL-32M4000, both more expensive LCDs, as well as the Insignia NS-LCD32-09, a less-expensive LCD.

Black level: The black level performance of the VP322 is not great by any means; blacks are basically a dark gray. Watching Chapter 6 of 2001: A Space Odyssey provided one example, with the contrast of the bright white spacecraft against the black background of space. This scene looked a bit muddy on the 322. By way of comparison, all three of the other LCDs had better blacks, in varying degrees, than the VP322, although I have definitely seen worse than the Vizio. Another worthwhile test comes at Chapter 12, where a small spacecraft is traveling just above the surface of a planet; the Vizio displayed relatively good shadow detail here.

Color accuracy: An incorrect choice of primary colors, particularly green, is the downfall of many a flat-panel display today, and the VP322 suffers worse than most from this issue. The company should consider filtering the red, green, and blue to make them all more accurate, but as it stands all of the three LCDs produced more accurate color. In Chapter 6 of I, Robot for example, where Will Smith visits US Robotics, I could see that skin tones simply looked incorrect, although color saturation was OK. The Panasonic LC-32LX85 and even the Insignia to a lesser extent were superior in color fidelity, because the primary colors are a lot closer to the HD spec, and the gamma and grayscale tracking were much better as well.

Video processing: The little Vizio plasma was far from perfect in this regard, failing both the Film Resolution and Video Resolution Loss tests, so the TV may introduce artifacts in 1080i material from film and video. To its credit, however, the VP322 did accept and display 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 from the PS3 Blu-ray player, so if you have a 1080p source, you can avoid this issue. The subjective sharpness of the picture didn't suffer from the set's lower resolution, however. Chapter 2 of I, Robot starts with a close-up shot of Will Smith as he wakes up, and the detail in his face was just as impressive on the Vizio as on the LCDs.

Uniformity: White field uniformity is quite good, as I would expect from any plasma panel. The very beginning of Chapter 5 of The Italian Job, where the crew is celebrating its successful heist in the Austrian alps, gives you a slow pan of the snow-covered mountains, and the Vizio reproduced them with little or no color splotching. Off-angle performance was also better than any of the LCDs; dark areas and colors were not significantly altered when I moved to seating positions other than the sweet spot.

Bright lighting: Since the Vizio's glass screen reflected ambient light, and most of the LCDs have matte plastic screens, the VP322 suffered somewhat in bright lighting. It collected more and brighter reflections from the windows and lights, which as usual became more apparent when the set displayed darker scenes.

Standard-definition: The VP322 is an above-average performer with standard-def material. While the set did resolve every detail of the DVD format and details were as sharp as we'd expect, there was some flicker in the highest-frequency pattern from the HQV DVD test disc. The Vizio smoothed out jaggies from moving diagonal lines, such as the stripes on a waving American flag, better than many displays including the Panasonic LCD. The Vizio's three-step noise reduction cleaned up the messiest shots quite well, and its 2:3 pulldown detection kicked in quickly and effectively.

PC: As a small, relatively low-resolution monitor, the Vizio performed very well, displaying the full resolution of a 1,024x720 signal via both VGA and HDMI with little if any visible difference between the two.

TEST RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 5970/6340 Average
After color temp 6600/6760 Average
Before grayscale variation +/- 381 Average
After grayscale variation +/- 189 Average
Color of red (x/y) 0.644/0.345 Average
Color of green 0.265/0.662 Poor
Color of blue 0.148/0.061 Good
Overscan 3.0% Average
Defeatable edge enhancement Y Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Y Good
1080i video resolution Fail Poor
1080i film resolution Fail Poor
*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 VP322 Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power Save
Picture on (watts) 122.97 115.35 N/A
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.28 0.26 N/A
Standby (watts) 2.16 2.16 N/A
Cost per year $39.40 $37.04 N/A
Score (considering size) Good
Score (overall) Good

How we test TVs