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Vizio E480i-B2 (E480) Review

48" 1080p Full-Array LED Smart TV

by , Senior Reviewer

Vizio E480i-B2 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 E480i-B2 is a full-array LED TV with 6 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 E480i-B2 is available for just under $600.00 with a price difference of around $70 for the non-internet E480 configuration.

This TV comes in two variants. The 'E480i' has the Vizio Internet Apps Plus features while the 'E480' does not. The non-internet version also loses 1 HDMI input. 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 lightweight build with thin bezels for an attractive look
  • A much needed calibration really coaxed a nice picture out of this TV: aspect notwithstanding
  • Strong Picture Mode qualities
  • Pleny of volume from the on-board speakers
  • Black Detail option in the picture settings increases black saturation as well as creates more contrast

Weaknesses

  • Noise issues, clicking fan noise when the TV is in standby mode
  • High pitch whining coming from the display when powered on
  • SD programming suffers from aspect ratio issues
  • Side angle viewing isn't great, but on par with other LED TVs
Vizio E480i-B2 LED TV
The E480i-B2 shows a strong picture after calibration. Contrast and dark area detail are strong suits of this shot from the blu-ray of Troy

Picture and Viewing Features

The Vizio E480i-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 claims an effective 120Hz refresh rate. But it is really just the 180 Clear Action Rate backlight scanning that take care of a lot of the motion blur and judder typically seen in LED TVs of this size. The Clear Action Rate may produce negative effects in some circumstances and is probably better left off for movies and regular TV programs.

Picture Quality Rating: 84/100

The E480i-B2 doesn't render the picture depth of a plasma display, but presents a good picture for the price. In darker scenes it can get a bit flat and blacks can seem to have a film over them interfering with overall immersion. The colors are not what I would call rich either.

Black levels are somewhat flexible with the Black Detail advanced picture setting. It adds some much needed contrast and three dimensionality and colors pop, so I made a rare exception and use the Black Detail on the high setting. Normally, we would have such a setting off.

Vizio E480i-B2 LED TV
Another still from the Troy blu-ray reveals a highly detailed picture and excellent picture depth

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

Normal, Wide, Stretch, and Zoom modes are controlled by the diminutive "wide" button on the bottom left of the remote face. 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 show what your choices will look like with normal non-HD cable. The order is:

Vizio E480i-B2 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 E480i-B2 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 E480i-B2 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 E480i-B2 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 your calibration is extremely important and Vizio provides some nice 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.

Game Mode and Input Lag

Vizio E480i-B2 Input Lag Measurement
Getting to the game mode is a simple change of the picture setting. A 40ms measurement isn't bad at all and will be hard for most to notice

The Vizio E480i-B2 has a dedicated picture mode for gaming. This is for optimal performance when it comes to input lag. The TV responds fairly well in our tests. We measured input lag at 40ms. That's not too bad at all for the average to hardcore console gamer. Shooters, racing, and action games play just fine on this TV. 30ms and below are considered excellent measurements, so this Vizio stands with the best of them. Since the Game mode is its own picture setting, you may have to dial in some of the calibration settings again to get the best picture. Do it once and you are all set.

Features Rating: 83/100

Vizio Internet Apps Plus

The Vizio E480i 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 E480i-B2 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 E480i-B2 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

Standard Remote

The Vizio E-series does not include a remote with any special capabilities. No motion control, voice recognition, or QWERTY keyboard. But that's okay. It's a small remote with efficiently laid out small keys that give quick access to the necessary controls. That's really all we need in a remote after all. The buttons to access video streaming apps quickly will be some of the most used.

Vizio E480i-B2 Remote
The small black remote is clearly labeled with plenty of room for the channel and volume buttons. The number buttons may be a little too small for those with bigger hands

Appearance and Design

Vizio E480i-B2 LED TV Design

The E480i-B2 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 E480i-B2 presents a solid value across the board. Picture quality for the $588.00 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. This TV will stand out as a value model in the highly competitive 55 inch class.

Overall Rating: 87/100

Standout Features

  • Full HD 1080p
  • Diagonal Screen Measurement: 48.0"
  • 120Hz 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 (2 on non-internet version), 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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