August 24, 2011
I purchased this TV after buying a Samsung UN46D6400 LED TV and returning it to Samsung for a refund -- Samsung was great to work with, by the way, and I would buy from them again only because they acted honorably in the spirit of customer satisfaction. That being said, having bought the Samsung for $1,300, I felt somewhat like I'd been "ripped off." Sure, the TV's contrast ratio was through the roof, and the image quality overall was bar none, but I believe the contrast ratio, in addition to the high-gloss coating Samsung applies to its screens, exacerbate any screen uniformity issues, and the unit I had suffered from HORRIBLE clouding and "flashlighting." Furthermore, though it was a 3D-ready TV, it included no glasses (which are pricey), and accessing any internet apps would have required the purchase of an external wifi dongle, an additional $80 or so. In short, I would have had to spend about $1,500 to use the Samsung's 3D and internet features, and I still would have been stuck with a TV marred by poor backlight uniformity.
For the Vizio E3D420VX, I spent a total of $668, and while this TV is 42", versus the Samsung's 46 inches, it includes two pairs of 3D glasses and has 802.11n built in. I set it up, connected my PS3 via HDMI, and breezed through the setup procedure. It picked up my wireless network quickly, and I was immediately able to access Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and all of the other available online content. My PS3 looks fantastic, but the icing on the cake is the 3D. It's not just $668 good. It's very, very good, period. I've played a few game demos and viewed some of the free 3D content available on PSN, and so far, I'm really impressed with what I've seen (and having been partially responsible for the development of Dell's Alienware AW2310 3D gaming monitor, I know 3D).
I'm also very happy with some of the TV's other, less prominent features, such as its RCA analog stereo output, the option to turn-off its power LED (thank you, Vizio, and praise baby Jesus!!!), and its clever QWERTY remote. I have a 2.1 receiver with two bookshelf speakers and a sub, and it's becoming more and more difficult to find a TV with analog stereo outputs. With this Vizio TV, I was able to easily connect my receiver and use the TV's remote to adjust the volume level. When my receiver was connected to the Samsung TV, I had to use the receiver's remote to adjust the volume level, because the Samsung remote's volume control becomes disabled when the TV is configured for "External Speakers." Being able to turn-off the Vizio's power LED, while a minor feature, is a HUGE plus to me; I had an older Vizio TV whose illuminated logo I quickly became annoyed with, so to be able to view content with one less visual distraction makes for a great bonus -- it's really nice to see a company like Vizio being mindful of details like this. And speaking of details, while I've noted complaints about the QWERTY remote, the only thing I can ding if for is not being back-lit; however, at $668, I can't balk. In fact, even in the dark, entering text using the remote's keyboard is far, far more convenient than having to use what is usually a poorly executed on-screen substitute.
As for the Vizio's picture quality, it's not perfect, but it's still very, very impressive, especially at its price-point. Contrast is good, clarity is very good, and after calibrating the unit, its color reproduction is, in my opinion, extremely natural and transparent. Overall, I'm thoroughly impressed with its ability to render HD content. It does suffer somewhat from backlight uniformity issues, and it's black levels don't touch those of plasmas or LED TVs, but in comparing it to the Samsung LED TV I had, I have to say that even in dark scenes, this TV is far more satisfying to watch; as mentioned previously, I suspect that the astronomically high contrast levels afforded by LED TVs actually work to exploit any clouding and "flashlighting" issues that may be present. In the case of this Vizio CCFL TV, its lower contrast ratio actually makes for a picture that is, overall, far more uniform.
As a consumer who feels as though truly solid values are becoming increasingly difficult to come by, I have to say I'm very, very happy with my purchase of this Vizio TV. It's a great HDTV with fantastic 3D at an incredible value. Highly recommended.
Update: The TV is still working to my expectations. I have noted that, on occasion, the Vizio Internet Apps will act a little wonky (won't start or exit), requiring a second (or third) press of the respective button on the remote. I've also noted a minor uniformity issue that affects the TV's picture only when the majority of the screen is white or near-white; there are three VERY slightly darkened vertical "bars" that run down the center of the screen. They're so faint that I'm fairly certain they've been there the whole time and that I simply hadn't noticed them until recently. They're not bad enough to be considered a deal-breaker, so I'm still very, very happy with my purchase and I would still recommend the product to even my very best friends.