Posts Tagged ‘HDTV’

TiVo’s Got A New Box Up Its Sleeve

Last night, TiVo held a coming-out party for the TiVo Premiere, the latest in a series of DVRs that can receive and record content from cable, terrestrial, and broadband TV.

The event, held atop Rockefeller Center, featured CEO Tom Rogers bantering with 30 Rock’s Kenneth the Page (Jack McBrayer) while Rogers listed the new functions and menu designs. The “premiere” of Premiere wasn’t a very well-kept secret – some Best Buy employees leaked specs and pricing information in late February.

Tom Rogers gives us the skinny on TiVo’s Premiere. Ironically, Rogers used to be an NBC executive!

What was significant about the event was the announcement that cable overbuilder and MSO RCN will offer Premiere as an option to its customers. TiVo’s DVR, although a great product in design and execution, has long suffered from a lack of content delivery partners.

At one time, the company had a partnership with DirecTV, but that went by the wayside. Partnering with RCN, even though the latter is a small player in the world of cable TV, will help drive acceptance and sales considerably.

The Premiere – which actually comes in two flavors – is a slimmer, sleeker version of the current Series 3 and HD DVRs, both of which will be discontinued. The basic Premiere offers 45 hours of recording for $300, while the XL version triples that capacity to 150 hours for a couple hundred extra dollars.

TiVo’s Premiere DVR is even thinner than the TiVo HD.

As configured, Premiere offers a ‘triple play’ of terrestrial, cable, and broadband video recording and playback. (Sorry, no DirecTV or Dish support!) There is a single M-style CableCARD slot which allows bi-directionality for video on demand (VOD) services. But Premiere isn’t ready to replace tru2way yet…not that the latter bi-directional cable platform has been setting the world on fire exactly.

Wireless connectivity is based on 802.11n protocols, and you can link Premiere with older Series 3 and HD units to share recorded shows and files on the same home media network. TiVo has also added broadband content sites Pandora and FrameChannel (over 1,000 widgets and counting) to existing Netflix, Blockbuster on Demand, and Amazon services. (Sorry, still no connections to Hulu!).

For the first time that I know of, Adobe’s Flash player has been incorporated into a set-top box (hey, who puts these things on top of TV sets anymore?). Premiere makes extensive use of Flash in its menus and video preview windows.

There are also new Search parameters that take you more quickly to a given actor’s resume, lets you search by such arcane topics as “Oscar-nominated movies,” and in general lets you REALLY drill down to find out everything you want about a particular TV show or movie, and the people who directed and acted in it.

Premiere’s new mernus make extensive use of Flash.

TiVo also showed its latest remote controls that incorporate a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Those readers who have suffered with the directional arrows and Select button to type in keywords for program searches should be deliriously happy with that development!

Here’s the new QWERTY remote. Hooray!

I’ve had TiVo service since 1999, and just retired my first Series 1 Philips DVR, which had enough capacity to record a whopping 14 hours of standard-definition TV. (It still works, even with the dial-up phone connection for program guide info!) I also have a pair of Humax Series 2 combo DVD/DVR boxes sitting in hibernation, now that Comcast has gone all-digital.

So I’m looking forward to test-driving a Premiere and seeing how it compares to my workhorse TiVo HD, which records both digital cable and terrestrial HD signals and has downloaded several TV shows in HD from Amazon’s Unbox service. Look for a review later this spring when TiVo starts shipping.

Best Buy will be the exclusive brick-and-mortar retail outlet for Premiere, and it will also be available from Amazon. The Wireless-N adapter will start shipping in May.

Don’t ask this guy to program your Tivo, though…

Wal-Mart Buys VuDu. What does it mean?

On Monday, February 22, Wal-Mart announced it was buying the movie download service VUDU.

The announcement, which was a bit of a surprise, nevertheless makes sense in light of Wal-Mart’s 2009 decision to downplay in-store sales of DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Now, Wal-Mart can deliver HD-quality movies directly to a variety of compatible TVs and media players, including LG’s new BD590 player/DVR.

According to a Business Week story, a VUDU executive said he expects the VUDU platform to be integrated into more than 150 TVs and related AV products in 2010. This is significant because VUDU picture quality tends to be higher than iTunes and Netflix streaming video. In fact, many VUDU movies can be downloaded in the 1080p/24 format for true HD playback.

VUDU’s original set-top box

This move also pits Wal-Mart directly against Apple, Amazon, and Netflix as demand for digital downloads of TV shows and movies heats up.

