Vizio XVT3D580CM 3D LCD HDTV page 2

Vizio’s printed manuals have long been among the best in the business, and that remains true here. The remote is a chunky affair with a slide-out keyboard for use with the set’s Internet features. Apart from the lack of backlighting, I had no issues with it.

The Vizio’s Internet offerings include most of the usual suspects, including Hulu Plus, Amazon, Vudu, Facebook, Pandora, and news, weather, and sports sites, and far too many more to list here. While there are Web videos, there is no YouTube selection. The picture on several Hulu Plus trailers was good, though as is typical with HD streaming, they fell short of Blu-ray quality.

The Vizio uses passive 3D glasses. Four pair are included with the set; extras are available at $20 each. The set’s 3D controls are limited to choosing 2D or 3D and the manual selection of the appropriate 3D mode if the set fails to switch automatically, as it should. There is no 2D-to-3D conversion mode.

The single 3D picture mode may be calibrated separately from the 2D modes. But, when the set switched to this 3D mode upon encountering a 3D source, the picture settings did not switch automatically to the 3D settings I had calibrated into it earlier. I had to manually reset the controls to the 3D settings. Later, when I switched back to the 2D Movie mode, the 3D settings I had manually entered were still there, and I again had to manually reconfigure the controls, this time back to the 2D settings. Fortunately, I had previously written down my preferred settings for both 2D and 3D.

On Screen
The Vizio’s video processing was a bit less than optimum. The 2:2 HD failure is common (but not universal) among the sets we’ve tested. The MA HD test stumbled because of flickering in some areas of the otherwise well-handled test pattern. And the failure to pass the highest burst chroma resolution pattern isn’t unusual—in fact, some designers deliberately roll off chroma slightly to avoid other problems.

There were also two other issues unrelated to the set’s actual video performance. The screen is highly reflective, which may concern some potential buyers. And after a few hours of use, the set’s otherwise decent sound was accompanied by a clearly audible buzzing from the rear that sang along with the source audio. Again, it’s impossible to know if this was endemic only to our early sample.

The set’s compelling combination of outstanding detail and smoothness—the latter likely due to its increased pixel density, at least on 2.35:1 films—belied the loss of chroma resolution described earlier. On one such movie, The Dark Knight, I sensed a slightly oversharpened image on some facial close-ups, even with the Sharpness control at its zero setting. But on other ’Scope films—Baraka, The Hunger Games, and Star Trek—this obvious sharpening disappeared, suggesting that the Vizio may have simply revealed a trace of enhancement in The Dark Knight’s transfer.

The Vizio’s picture lightens as you move off center, an effect typical of LCD sets. This became obvious at about 25 to 30 degrees and turned progressively worse beyond that. If you sit close enough, even dead center, you’re far enough off that the visible black levels at the sides appear lighter than at center screen. This is a separate issue from the screen’s inherent black-level uniformity due to its edge lighting, which is among the best I’ve seen.

But apart from that off-axis issue, the CinemaWide’s black-level performance was good. Not fantastic, and not as good as the best plasmas or fully backlit LED local-dimming LCDs, but satisfying. Scenes with low internal contrast (few or no bright highlights) were sometimes touched by a slight graying-out, particularly at the sides, and starfields weren’t overly impressive. But on most material, the black levels were effective enough to keep me absorbed in the action.

Even pre-calibration, the Vizio produced subjectively satisfying color, though it didn’t measure particularly well (see HT Labs Measures). Post-calibration, however, the gray scale was immaculate. The color gamut wasn’t perfect, but it was close enough that I doubt if a color management system would have made a significant visible difference. The color was vibrant where it needed to be and subtle where that was appropriate. Both fleshtones and green foliage (the most obvious giveaways of poor color, since we see them nearly every day) were always believable, given a reasonably neutral source.

The Vizio performed beautifully in 3D. Passive 3D produces a horizontal line structure in the picture. This originates in the special screen layer (the patterned retarder) that makes it possible to use passive glasses. But here those lines were nearly invisible. They were easiest to spot in credits and other lettering but otherwise merely lent a subtle graininess to the image in comparison to the set’s ultra-smooth 2D performance. Passive glasses technology also reduces the vertical resolution by half, but the 3D images from this set were so crisp and detailed, I hardly noticed. And with the Backlight control at maximum (100), the set produced a peak 3D white level of 20 foot-lamberts (compared to the 33 ft-L I used for 2D viewing). At this level, 3D images popped brilliantly, enhancing their already impressive depth. Crosstalk (3D ghosting) was also a non-issue; I spotted only one possible hint of it in a wide sampling of five different 3D films. If 3D is your thing, you’ll love this set.

Comparisons
Compared to the more expensive Panasonic TC-P65VT50 plasma ($3,700; Home Theater, October 2012), the Panasonic clearly pushed ahead in near-black, low-contrast scenes. On more typical material, however, the Vizio’s superior combination of smoothness and detail were clear—though the Panasonic was hardly chopped liver in these respects. (In my review of the TC-P65VT50, it was visibly sharper than my last-generation, 60-inch Pioneer Kuro.)

The Panasonic offers more thorough color calibration adjustments than the Vizio, and there were slight color differences between the sets. But they were small enough to be of no concern to most buyers. The Panasonic, not surprisingly, won the off-center viewing sweepstakes going away. And while I didn’t do a direct A/B in 3D (with different glasses, that’s impractical), the Vizio has the clear edge in 3D brightness.

When a 16:9 source is displayed in mid-screen on the Vizio, you’ll get an image size of just under 46 inches, diagonal. The Panasonic offers a significantly larger (65-inch diagonal) 16:9 picture, and with a 2.35:1 source, it’s also 3 inches wider than the Vizio. But widescreen films on the Panasonic will still have those inescapable black bars at the top and bottom, and though they will be very dark, you’ll still be conscious of them. Only you can decide which set of strengths best fits your viewing priorities.

Conclusions
In overall picture quality, the Vizio CinemaWide can stand up to the best of the competition. It doesn’t dominate in all parameters, but it does something that no other does. Losing those black bars with a ’Scope film gives the Vizio XVT3D580CM a significant psychovisual advantage over its more conventional competition.

Yes, we uncovered some issues in this early sample that make our recommendation more measured than it might otherwise be. But they had little effect on the set’s actual performance on real-world program material. If movies are your thing, sit down and watch a 2.35:1 film on this HDTV. Like me, you may well be instantly captivated. The Vizio CinemaWide deserves a long, careful look. There’s nothing else quite like it.

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COMMENTS
chilipalm's picture

Did you try connecting a PC via HDMI out to the TV to see if it will output the native resolution of the TV?

maj0crk's picture

Nothing said about stretching a 16:9 TV image to fill the ultra-wide screen. Or is that capability there?
I've yet to see this set in any store, including Vizio's favorite Wal Mart. Is it still an internet-only purchase?

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