Vizio VW42LF Review
Model: Vizio VW42LF LCD HDTV Complete Model #VW42LFHDTV10A
Reviewer: Robert Wiley
Vizio founder and CEO William Wang has done a fantastic job of gaining market acceptance in the U.S. discount retail market. Models such as the VW42LF are selling at brisk pace at some of the nations largest retailers. Vizio is now the number 3 seller of LCD TVs in the U.S. behind Sony and Samsung. The VW42LF is a new 3rd generation 42" LCD 2008 model with some improved features over previous models. Please read below.
PICTURE QUALITY RATINGS: 77/100
Test and Optimum Viewing Distance: 11 feet
720p/1080i/1080p High Definition Picture Quality: We used the outstanding new high def release of The Fifth Element for our testing in High Definition resolutions. Edges were clean post calibration and I felt the TV had a clear presentation with HD content. However, the LCD has a greenish/yellow caste that is ever-present and affects skin tones negatively. Response rate time appeared to be an area of concern with fast moving scenes during the film taking on a jerky appearance. I would contend that the response rate time for this LCD is not as robust as the 7ms the company lists. Occasionally the Vizio picture looked washed out during bright scenes. The 1080i picture image also appeared much too flat and less realistic in color presentation. I expect a much more 3-dimensional effect when viewing high def. One impressive note was that there was no light bleed into the black bars top and bottom the picture image.
Response rate time appeared to be an area of concern with fast
moving scenes during the film taking on a jerky appearance.
Up conversion/Video Processing from 480i: We viewed the original Spiderman DVD release to gauge how effective the LCD upconverted from 480i. This Vizio LCD has a stellar video processing/scaling chip set and comb filter that really up convert well from low end signals. There was still a little background noise in some scenes but it was slight. There was pixel flicker visible from less than 6 feet in a few cases, but overall the scaling and processing component of the Vizio LCD was very impressive. With our HQV Video Resolution Tests, the Vizio VW42LF performed very well with little noticeable “jaggies." There are two drawbacks during 480i playback. The first is the aforementioned slightly greenish/yellow caste to the images and flesh tones. The second is off angle viewing mentioned below. Contrast degrades more quickly with a 480i signal at 30 degrees or more angles than with a high definition signal.
This Vizio LCD has a stellar video processing/scaling chip set
and comb filter that really up convert well from low end signals.
Black Level/Contrast: The Vizio VW42LF had challenges showing a true black with a 480i signal, blacks and dark matter appeared washed out. This issue improved significantly when viewing a 1080i or 1080p signal.
Motion Lag: The Vizio VW42LF displayed considerable motion blur and jerkiness - evident throughout motion-oriented images even with 1080p signals.
Dark Shadow Detail: The hazy effect the Vizio TV produced with lower end signal decreased detail in dark scenes. The backlight for this LCD TV is strong and can wash out dark shadow detail if tuned too high. Keep it low from 22 to 32 depending upon the room light. Dark Shadow detail is a considerable weakness with this LCD TV.
Color Rendition/Color Accuracy: The Vizio LCD calibrated close to D6500K – the optimum color temperature for viewing film playback. However, when viewing video content I was distracted by the green/yellow overcast on much of the programming we viewed. Flesh tones appeared sickly in some cases and without a rich complexion.
Viewing Angle/Off Axis Viewing: With a 480i input signal the Vizio LCDs Contrast and Black Levels begin to degrade at a mere 25 degrees – a poor performance. At 45 degrees the viewer has lost around half the contrast in the picture. The viewer really needs to be straight in front of this HDTV to see its full picture quality.
False Contouring/ Mapping: The Vizio LCD performed well in this category with no negative mapping effects points to note.
FEATURES RATING: 78/100
Aspect Ratio Sizing Considerations: The Vizio LCD has 4 aspect ratio modes which must be accessed from the menu – normal, wide, panoramic, and zoom. The Wide mode will be preferred for most programming. We experienced slightly noticeable horizontal stretching with most content in Wide mode.
Inputs: The Vizio VW42LF LCD has 2 HDMI inputs, 2 Component inputs and also contains a VGA 15 pin input. There is no firmware upgradeable input USB port and no SD card slot.
Aesthetic Considerations: I like the new all black design from Vizio over the two tone black with silver bottom speakers from past models. The high gloss black frame and stand of the Vizio VW42LF is attractive. The undermounted speakers have the patented V shaped design. The framing bezel is 1.7 inches on top and about 2 inches on the sides. For those purists that can’t stand any light reflection from the framing bezel, this model is not for you as the gloss bezel reflects light.
Remote Control: The Vizio remote is a good size, gloss black, has no backlighting, and incomplete functionality. It does not have an aspect ratio button. The user must enter the menu of the LCD TV to change this function. The Vizio remote is a failure in many regards.
Menu functionality: The Vizio VW42LF LCD TV does not have discrete picture settings for different inputs, which can be a major drawback. Finding the Wide menu option in the set up portion of the menu is not easy, but this must be done to change the aspect ratio. The menu is easy enough to navigate, though there are no on screen instructions directing the user to press the right arrow key to change menu settings.
Audio Output: The Vizio’s 10W X 10W speakers sound tinny, distant, and hollow. I was not impressed. There was little bass as well.
Extra Features: The Vizio VW42LF LCD has very limited extra feature options. It does contain 3 HDMI inputs, and it does have separate adjustments for fine tuning red, green, blue color control. But there are several missing features such as discrete input control settings ( a feature that you don’t realize you need until you do not have it), more functionality on the remote control, freeze options, SD card slots, firmware upgradeable USB port and so on.
VALUE RATING: 85/100
There is plenty of competition in the 42" 1080p resolution flat screen TV category. This Vizio 42" LCD can be found at large retailers for around $999. Competitive brands with this LCD 42" with 1080p resolution are Samsung, Toshiba, and Sharp, which range from $1200 to $1450 in price. So this Vizio is very competitive at around $200 to $400 less than some top tier models. Picture quality aspects and other considerations put the unit in a very average placement in value ranking due to some the problem issues mentioned in those sections above.
OVERALL RATING: 79.25/100
Rating scale from 70 (denoting poorest quality) to 100 (signifying the very best quality). A rating in the 60s for any particular category of a product review indicates a serious defect which causes the product not to operate properly. Picture quality is double-weighted in the Overall Rating Score calculation.
Review Equipment Used: Sony Blu Ray BDP-S1 High Definition DVD player, Sony Playstation 3, Sony DVP-S50 DVD player, JVC HM-DH40000U HD Video Cassete player, Sencore Color Pro 5000, Sencore Auto Cal Pro, Sencore signal generator.