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Vizio E420i-B0 (E420) Review

42" 1080p Full-Array LED Smart TV

by , Senior Reviewer

Vizio E420i-B0 LED TVVizio's entry level lineup of LED TVs has seen a major upgrade for 2014, and they still are offered at an entry level price. The E420i-B2 is a full-array LED TV with 5 zones of active dimming for enhanced contrast. Vizio Internet Apps Plus is also included in the E series for the first time. The internet enabled E420i-B2 is priced in the mid $400 range with a price difference of around $30 for the non-internet E420 configuration.

This TV comes in two variants. The 'E420i' has the Vizio Internet Apps Plus features while the 'E420' does not. Everything else about these TVs is the same. Make sure you are looking at the model you are expecting to get.

“I was surprised by a couple of no-brainers that we have not seen from a branded TV in some years: noise from the TV and aspect ratio problems”

Strengths

  • Very thin bezles compared to last year's models
  • Lightweight build makes this one easy to move or wallmount
  • The picture after a much needed calibration was very pleasing, not counting aspect ratio issues
  • Each picture mode has very strong qualities
  • Built-in speakers produce plenty of volume to fill a room
  • Black Detail option in the picture settings increases black saturation as well as creates more contrast

Weaknesses

  • A clicking noise from the fan can be heard when the TV is off
  • High pitch hum produced from the display when the TV is on
  • Aspect ratio issues with standard def programming could not be properly addressed
  • Side angle viewing isn't great, but on par with other LED TVs
Vizio E420i-B0 LED TV
The E420i-B0 has a good quality picture after calibration. This still from the Troy blu-ray shows good picture depth and detail. Color reproduction is on the weak side, but not terrible

Picture and Viewing Features

The Vizio E420i-B2 is loaded with picture features that really boost the picture quality. The full-array LED backlighting achieves much better peak whites and deeper blacks than seen on previous versions of the E series. Colors are also going to benefit from this backlighting scheme, as there will be less washout and uniformity issues. Vizio cites this TV as having an Effective 120Hz refresh rate. This is really just a result of the 180 Clear Action Rate backlight scanning. It does prevent a good deal of judder and motion blur, but may produce negative effects in some circumstances. It is probably better left off for movies and regular TV programs.

Picture Quality Rating: 84/100

The E420i-B0 can't compete with a plasma display in terms of picture depth and color, but it can't really be beat when it comes to value. In darker scenes it can get a bit flat and blacks can seem to have a haze over them interfering with overall immersion. Color seem a tad bit washed out and leave a little more to be desired.

Black levels end up being somewhat flexible thanks to the Black Detail option in the Advanced Picture Settings menu. It provides a much needed contrast boost which gives the picture a more three dimensional quality. Colors pop a bit more too. This is a case where I made a rare exception and use the Black Detail on the high setting. Normally, we would have such a setting off.

Vizio E420i-B0 LED TV
This is a shot from an HD broadcast. Detail and sharpness are high points here while color seems a bit lacking

The Film Mode does cut down slightly on judder from movie-source programming with no noted side effects. We're typically sceptical of this type of de-judder feature but on the Vizio e-series the effects are subtle enough to be of good use.

Side Angle Viewing, better than expected especially with the Black Detail setting on high. Nevertheless , there is contrast reduction starting at around 20 degrees off center, but becoming pronounced at 30.

Aspect Ratio Choices and Quality

Here is the aspect ratio issue we addressed earlier in the review. Normal, Wide, Stretch, and Zoom modes are controlled by the diminutive "wide" button on the bottom left of the remote face. Make sure you look out for that as many remotes label it as P. size or something a little more helpful. With HD programming your normal and wide selection will appear the same and of course there is no problem with this aspect rendering. The following pics from Nat Geo Wild show what your choices will look like with normal non-HD cable. The order is:

Vizio E420i-B0 Wide Aspect Ratio
Wide: Obviously you will have bars left and right as well as top and bottom, but everything is sized perfectly without distortion. You just lose half the screen space!

Vizio E420i-B0 Zoom Aspect Ratio
Zoom: Looks decent but the picture is stretched vertically too much and is not proportional. As well, you are losing some of your picture top and bottom, notice the NBC logo

Vizio E420i-B0 Normal Aspect Ratio
Normal: This is your 4:3 format picture. Wide aspect almost took off as much on the side bars as 4:3.

