Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 03/18/08
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VIZIO 42-Inch LCD 1080p HDTV

Ultra budget $1399 HDTV

By Heath McKnight

HDTV prices are coming down while the quality of the picture and sound are going up. The VIZIO 42-inch LCD 1080p HDTV sports many great features, a stunning picture, and crisp sound, all at a great price. VIZIO is relatively new to the world of HDTV, and the company provides great value and quality flat panel Plasma and LCD HDTVs.

As more companies discontinue their Plasma lines to focus on LCD, VIZIO is in a unique position to continue offering both Plasma and LCDs to a public looking to get rid of their standard definition televisions. Recently, VIZIO was named Wal-Mart`s top supplier of 2007 after only arriving at stores in May 2007.

I recently had the opportunity to review the VIZIO VU42LF 42-inch LCD 1080p HDTV, and I was very happy with what I saw and heard. The list price is $1,399 which is an incredible deal. When the VU42LF arrived, I was ready to immediately put it through its paces. But first, a quick glance at the included features of the VU42LF:

  • 42-inch LCD HDTV screen
  • Full 1920 x 1080p resolution, which supports frame rates of 30p and 24p (commonly found on movie DVDs). Also supports 1080i, 720p, 480p and 480i. All NTSC, of course
  • Widescreen plus 4:3 support (which appear as two vertical black bars on either side of the image, also known as pillar bars)
  • Great viewing angles
  • 1500:1 contrast ratio, besting competing brands
  • Built-in HDTV and SDTV tuners
  • PiP (Picture-in-Picture)
  • I/O ports: Two HDMI, digital optical audio (5.1 surround), analog video and audio (Component, S-Video and Composite, also known as RCA) and computer RGB, if you really want to use the HDTV as a computer monitor

 

Setting up the VIZIO was a lot easier than my old 1080i widescreen CRT, which was a real "bear" to lift off my entertainment center. Once I had it hooked up to my DVD player, satellite receiver, and VUDU device, along with a borrowed set of 5.1 surround sound speakers and PlayStation 3 to the VIZIO, I was ready to start setting everything up in the TV.

First thing I did was use a DVD with color bars to calibrate. The Joe Kane Productions (http://joekane.com/) Blu-Ray DVD to help calibrate an HDTV wasn`t available at the time, but the SD DVD I used worked fine. Once I had the colors, contrast and brightness customized to my liking, I was able to save it under the "Custom" setting.

Sometimes I`ll pull up the Cinema pre-set if I`m watching a movie and the scenes seem a little brighter than normal. That`s the big thing about watching movies vs. TV: movies will "crush" the blacks, losing a lot of detail. The VIZIO handles blacks well, but I use my Custom setting mostly for TV shows, and switch to the Cinema pre-set for the movies I watch.


   Once I was satisfied with the image, I began to test things out. I first watched some HD movies on the Vudu, followed by a little bit of The Simpsons Movie in SD (to see how animation holds up). I then switched over to the satellite to watch news, DVR`d shows (which always have compression noise because of how it`s recorded and stored), and more. I don`t have HDTV programming, but I liked the images of SDTV shows (I set the aspect ratio from native 16:9 to 4:3 to watch the shows). Sound was excellent through both the stereo surround sound speakers and the VIZIO`s speakers. You can also tweak the sound, too, including bass or treble, plus whether you`re using surround sound or not. I like as much control as possible.

After that, my friend and I played some XBOX (the first generation console, not 360, through component) and PlayStation 3 games, along with some Blu-ray movies. We had a great time and enjoyed the picture and sound quality. Blu-ray can really show off an HDTV`s quality, good or bad, and I`m happy to report it looked incredible. You can probably guess that this is fun research.

I spent some time with the VIZIO, just using it daily for TV, movies and video games. I would occasionally notice something visually on a certain show or movie, and I`d make a tweak to the color or brightness/contrast controls. With the VIZIO, I really didn`t have to do that. Other than switching to the Cinema pre-set every now and then on movies that were a bit darker visually, like when I watched Stardust and re-watched David Fincher`s Se7en, I never felt like I had to tweak any of the settings.


The backlit remote is great, and aside from controlling the TV, I simply hit CBL to control the satellite receiver, or DVD for my DVD player. One note: while in TV mode, the red record button acts as the aspect ratio switcher. You can set the native widescreen HDTV to wide, 4:3, etc.

So what does this mean for you? More and more HDTVs are coming down in price, and consumers are really starting to look at upgrading to HDTV and 1080p, the best high definition resolution. It`s a competitive market. Now is the best time to go out and buy an HDTV.

With a list price of $1,399, the VU42LF is the best price for an LCD 1080p HDTV. The overall picture, sound quality, features, and manual controls make it a great deal for anyone ready to move up to a 1080p HDTV. Find out more at www.vizio.com, including the full specs of the VU42LF and the entire line of VIZIO LCD and Plasma HDTVs.

Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.



Related Keywords:HDTV, LCD TV, home theater, televisions

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