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Vizio VF552XVT LCD/LED TV Review

Model: Vizio VF552XVT
Description: 55" LED LCD TV
Resolution: 1920 X 1080
Power Consumption: 150W
Reviewer: Robert Wiley
Summer 2010

Vizio VF552XVT Review

While Vizio often promotes itself as "America's #1 LCD HDTV Company," we are quick to point out that this is sometimes the case with unit sales of LCD TVs, but not total revenues. The reason for the difference is that many of Vizio's top selling models are very small inexpensive TVs. Within the 55" LCD category the company faces some tough competition.

The new VF552XVT from Vizio has the latest and greatest features that the company hopes will keep Vizio competing with the Tier 1 manufacturers. This series has LED local dimming backlighting, a 240Hz refresh rate (listed as 480Hz but that is back light manipulated spec), and a new black drive system. And this model also contains a new Bluetooth remote control and Internet functionality options. This is the second tier feature and price offering from Vizio for 2010/2011, the XVT Pro series Vizios are the step up from the XVT series.

Test and Optimum Viewing Distance: 15 feet

The Vizio VF552XVT calibrates well to D6500. The TVs governors allow for extremes within the tuning spectrum so it's important not to push contrast and brightness too far. Click here for proper post calibration TV picture settings.

Vizio VF552XVT Review
The VF552XVT did a very nice job with HQV processor testing with little distortion as with this shot from our Video Resolution Loss test

HQV Processor Testing: Internal video boards are strong on the VF552XVT. We were impressed with the processors ability to smooth out distortion and prevent moire' patterns. See testing results here.

HD Picture Quality: The two problems that we had with viewing content from HD sources was 1) the picture presentation was overly dark (post calibration), causing dark areas in dark scenes to run to black with no definition and 2) image edges were continually blurry which surprised us considering the inbuilt processors. This occurred no matter what back light setting we used. Judder and jerky side to side panning were problems when turning off the Smooth Motion feature but worth keeping it off in general. The negative effects from the TVs elimination of natural background blur are the problem with the 240Hz feature. See below 240Hz rate feature evaluation. The LED backlighting occasionally introduced some negative effects by reducing shadow detail in the top corners of some scenes.

Black Level/Contrast Ratio: Black levels appear saturated and sometimes take out shadow detail or take the color out of a dark hue. Occasionally, blacks take on a dark charcoal appearance.

Vizio VF552XVT Review
Cops from the 480i version of Superbad shows saturated uniforms taking on a black rather than navy appearance and without much definition.

480i Video Content (cable, DVD): Picture quality from 480i and similar resolution appeared soft and blurry around the edges as did all content on this HDTV. HQV processor testing yielded very good results for the XVT series indicating an excellent internal chip set. There was no banding or mapping apparent. There was judder and jerkiness in many scenes both in 480i and HD from side to side panning as we were forced to turn off the Smooth Motion 240/480Hz rate feature due to unwelcome background information.

Vizio VF552XVT Review
An excellent shot from the 480i DVD version of Sphere shows punchy blacks and good contrast.

Dark Shadow Detail: This is perhaps the toughest issue for the SV552XVT as it struggles to maintain detail in dark scenes from a post calibrated picture setting – especially in the top left and right corners of the screen.

Color Rendition/Color Accuracy: We did not note oversaturation of color information after proper calibration. However, color shift will occur in this TV at higher contrast and brightness settings. Keep them reasonable.

Vizio VF552XVT Review
A good shot of Matt Damon in The Departed shows slightly washed out flesh tones.

Viewing Angle/Off Axis Viewing: We almost always find that viewing angle is better on local dimming LED back lit LCDs than any other form of LCD. The VF552XVT is no exception. Contrast does not degrade significantly at angles and begins to shift at about 30 degrees. Though not as good as plasma TVs in this category, the 552XVT has closed the gap some.