So – what does that mean for packaged media sales? DVD sales continued their slide last year, falling off 13% from 2008, according to Adams Media Research. Even the Blu-ray format hasn’t proven compelling enough to reverse this trend, which many analysts still blame on the economy.

I’ve got three more sensible explanations. First off, DVD rentals are still hanging in there, which means more consumers have decided they really don’t need to buy every movie or TV show boxed set out there. Renting once is just fine, particularly if you have a $1-per-night Redbox DVD kiosk in your local grocery store.

Second, there just aren’t that many memorable movies out there from recent years that are worth owning. And if you’ve already accumulated RL or BD copies of the ‘classics’ plus some boxed sets here and there, why continue to fill up your shelves with more DVDs that will likely still be sitting in their original shrink wrap a year later?

Third, it’s pretty clear that the public is captivated by broadband video. That includes video-on-demand over cable, Hulu, Netflix streaming, Amazon digital downloads, and YouTube.  Granted, mailing Netflix and Blockbuster movies back and forth is pretty convenient (although Netflix spends hundreds of millions of dollars per year to make that happen!).

But pointing your remote at the TV and downloading a movie or TV show is even more convenient (and cheaper for Netflix). And if you have access to thousands of movie titles and TV shows at the click of a button, why do you need to fill up your shelves at home with DVDs you might watch one time, then consign to a garage sale or your local library?

Wal-Mart is betting that you don’t, and that direct downloads are what you crave. And they want a piece of that action.

Ten Steps To Set Up Your New HDTV Without A Calibration

Just bought a new LCD or plasma TV? Did the dealer try to talk you into a calibration? You may not need it.

The concept of calibrating TVs goes back to the early 1990s, when video guru Joe Kane began raising public awareness of just how bad a TV picture could look out of the box…and just how good it could look after some careful re-tuning of adjustments buried in each set’s service manual.

Over time, a new industry based on TV and projector calibration took hold and expanded, following the transition away from CRT-based TVs and projectors to fixed-pixel displays, including LCD and plasma TVs and LCD, DLP, and LCoS projectors. Installers took two-day classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) in setting up various TV and projector parameters, plus the AV components connected to those displays.

After passing these course, participants were certified as calibrators and went out into the world of home theater to tune up everything from stand-alone TVs to complete theaters equipped with multi-channel surround sound systems.

In recent years, THX has also gotten into the fray, offering their own series of classes on calibration. They offer training and certification in both display and audio system calibrations, going head-to-head with ISF.

So…do you need to pay for a calibration on your new flat screen TV? Chances are, you don’t. Given that most LCD and plasma TVs measuring 50 inches or less are now selling for about $16 to $17 per diagonal inch, it may not even make sense to spend several hundred dollars on a calibration.

Here’s why. TV manufacturers aren’t completely deaf, and after being hounded by calibrators for years, they have finally started adding pre-calibrated picture modes  to their TVs that are close in performance to what a calibration would produce.

These preset modes, which often go by the names “Movie” or “Cinema,” set the color temperature at about 6500 degrees Kelvin, produce a gamma between 2.2 and 2.4, and set peak brightness between 100 to 120 nits (29 to 35 foot-Lamberts).

If your new set has such a mode, selecting it will probably be all you’ll need to do. If not, you may be able to get ‘in the ballpark’ with these tweaks. They’re based on my own observations after calibrating and testing hundreds of TVs over the past two decades:

(1)   Set up your new LCD or plasma TV where you’ll watch it.

(2)   Reduce ambient light levels so that you don’t have excessive glare or outside light spilling onto the screen.

(3)   Turn on the TV. Connect an antenna, or your cable/DBS/FiOS box and tune in a TV program (preferably, an HD program).

(4)   Using the remote control, turn on the TV’s picture adjustment menu. Find and exit out of the factory “Dynamic” preset picture mode to the Movie or Cinema mode mentioned above. Can’t find it? Select another mode, such as Standard, Normal, or User. Make sure that mode lets you set color temperature and other tweaks.

(5)   Set the contrast control below 80 (this sets your white levels).

(6)   Then, set the brightness control between 50 and 60 (this sets your black levels).

(7)   Select WARM or LOW color temperature from the menu. (If more than one LOW setting is available, use the lower of the two.)

(8)   Turn the sharpness control to 0. If you see any white outlines or ‘ghost’ edges around objects or people, continue lowering the sharpness control until those outlines vanish. Cable news channels with fixed “tickers” and logos are great for spotting edge enhancement artifacts.

