The Design

What makes the VIZIO VF55 unique is that instead of fluorescent backlighting, it uses 960 LEDs in 80 groups (they call them control blocks). Each group can vary its brightness independent of the other groups. So, where part of a scene is dark, the LED group behind that part of the scene dims. Where the scene is bright, the LED group there becomes bright. The result is much better contrast and deep, deep blacks. In fact, it can go to absolute black (LEDs turned off).

Secondly, this model has a refresh rate of 240 Hz. Actually, it is 120 Hz, but the backlight flashes on and off twice for each refresh. The result of this is no obvious flicker (the human eye cannot detect the image turning on and off 240 times per second), but more importantly, VIZIO has developed "Smooth Motion Technology" which interpolates additional frames in between actual frames. It looks at a particular frame, plus the next frame coming, and does its interpolation to produce an additional frame in between. So, instead of a scene where the camera pans appearing to move in jerks (at 24 frames per second, there is noticeable distance in the scene between each frame), the pan is smooth. The technology started appearing in high end video processors a couple of years ago, but the cost was high. Now, you can get it at consumer-affordable prices (I remember when a 55" 720p plasma was $5,000).

The front panel is semi-gloss rather than highly reflective, so in a bright room, you don't see objects in the room being reflected off the screen.

There are five HDMI inputs - four on the rear and one on the side - as well as two sets of component video inputs, one S-Video, and one composite video. There are also stereo audio output jacks and a USB jack for viewing snapshots from your camera.

This is not one of the new "Ultra-thin" HDTVs, but it is still thin enough to mount on a wall if you mount speakers to the side and one underneath for the center channel.

The remote control is nicely laid out, with a good tactile feel, with buttons of different shapes, and is backlit.

Other features include the ability to adjust the backlight independent of the brightness, which gives flexibility in obtaining the optimum black level that you prefer for viewing, various picture modes (standard, movie, game, vivid, football, golf, basketball, and baseball), Noise Reduction, Color Enhancement (reduces oversaturation in certain colors), Adaptive Luma (reduces the bright areas - especially useful at night in a completely darkened room), Smart Dimming (improves black areas), Color Temperature (RGB at high IRE and low IRE are individually adjustable), Smooth Motion (interpolates one frame in between each two actual frames), Film Mode (detects film sources), 5-Band Audio Equalizer, TruVolume (keeps the volume from going up when a commercial comes on), and Lip Sync (keeps sound synchronized with the video).