Vizio P50HDTV 50-inch Plasma HDTV
With silver, bottom-mounted speakers, shiny black bezel, and side-mounted controls, the Vizio P50HDTV 50-inch plasma HDTV looks just like its 42-inch sibling, which we reviewed in our May 2006 issue. Like the P42, it has a built-in tuner for pulling in over-the-air digital TV broadcasts, and there's also Faroudja DCDi for deinterlacing duties. A relatively sturdy (for a 50-inch model) plastic stand comes with the TV, and you can order Vizio's optional $90 stationary wall-mount, or a tilting version for only 10 bucks more - a good deal either way you slice it.
Inputs on the P50HDTV include not one but two HDMI jacks (the standard on new bigscreen HDTVs these days, but still surprising on a budget model), a VGA connection for hooking up a computer, and component-, composite-, and S-video jacks. There's no CableCARD slot for tuning in encrypted premium-cable channels without a separate cable box, but you can receive both regular analog and unencrypted digital cable by plugging into the set's antenna input.
Vizio's remote control is sturdy and has a clean button layout. The buttons are small, however, and there's no backlighting, making it hard to locate a specific control when the lights are dimmed. Picture-in-Picture, Freeze, and Zoom controls are grouped at the remote's bottom, and directly above them is a set of five direct-input keys for switching sources quickly - a useful feature. The Wide button lets you toggle between the TV's Normal (4:3), Full (16:9), Zoom, and Panoramic display modes, all of which can be selected for both standard and high-def signals (except Panoramic, which is available only for 480i programs).