(9)   Locate and turn off any image enhancements in the picture adjust menu that carry names like “dynamic contrast,” “automatic black levels”, “black level enhance,” or “auto picture level.” If there are adjustments to play with colors (skin tones, etc) make sure they are also disabled.

(10)  If your TV has a memory function to save your settings, use it now to memorize the settings you’ve chosen. Repeat these steps for any other inputs on your TV, such as DVD and Blu-ray players.

You will notice a few things right away about your TV. First off, images won’t be nearly as bright and glary, but they will appear to have a more natural look. Image will also appear ‘warmer’ to your eye. Black levels will seem deeper, too. Zeroing out the ‘sharpness’ setting won’t make HD programs look soft, by the way. They’ll just look normal.

OK, you’re in the ballpark now…not ‘dead on’ accurate, but you’ve corrected most of the image quality problems on your new TV. You can sit back, relax, and watch.

If you’re a bit fussier, then pick up a calibration DVD and get even closer. There are numerous calibration DVDs offered for sale (Google them), but the best deal might be the GetGray DVD (http://www.calibrate.tv/). It sells for a donation of $25 and has the most useful grayscale and color test patterns you’ll need. (Note that this is not a HD disc, only SD. But it should get you where you want to go.)

Reflections On a ‘Super’ Bowl

It’s the day after the biggest football game of the year, and the New Orleans Saints pulled off a miracle, beating the odds and those ‘smart’ talking heads to upset favored Indianapolis, 31-17.

Unlike past years, I had a small group of friends over to watch the game in HD. And unlike past years, I didn’t stuff the house with HDTVs and projectors to create an immersive football environment.

And that was just fine by me.

Way back in 2000, when the Titans – Rams clash was televised in HD by ABC and Panasonic, the subject of HDTV was rocket science to my neighbors. You couldn’t get it on cable, or from DirecTV. The only place to find HD broadcasts was from your local TV station…and that took an outside antenna, an expensive set-top box, and a wing and a prayer.

For that game, I set up a Princeton AF3.0HD widescreen CRT monitor (an ugly and bulky cuss, if I ever saw one) in my family room, and Sony’s VPL-VW10HT 768p LCD projector in my basement, driving a Stewart 82-inch matte screen. A single Panasonic TU-DST51A set-top box pulled in the signals from a Radio Shack UHF yagi, mounted on my rear deck.

With each successive year, the number of TVs grew…and grew…and grew.  We had LCD HDTVs, plasma HDTVs, DLP projectors, CRT projectors, and 3LCD projectors. Antennas were mounted on the roof, in the attic, along inside walls, and on that same rear deck.

Coaxial and video cables snaked all over the house. TVs popped up atop the refrigerator, in the bathroom, in the front hall (viewed from inside a closet!), on the rear deck, and even outside the front door.

The record for attendees was 70, in 2009. The record for TVs was 14, set the year Indy won it’s first Super Bowl and equaled last year. After that game, I decided to pull the plug on an ‘official’ HDTV party and keep it simple. After all, there’s no real mystery in HDTV anymore – you can buy a 32-inch LCD HDTV at Kmart for $300 nowadays!

This year’s party, which came together at the last minute, featured six screens, two of which are permanently installed. Panasonic’s TH-42PZ80U 42-inch 1080p plasma entertained guests in my family room, while Mitsubishi’s HC6000 1080p LCD projector lit up a JKP Affinity 92-inch screen in my theater.

A couple of 50-inch plasma monitors were hooked up in the living room and main theater, while Eviant’s T7 portable DTV sat atop the refrigerator and functioned as an air check monitor. As has been the case every year, all of the RF feeds came from roof-top and indoor antennas – no cable or satellite feeds were used.

And that 6th TV? Turns out that we actually got enough snow on Saturday to cover the lawn for the first time in 11 years…and it didn’t melt. So, I took a Canon SX80 MKII LCoS projector and aimed out it a second-floor window at a very steep down angle. Then, I hooked up a spare Samsung DTB-H260F DTV tuner to my house RF system.

Voila! I was now projecting HDTV onto the front lawn, using snow as a screen. The projected image had some keystoning issues, to be sure. But it still looked cool. I figure the size of the projected images was about 15 feet diagonally. And having 3300 lumens from the projector really helped punch up the brightness!

Here’s how the Canon SX80 was mounted. Talk about steep angles!

(For any ISF guys reading this, I used the Cool color temperature setting…naturally!)

