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VIZIO  XVT553SV 55-Inch 240 Hz TruLED LCD HDTV with VIZIO Internet Application, Black

VIZIO XVT553SV 55-Inch 240 Hz TruLED LCD HDTV with VIZIO Internet Application, Black

Manufacturer: Vizio, Inc.
List Price: $1,899.99
Street Price: $1799.99
Amazon.com: $1,899.99

Today’s Show:

Vizio XVT553SV LCD HDTV Review

Order Now, $1900
With football season just around the corner you may be in the market for a new HDTV to watch your favorite team try and make it to the Superbowl. We’ve seen a few technologies come and go and each of them try to produce a picture that’s as good as plasma. The latest is LED. The Vizio XVT553SV will run you about $1900 for the 55 inch version and its loaded with all kinds of goodies that we can finally say that Plasma may have finally met its match.

Features:

  • VIA – VIZIO Internet Apps™
  • Built-in Wi-Fi 802.11n Simultaneous Dual-Band Wireless
  • Customized Bluetooth Universal Remote Control
  • TRULED™ Full Array LCD HDTV with Smart Dimming
  • 240Hz Refresh Rate
  • 1080p Full HD
  • SRS TruVolume
  • EcoHD

The Vizio XVT553SV is a beautiful TV. Fit and finish is quite good. Vizio has come a long way in this area. Its gloss black finish will look good in any room that its placed in. Its a direct back lit LED so its a bit thicker than some of the slim edge lit TVs you can get on the market. Don’t let that affect your decision, the TV is just under 3 inches (~7.6 CM) thick.  Because the TV is direct lit it can use local dimming to increase contrast ratio and create deeper blacks. The LED array is comprised of 120 zones.  Vizio has done a great job with the connectivity aspect of the TV as well. More on that later.

Setup

HDTVs are more complicated to setup when compared to their old analog counterparts but Vizio has made setting up the 553 simple. The first time your TV fires up as setup application is automatically launched takes you through the setup procedure for the Bluetooth remote control, how to connect to the Internet, add channels (if applicable) through its built-in tuner, and connect source components and program the remote control to operate those components. All told plan on an hour here. No so much for actually performing the tasks but to play around once you get it up and running. By the way, having a full QWERTY keyboard makes tasks like joing a wifi network much easier!

Our TV was connected to a switching receiver for Blu Ray, Sat TV, and a Mac Mini. With the Internet connection the 553 had access to Vudu, Netflix, and web based videos as well.

Performance

This was another area where we were pleasantly surprised. Out of the box the TV produced a beautiful picture when on standard or movie modes. But when we calibrated it (see settings at the end of the review) it really shined. Colors were vibrant and daylight scenes were exceptional. It was like looking through a window to the world. If you like sports this TV will produce a clear sharp picture that will bring out all the subtle details of anything you are watching.

Dark scenes that usually lose detail were no problem for this TV either. ViZio use the useless Dynamic Contrast Ratio in their specs so we won’t quote that here. What we found was that the TV could reproduce subtle differences in the picture that our DLPs couldn’t. The screen is less reflective than glass we still found it necessary to limit the light in the room to enhance the darker scene detail. You will want to make sure to use local dimming. Local dimming is what allows the TV to produce deep blacks. We wonder why the option to turn it off even exists.

Blu Ray movies looked spectacular. Vibrant colors sharp deatil and natural looking skin tones made the experience better than going to a theater.  We watched in both 24 fps and 60 fps modes and found video to be smooth regardless. It could have been a function of the content we were watching (Band Of Brothers, Spider Man, and Close Encounters) but we didn’t see any real difference between the two modes. If you can see judder and you have a Blu Ray player that outputs 24 fps you will be pleased with watching Blu Ray movies on this TV.

The TV produces a uniform brightness across the screen. This is something that edge lit LEDs have trouble with. With edge lit screens the luminance is brighter at the edges. Because of the direct LED array the Vizio can produce better contrast and thus more detail especially in the darker scenes. We did not see any blooming while watching regular HDTV programming however, while watching letter boxed content there we a minor amount of light bleeding into the black at the top and bottom of the screen. Not really an issue for normal viewing. Off angle viewing is good and close to plasma performance.

VIZIO Internet Apps (VIA)

We’ve talked about Internet enabled TVs for about a year. We’ve not been too keen on any implementations however. That has changed with Vizio Internet Apps. The main reason for the change is the remote control. With the slide out full QWERTY keyboard, entering data becomes straight forward. The keyboard connects with the TV via Bluetooth and takes a little getting used to but it works well. In fact this remote is the first one that we recommend over the Harmony. I think we see a new model in Harmony’s future. Until Harmony come out with a compatible remote you’ll need to keep this around.

The apps are where this TV really adds value. Netflix works well and we found the picture to be as good as the Xbox 360, which we thought had the best Netflix picture. Amazon HD looks and sounds great as well. Same for Vudu. But what we thought was incredible was that all this content was coming to us via wifi. Many look at Internet connected TVs and say big deal, I don’t have a network connection near my TV. With the Vizio its not a problem. We had a solid connection and did not see any skipping due to network congestion.

Apps loaded quickly and were usable. The Facebook and Twitter implementation looked like it belonged on the screen, not just an afterthought. If you have a computer phobic loved one in your family this might be the easiest way to get them on Facebook. If you like looking at pictures of friends and family this TV is a great way to view them in a family format. The apps include:

  • Netflix
  • NBA Game Time
  • Amazon Video On Demand
  • WikiTV Encyclopedia
  • Ebay
  • Flickr
  • Pandora
  • Rhapsody
  • Twitter
  • Vudu
  • Yahoo Widgets

Bottom Line

Vizio has come a long way since the early days of HDTV. Ara was set on buying a Plasma before he spent some time with 553. The performance is almost what you would expect from a plasma without the issues of degrading black levels. Throw in functional and more importantly usable Internet Apps in a 55 inch package for less than $2,000, we feel buying this TV is a no brainer!

Calibration Settings:
Picture Mode – Move
Backlight  - 15
Brightness – 50
Contrast – 49
Color – 47
Tint – 0
Sharpness – 3
Color Temperature – Normal
Red Gain – 125
Green Gain – 128
Blue Gain – 120
Red Offset – 123
Green Offset – 128
Blue Offset – 125
Smooth Motion Effect – off
Real Cinema – off
Noise Reduction – off
Color Enhancement – off
Adaptive Luma – off
Film Mode – Auto
Smart Dimming On
Ambient Light Sensor – off

Download Episode #440


Posted by The HT Guys, August 26, 2010 11:22 PM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.