LED Back Light Evaluation: The Vizio VF552XVT has local dimming controlled LED back lighting which can be a feature enhancement. When testing with a static lit gray screen there was obvious displayed lighting irregularities around the side edges of the screen in a rounded arc formation. Back lighting seemed more concentrated to the center of the screen. As a result, content scenes when there was dark material in the top corners of the display, shadow detail suffered. Overall brightness from the LED back lighting seems plenty sufficient, however color shift will occur when turning it up over 45%.

Motion Blur: We did not note any motion blur with the Smooth Motion 240Hz feature turned on. There was jerky motion effects when turning it off. See below a review of this feature.

False Contouring/ Mapping: Due to excellent internal processor chip set there was no mapping, grouping, banding or the like apparent in either HQV testing or video material.

One of the biggest upgrades in this years Vizio top end lineup is the addition of Internet applications flickr, Netflix, Pandora, Yahoo video, Vudu, and NBA Gametime. This a nice diverse selection and has better functionality than many of the proprietary Internet options with other manufacturers.

240/480HzHz Rate Feature Evaluation: Vizio calls their back light manipulated 240Hz rate feature Smooth Motion. They claim that manipulation of the LED local dimming backlight increases the spec to 480Hz. It's of no matter. As with most LED/LCD TVs, there are unintended adverse consequences of this feature which eliminates natural background blur during scenes with motion. Sony, Sharp and Toshiba models are the exceptions. The unwelcome effect typically occurs when the scene is changing from static calm to side to side motion. It can be most distracting and we recommend turning the feature off for film based content and using it on the Low to setting for sports and other fast motion programming. Unfortunately, when turning the feature off judder and jerkiness when panning side to side will be apparent.

To access the Smooth Motion setting:

  • Click on Menu and scroll down
  • Click on Advanced Video scroll down
  • Click on Smooth Motion
  • Keep on Low to Off setting

Video Aspect Ratio Sizing: Zoom 1 &2, 4:3, Panoramic, Stretch Mode. 1:85:1 DVD source material will use Stretch mode which did a reasonable job of interpolating.

Inputs: 4 HDMI inputs (1 on the side), RGB PC input, 2 Component, USB port, lacking Ethernet port.

Aesthetic Considerations: Though the VF552XVT is a hefty 4.5" deep it does at least have nice thin bezel framing at only an inch around the screen. The finish is gloss black and there is a metallic silver accent under the Vizio logo. The included gloss black table stand does not swivel side to side.

Vizio VF552XVT Review
The VF552XVT is a hefty 4.5" deep but has a nice thin gloss black frame.

Remote Control/Menu Funtionality: The VF552XVT includes the upgraded Bluetooth remote that contains a slide out keyboard – cool feature. This innovation is mainly for use and practical for the TVs Internet applications. The buttons on the remote are on the small side. The P.input button scrolls through input options if you can find the button. The menu system is plenty adequate and the accompanying manual is very informative, though it is not available through the TV's menu.

Audio Output: Sound volume output from the 15W X 15W speakers was impressive as was the virtual surround effects and definition. It's nice to see a manufacturer not over look speaker quality as it is so important for those that do not choose to implement their own surround sound system.

At $1899 or $1999 this 55" LCD/LED comes in at a fairly strong value point. The addition of some high end features like good Internet options, Bluetooth remote functionality, and the SmoothMotion 240Hz feature is fairly substantial for this price point in 55 inches. The Smooth Motion 240Hz feature will work well with sports programming and the LED local dimming back lighting will allow for good side angle viewing and bright lights while adding some irregularities elsewhere. Competition comes from the Samsung UN55C6300, the Samsung UN55C7000, the LG 55LE5400 and 55LE5500, and the Sharp LC-52LE700UN.

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 DVP-S50 DVD player, Sencore Color Pro 5000, Sencore Auto Cal Pro, Sencore signal generator.

This review format and all of the headings, sub headings and paragraph titles are part of a copyrighted process. Any unauthorized reproduction or use, either in full or in part, of this product review format is expressly prohibited.

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