 

Surprisingly, there were no 3D broadcasts during the game. I was ready if there were, though – I still had a pile of anaglyph 3D glasses left over from 2009 (remember the Monsters vs. Aliens trailer and the Pepsi SoBe commercials?) Some of this year’s commercials were entertaining, many were forgettable.

But the real story was New Orleans’ dramatic, come-from-behind win, a real feel-good result for that beleaguered city. The HD slow-mo replays were awesome, in particular the one that conclusively proved the Saints had gotten a crucial two-point conversion in the 2nd half. And The Who’s halftime show was one of the best in memory – it rocked out!

Our house was loaded with Saints fans, some sporting ‘Who Dat?’ T-shirts and wearing strings of colorful beads. The eats included jambalaya and pork barbecue, with Hurricanes do drink on the side. And my hat’s off to one guest who managed to bring back the original Café Du Monde beignet mix and whip up a batch of those tasty treats for us.

So…no more extravagant Super Bowl parties from now on. Just some good food and a couple of TVs (OK, maybe three, or five, or six) on which to enjoy the action.

And if Fox decides to carry the game in 3D next year, I still have those glasses…

Vizio VF551XVT LED LCD HDTV

As prices of flat-screen HDTVs continue to plunge, you can point the finger at one company in particular for influencing that trend: Vizio. The aggressive discounter has become a dominant player in LCD HDTV sales, capturing the #1 position on more than one occasion and sticking it to established stalwarts like Sharp, Sony, and Samsung.

First getting started with wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club, Vizio is also in Wal-Mart and Sears. Taking a page from Samsung, the company advertises extensively during the fall football season. And its lineup of TVs covers all of the bases from a $200 19” LCD model to three 55-inch 1080p LCD sets, the most expensive of which is $2,199 and the subject of this review.

Vizio’s VF551XVT will naturally get lots of attention for its super-low price. The fact that it has an LED backlight and incorporates 240Hz motion processing will only attract more attention. And yet, its narrow viewing angle impaired the viewing experience for me.

Figure 1. Vizio’s VF551XVT is the company’s first LCD TV to use an LED backlight.

OUT OF THE BOX

The VF551XVT comes ready to play, out of the box. Simply unpack it and find a suitable flat surface to set it on – the stand is attached. (Vizio also offers a white glove delivery service for a few extra dollars.)

You’ll get plenty of inputs, as is usual with Vizio. The rear panel contains four HDMI 1.3 jacks, one of which also comes with analog audio inputs for connection to older DVI-equipped DVD players and set-top boxes. There’s also a component video input, a PC input (VGA jack), and one each composite and S-video jacks with analog audio.

On the left side, you’ll find a fifth HDMI 1.3 connector, plus another component video input and a second composite video input. (Question: Why are manufacturers of large 1080p LCD HDTVs including composite video jacks at all, let alone two of them?)

Figure 2. You won’t lack for connections on this TV. How do five HDMI inputs sound?

An optical Toslink jack on the rear panel provides a digital audio hook-up to an external home theater receiver, and there are also analog stereo audio output jacks. For TV viewing, the VF551XVT includes a single F connector, which can pull in either terrestrial (ATSC) digital and analog TV stations, or analog/digital cable channels that haven’t been encrypted.

Vizio has also included an USB port for listening to and watching a wide range of portable media files, including MPEG4 (H.264 AVC), Windows Media 7/8/9, MPEG2, AAC, MP3, and JPEG still images. These external flash drive connections are actually quite popular with consumer, particularly for showing home video or digital photographs!

REMOTE AND MENUS

The supplied remote is a great design, with just the right number of buttons that are large enough to operated without reading glasses. It’s also backlit for darkened rooms. You can select banks of inputs by pressing one of four smaller buttons and then toggling through the choices.

Figure 3. The remote is stylish and well laid out.

The menus are well designed, and navigation through them is quick and easy. For the average viewer, you can select one of nine factory picture presets, all of which can be altered. The differences between the sports-themed presets (Football, Golf, Basketball, and Baseball) are almost insignificant, and you have to wonder why Vizio included so many. The good news is, you can tweak all of them to your heart’s content.

Vizio has also incorporated a host of image processing adjustments under the Advanced Video sub-menu. For more detailed calibrations, Vizio has included four color temperature presets (Normal, Custom, Cool, and Computer), plus red, green, and blue contrast and brightness adjustments.

Heads up – if you want to calibrate the TV (or have someone else do an ISF calibration), you’ll need to leave all of the image enhancements off, particularly the color enhancement, adaptive luma, and smart dimming – a feature that adjusts the brightness of the image dynamically to improve blacks by controlling blocks of LEDs.