Vizio E420i-B0 Stretch Aspect Ratio
Stretch: As you can see you get the full width but the algorthmic scaling leaves a lot to be desired. His face is not even close to being proportional. It's much more evident with faces on the left or right side of the screen.


Picture Modes and Calibration

Choosing the best picture mode for the E420i-B0 is extremely important and Vizio provides some strong choices: Standard (energy saving mode), Calibrated, Calibrated Dark, Game, Computer, and Vivid. The calibrated and calibrated dark modes are the best choices with only the backlight strenght being the difference between the two. Calibrated mode will probably be the choice mode for most situations as the dark shadow detail and full backlight give the picture some needed punch. Overall, I am very pleased with the selection of picture modes, especially the two calibrated modes for this price point of TV. From Calibrated Mode use the following settings for calibrated picture settings:

Picture Settings

Advanced Picture

Backlight: 90 Auto Brightness: Off
Brightness: 54 Black Detail: High
Contrast: 91 Smart Dimming: On
Color: 54 Reduce Signal Noise: Low
Tint: -1 Reduce Block Noise: Low
Sharpness: 30 Film Mode: Off

OPC Control Setting

The OPC (Optimum Power Control) control is very hidden in the menu of the E-series Vizio TV, but it can and should be turned off due to the distracting influx and outflow of light/brightness produced by the backlight. Out of the box, it will be set to On position for any of the preset picture settings. When I recently retested the e-series from Vizio I found it added unnecessary picture noise when light flow moved up or down lagging the picture image. The OPC's purpose is to save energy by manipulating the backlight through the 18 backlight zones, or probably more accurately to lower the Energy rating for Vizio's TVs. But at less than $1 a month total, and just a few cents per month for the OPC feature, you probably prefer a better picture. To turn it off: Go to Picture Settings, scroll down to More, Scroll down and click Advanced Picture at he bottom of the menu, this will finally bring up the Backlight Control as the very last setting. Turn Off.

Features Rating: 83/100

Vizio Internet Apps Plus

The Vizio E420i has the Vizio Internet Apps Plus platform included. The built-in wifi allows for instant access and plenty of speed for HD content streaming. The 'Plus' in the name means the interface is much more user friendly and the overall performance is faster than before. Some of the most useful apps included are Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, VUDU, MGO, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Facebook. There are plenty more too.

Vizio E420i-B0 Streaming Netflix
The Netflix app works wonderfully on the Vizio Internet Apps Plus platform

The Smart TV gets good marks as far as performance goes. There were a few initial hiccups in the set up process, but all was smooth once we got past those and connected to our wifi network. Streaming content loaded up quickly and provided a high quality image over wifi. This is a big plus since not all smart TV platforms handle streaming so well.

Vizio E420i-B0 Streaming Netflix
This still from House of Cards displays decent picture depth and contrast levels. Getting to the Netflix app only involves a single button press

Appearance and Design

Vizio E420i-B0 LED TV Design

The E420i-B0 has also recieved some upgrades to the appearance. The bezels are now slimmer than they were last year, at a mere 10mm thin. Not bad for an entry level set. The profile has also seen a reduction of 30%. These aren't nearly as bulky as they have been in the past. The black plastic square stand is nothing special, but it doesn't take away from the sleek look here. All in all, this is an average looking value LED TV.

Value Rating: 93/100

The Vizio E420i-B0 presents a solid value across the board. Picture quality for the $450.00 price tag is excellent. Strong contrast and picture depth from front and center is the highlight in the picture quality realm. Vizio Internet Apps Plus don't do anything new for the platform, but everything works well and doesn't leave much to be desired. Some downsides are a non-backlit remote, 2-point white balance, and a non-swivel stand. But these are dealbreakers by any means.

Overall Rating: 87/100

Standout Features

  • Full HD 1080p
  • Diagonal Screen Measurement: 42.02"
  • Full Array LED Backlit
  • 6 Zones of Active LED Dimming
  • Speaker output: 10W x 2
  • 802.11n wifi built in
  • 10mm thin bezel for frameless appearance
  • 3 HDMI, 1 USB inputs


Jack Burden Jack Burden has been reviewing and writing reviews in the consumer electronics category for 7 years with CEAG. He considers grayscale gradation, film patterned retarders, and focus field drives to be fun topics. Read more about Jack




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