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Price and Performance meet Quality Control Issues
on March 1, 2014
This is my first Vizio TV, and I have to say that I am impressed by the quality of the picture and the features for a set selling for this price.
I have to start off by saying that I did have to have the initial set I was sent replaced due to dead pixels. Multiple dead pixels in fact. One or two dark pixels surrounded by clusters of grey pixels that were very noticeable, especially during particularly bright images. Somewhere between 30 to 40 of them. If you're like me, one or two are barely acceptable, so this many were absolutely not. That said, as mentioned, I was impressed with the price and features of the set, and with the exception of the pixel problem, was quite impressed with the image quality, so I decided to return the item for a replacement and see if this was going to be a common problem, or if I just got a lemon. The replacement set arrived and looked fantastic, so it was clearly a one off, but I would still examine your set carefully if you pick one of these up to make sure you don't get stuck with a similar problem.
As for the return and replacement, UPS arrived at my doorstep in two days with a call-tag to pick up the first set, and later that same day, my replacement set arrived. Kudos once again to Amazon for their stellar, speedy service.
My review as it follows will be based on the replacement set I received.
Firstly, the overall look and design of this TV is very sleek and sexy with a minimal bezel. The set itself has a very thin profile, and weighs a very slight 17 lbs. The stand included with the set is attached via three included screws, and the entire process from unboxing to connecting all my components took all of five minutes with an additional five for setting up the features and wifi. The stand does feel a bit light for the set, even at that minimal weight, and there is some slight wobble, but unless you are jumping up and down in front of it regularly, not something that will affect daily use. The first set I received had hard rubber feet on the bottom of the stand, and was a bit slippery. A simple touch of the side or corners of the set and the set would spin a bit quite easily. The stand on the second set had feet made of softer rubber, and stays put quite nicely.
The available inputs are more than adequate for most users, but if you have an entertainment system with multiple audio and video components and game consoles, you may want to assess if there are enough of them here for you. There are 3 HDMI inputs, and one set of shared composite video and audio inputs. There is one USB 2.0 port. I have three game consoles and a Tivo box, but the cable box is currently passed through my Xbox One, so I only need three HDMI ports at this time. Should I add another component to the mix, I will have to rethink my set-up.
The picture is really impressive for a set at this price point. The full array LED panel is a feature that was previously unheard of on a set under a thousand dollars, so that is a huge selling point here. The whites are bright and true without being over saturated, the blacks are inky, and color reproduction is true to life. I used the Disney Worlds of Wonder blu-ray to calibrate this TV, and these are the settings I settled on:
Under Advanced picture Settings, I used these:
Auto Brightness OFF
Black Detail OFF
Active LED Zones ON
Reduce Signal Noise HIGH
Reduce Block Noise HIGH
Film Mode AUTO
Vizio says this set has an "effective 120Hz refresh rate," and I'm not entirely sure how true this is, as there are no settings to turn any kind of motion blur effect on or off, so it feels like it is essentially a 60Hz refresh rate, although I do notice a slight "soap opera effect" during faster action scenes, particularly darker ones, and also during scenes shot in a handheld camera, so there may be some sort of automatic refresh rate change happening, but the lack of an option to turn that function on and off is disappointing in a set that otherwise has some very nice features (I have since been corrected that the "effective" refresh is done via backlighting, and as stated earlier, the effect is minimal at best, and this is misleading as the set truly has a 60hz refresh rate).
Gaming looks wonderful on this set. Both previous gen games and next gen games look crisp and rich, with no detectable ghosting or lag that I could see.
The sound is better than I expected. For most flat screen TVs, sound is generally the weak point. I find that the simulated surround sound on this TV works quite nicely, and with several EQ settings to choose from, you can really customize it so that anything sounds good. Of course, the addition of a sound bar wouldn't hurt.
The Smart TV functions work nicely even if a few of the interfaces feel a bit clunky. They respond quickly, and the wireless connected quickly to my network with a solid signal that has not wavered, and streams Netflix content in HD with no lag or interruptions. I have other components that handle my streaming services better however, and am not likely to use these through the TV directly, but if you don't have a game console or blu-ray player that offers streaming apps, this feature should appeal to you. *Edit: Other reviewers have noted that there are apps missing from the set, such as Pandora, but they are in fact available. If you simply click the Apps button on the remote twice, then select "All Apps", you will find many additional apps available to you, and you can choose what apps you would like to favorite, and the order in which they appear on the dock.
On-screen menus are clearly defined and intuitive.
One of the bigger disappointments of this set is the remote control. The layout is fine, and the inclusion of dedicated buttons for Netflix and Amazon Video are a nice if common feature, but the build quality is a true shame. Very lightweight plastic that feels cheap in the hand, with buttons that clunk when you press them. It's for this reason that I gave this set four stars instead of five. If you have a decent universal remote however, this won't be a concern for you.
All in all, this is a wonderful TV for a fantastic price. It has a beautiful picture, good sound, a solid selection of apps and smart TV features, and that full array LED truly makes this set shine. If you are looking for a set that offers quality at an affordable price, this is the way to go.
**UPDATE as of 3/19/2014** - After three weeks, my replacement set has developed a dead pixel problem as well. There are 7 dead pixels left of center of screen in a line that looks like a grey smear until you get up close and see the individual pixels. There is also a stuck pixel at the top of the screen near the bezel, also left of center. I'm very disppointed by this, and will be returning this set. The question now is what to replace it with. This is certainly shaking my confidence in the Vizio brand as far as quality control is concerned. I'll have to think on this for a while. In the meantime, if you own this I suggest you take a good look at your screen. Try to get a solid white, or other solid color screen image up and examine it well.
I still stand by all the points of my above review. This is a solid TV with a great picture, and fantatic features for a set in this price range - if you are lucky enough to get a unit without any dead or stuck pixels, that is. I am going to have to drop another star unfortunately due to quality control issues. Two sets in a row with the same issue/defect cannot be ignored.
**UPDATE 3/21/2014** - Some good news for folks having trouble with the Amazon app, I spoke with a Vizio rep today regarding a seperate issue, and asked if she could provide any info on the Amazon app. She told me that there is a compliance issue with the FCC due to a Closed Captioning standard in the app, and the app is being re-worked to comply, and should be updated and available within a few weeks.