The white LEDs – 960 of them, divided into 80 blocks – can provide instantaneous dimming to lower black levels in dark scenes while raising them in bright scenes. In theory, that should result in very high contrast ratios…except that highlights are also dimmed as black levels drop, and that makes for some screwy gamma curves.

120Hz LCD TVs are pretty commonplace now, but their effectiveness in reducing motion blur is debatable. Vizio has moved to a 240Hz system, deriving that frame rate by a combination of partial black frame insertion with a scanning (switching) LED backlight. The control for it is labeled Smooth Motion, and has three settings, plus off.

The audio menu is pretty conventional, but does include a handy lip sync adjustment to correct for audio latency errors – a technical problem you’d think would be rare, but pops up more often than it should. SRS TruSurround sound is also included in the VF551XVT, as is SRS’ TruVolume peak limiter. This latter processor keeps you from being blasted out of your chair by a loud commercial after a relatively quiet program.

ON THE TEST BENCH

I found most of the factory picture settings for the VF551XVT to be way too bright, and a quick check with my calibration tools confirmed that observation. Factory set brightness modes are in the range of 430 nits, or 126 foot-Lamberts. (That’s tanning lamp territory!) For everyday viewing, you’ll want to crank back the contrast, brightness, and backlight setting considerably to avoid eyestrain. Yes Virginia, there is such a thing as too much brightness…

I selected Normal mode and calibrated the VF551VXT for best dynamic range, a job that is not at all easy since you have both an adjustable backlight and contrast and brightness settings to deal with. Eventually I chose a peak brightness value of 140 nits, which works out to a very-bright 41 foot-Lamberts. The backlight was set right in the middle, at 50.

As I mentioned earlier, all image enhancement or processing settings were turned off for calibration. Even so, it was quite a job to determine what “black” was! With the backlight set too high, “black” is a pretty washed-out gray. Set it too low, and overall image brightness suffers. (After calibration, the lowest average black level I measured was .265 nits, which is about three times higher than a typical plasma TV.)

My initial calibrations resulted in some extremely steep gamma curves measuring close to 3.0. Normal video gamma would be between 2.2 and 2.3, so I had to play with both the brightness control and backlight to find that elusive combination of low grays that gave me a normal gamma, but preserved shadow detail. After several tries, I produced the somewhat inconsistent gamma curve seen in figure 4 – it averages out to a 2.3 value.

Figure 4. Here’s the final gamma curve for the VF551XVT. It’s a little bumpy.

Figure 5. The VF551XVT tracks a given color temperature nicely above 20 IRE.

Contrast measurements were decent. Using a 16-block checkerboard, I measured average (ANSI) contrast at 481:1 and peak contrast within the same test pattern at 589:1. A sequential contrast measurement came to 528:1 – lower than the peak contrast ratio. How is that possible?

Simple – the VF551XVT’s brightness uniformity varies noticeably across a full white test pattern. Taking nine measurements across the screen, you’ll se a variation of about 8% from the highest to lowest reading. Go into the corners, and the difference is as much as 15%.

Color temperature also shifts by quite a bit over that same full white screen. I measured a shift of 634 Kelvin from lowest to highest readings, and that was in two adjacent screen areas. Measured at the center, the VF551XVT tracks a tight grayscale around 6500 Kelvin, as seen in Figure 5.

Now, about the visual “flaw” I mentioned at the start of this review: Like all LCD TVs, the VF551XVT has issues with brightness uniformity over wide viewing angles. On this TV, you will notice that black levels on different parts of the screen increase dramatically with small changes in horizontal and vertical viewing angles, and that’s not good.

The variation in black levels isn’t consistent across the screen. I noticed this immediately while displaying a small area white window test pattern. As I moved my chair left to right from the dead-center “sweet spot”, the opposite screen section started to wash out and become noticeably brighter in areas that should have been black.

The same effect was seen watching nighttime scenes from CSI and Flash Forward – and it was very distracting. With most LCD TVs, as your viewing angle shifts off-axis, the entire screen starts to wash out. Instead, on the VF551XVT, you’ll see “hot” corners, sides, or large portions of the screen as you move slightly off-axis.

To me, that is a major problem as not everyone gets to sit in the best seat in the house. And the best seat has a small viewing “sweet spot” of about 30 degrees. Move beyond that, and you’ll clearly see the changes in black and low gray levels – something you will never see on a plasma TV. (Too bad Vizio stopped selling those!)

