- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 05 December 2007
To say that VIZIO owns the flat panel display market right now would be an understatement. And, the reason is simple: the price.
Only a couple of years ago, to get a 50" plasma HDTV, you would have had to shell out about $5,000, even at Costco. Nobody had heard of VIZIO at that time, and the flat panel TVs were all big name brands.
Oh, how things have changed.
VIZIO, a huge company that is based out of Irvine, California, makes their flat panels in Asia, and let's face it, nobody will spend extra money just for the name VIZIO. That is not what they are selling.
Also, I don't know anyone who claims VIZIO makes the best quality HDTVs in terms of the picture. While a Pioneer or Sony is "excellent", the VIZIO is "very good".
But, the average consumer is perfectly happy to purchase "very good" for less than $1,500 instead of paying one or two thousand dollars more for "excellent". That value is why stores are having difficulty keeping VIZIO HDTVs on the shelves, because they are flying off those shelves into consumers' homes. Every week I go to Costco, the TVs seem to be $100 cheaper.
So, with that in mind, let's take a look at the VIZIO VP50 50" Plasma HDTV.
- Design: 50" Plasma HDTV
- Resolution: 1,365 x 768
- Brightness: 1,500 cd/m2
- Contrast: 15,000:1
- Inputs: Three HDMI, Two Component Video, One S-Video, Two Composite Video, One RGB
- Dimensions: 34.2" H x 48.8" W x 12.2" D (3.9" D without stand)
- Weight: 120 Pounds
- MSRP: $1,299.99 USA
The VP50 has a native resolution of 1,365 x 768 pixels. It is a heavy TV, at 120 pounds (including the stand). I guess that is the only drawback of bigger and bigger flat panels, and this thing was a real monster to move around. Definitely ask your neighbor or son to help you put it on a TV table. Don't do it by yourself. I still have aches and pains from a torn rotator cuff in my shoulder from moving a 1,200 watt monoblock power amplifier on my own.
Finally, HDTV manufacturers are putting several HDMI inputs on their models, and this one has three (the version I received for review was an early run, and had only two). Of course, there are component video, S-Video, and composite video inputs as well, but even component video is now considered a "legacy" input, at least as far as I am concerned. And, DVI is history.
Another thing I like about the latest crop of flat panels (and projectors too), is that they look great right out of the box. The VP50 is no exception. I connected the HDMI out from my satellite box (DirecTV) to one of the HDMI inputs on the VIZIO, turned it on, selected HDMI 1, and started watching football games.
The image is bright (31.3 foot-Lamberts), like plasmas tend to be, and the menu allows full control of all variables, such as brightness, contrast, tint, and saturation. You can select a dynamic contrast mode if you like, and I did like it. I used it all the time after trying it out. The image had a lot more snap to it. There are also a number of picture modes to choose from, such as Movie and Game. However, with those modes, menu items like tint and color are not adjustable. In other words, you can only adjust those things in the Custom picture mode, so that is the one I used for all viewing and calibration. This includes the Color Temperature, for adjusting Red, Green, and Blue.
The remote control is the same one that I had for the previous VIZIO HDTV that we reviewed, which was a 47" LCD.
I had no problem setting up the TV. Menus were very easy to understand. I tweaked the tint a bit for various channels and changed the brightness and contrast, but other than that, it did not need much alteration. After calibration, I could see that it was improved, but it was still quite nice even without calibration.
Picture-in-Picture (PiP) and Picture-on-Picture (PoP) are there, but DirecTV has its own built-in PiP when you use the program guide. If you want to have two programs in PiP, you need two tuners in your satellite box.
The built-in amplifier and speakers were among the best I have ever tested, so you don't need to connect the analog audio out to a receiver for listening to most programs. However, for watching movies, of course, you want to use your 5.1 receiver for the surround sound.