I’ll conclude my test bench results by stating that the VF551XVT produces a color gamut that is somewhat larger than the BT.709 standard HDTV gamut, with blue, red, and green all oversaturated. Color management tools would help pull these color points back in and more closely match the desired coordinates, as seen in Figure 6.

Figure 6. The plotted color gamut of the VF551XVT, compared to the BT.709 standard.

IMAGE QUALITY

This TV produces extremely sharp images that are rich in detail, no matter whether you are looking at a Blu-ray disc or an over-the-air broadcast. I selected scenes from Mission Impossible III to evaluate the judder-correction circuits and also to look at low-level image detail. For motion blur, I watched the Cowboys-Eagles Sunday Night Football game, carried over the air in the 1080i HD format from NBC stations WNBC-DT in New York and WCAU-DT in Philadelphia.

MI III is a great BD for crunch-testing deinterlacing circuits. Start with the Vatican reception scene in Chapter 8 and that famous shot of the camera zooming back as it pans down the closely-spaced stairs; a shot that drives deinterlacing circuits crazy. The VF551XVT handled it with ease.

Turning on the TV’s Smooth Motion processor will reduce the film judder to zero, producing more of a live video feel than film. Vizio’s blur reduction approach is more effective than any 120Hz correction circuits I’ve seen to date, but not as detailed as the few 240Hz processors I’ve checked out. Is this good? Bad? Depends on how much of a film purist you are.

The subsequent kidnapping of bad guy Philip Seymour Hoffman and the destruction of the Lamborghini looked spectacular. But the underground scenes lacked detail in dark areas, a direct consequence of those high black levels. Once again, moving ever-so-slightly in my seat resulted in the washed-out screen effect, which is as distracting to me as DLP color wheel breakup artifacts.

Figures 7a-b. These photos clearly show the off-axis brightness uniformity problem as seen from two different angles.

The football game fared much better (unless you are an Eagles fan), as the average picture level was above middle gray even in the darkest areas. I paid particular attention to close-ups of moving players as the sideline camera panned with them across a busy background. Not only is this an image blurring challenge, you’re also likely to see MPEG blocking artifacts (I did) which are just as much a challenge to filter out without softening the image.

The VF551XVT did a good job here in preserving image detail. Just a slight amount of blur was seen on the tightest shots and fastest zooms, some of which probably originated in the camera itself. So the 240Hz circuit works. It’s still not as crisp as a plasma display, but a big improvement over all of the 120Hz processors I’ve tested.

On the other hand, go lightly on the MPEG noise reduction as it does soften the image slightly. MPEG noise is difficult to eliminate completely – it’s embedded in the digital signal and the only way to minimize it is through expensive, powerful image processing, or through low-cost, high frequency filtering. That’s the approach you’ll find in this TV.

CONCLUSIONS

There’s no question about it – for $2,200, you get a lot of TV with plenty of inputs and calibration options. All Vizio TVs are ‘plug and play’ and you can turn it on and start watching with minimal adjustment. Five HDMI ports may be more than you’ll ever need, but where’s the Ethernet connection for Internet video viewing? (Better yet, where’s the wireless Ethernet hookup?)

While the VF551XVT is a nice job by Vizio in most respects, the off-axis image washout was a real turnoff. You’d never see this problem on a plasma TV, and it reminded me of watching rear-projection TVs – you had to sit right in the center to get the best image quality. Keep that in mind before you decide to buy one.

Power consumption: The VF551XVT operated for four hours in Standard mode with the backlight set to 50, displaying widescreen and HD broadcast content. Average power consumption during that time was 169.1 watts.

SPECIFICATIONS

VIZIO VF551VXT
55-inch LCD HDTV
MSRP: $2,199

Specifications:

Dimensions: 51.5″W x 35.9″H x 13.47″D with stand
Weight: 90.25 lbs w/stand
Resolution: 1920 (H) x 1080 (V)
Backlight: Direct Type LED Backlight Technology with Smart Dimming – 960 LEDs (80 control blocks)
Inputs: 2 composite, 1 S-video, 2x YPbPr component, 5x HDMI, 1x VGA, RF
Receives: ATSC, NTSC, unscrambled QAM
Compatibility: NTSC/PAL, VGA-XGA, 480p, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Speakers: 15 Watts x2 (multi-speaker systems)

VIZIO
39 Tesla
Irvine, CA 92618
888.849.4623
www.vizio.com