Vizio M601d-A3R 3D LCD HDTV Page 2

The Vizio’s Smooth Motion Effect mode lets you adjust the level of motion interpolation you want to apply to remove blur from fast-moving images. All three presets (High, Medium, and Low) appeared to have the same result, however, bumping motion resolution up to somewhere around 1,080 to 1,200 lines but also adding a generous dose of soap-opera effect (SOE) in the process. Since SOE makes movies look like they were shot with a handheld video camera, there was no option here but to switch off Smooth Motion Effect for all of my viewing.

2D Performance
Woody Allen has been in the news lately (not for the better), so I figured my Vizio test would be a perfect opportunity to check out his latest, Blue Jasmine. Great film, and the Blu-ray looked very good on the M601d-A3R. The set did an impressive job conveying late-afternoon light in the outdoor scenes that take place in and around San Francisco. For example, in a sequence where Jasmine and her new boyfriend drive out to the country to shop for antiques, shadows looked long and deep, and there was a wide range of earthy hues in the surrounding landscape. Skintones of the actors in these scenes also looked very natural.

The Vizio’s handling of dark material like Man of Steel was similarly impressive. In the sequence where the pod carrying the infant Kal-El hurtles through space toward Earth, the set’s strong contrast helped to emphasize the moon’s crisp, white surface against the black background of space. And in a scene that takes place many years later, when the boy Clark’s adoptive father shows him the same ship, there was a decent amount of shadow detail visible in the gloomy background of the barn where it was stored. I didn’t see any overt sign of blooming caused by the TV’s Smart Dimming feature other than on black-on-white title credits. If there was blooming, it wasn’t bad enough to be distracting.

3D: Passive-aggressive
To check out the Vizio’s 3D performance, I put on a pair of passive glasses and played some scenes from Hugo. The picture was reasonably bright for 3D and had good contrast. I did see a few instances of ghosting, however, which is unusual in a passive 3D TV. There were also some instances where I could see the texture of the screen’s film pattern retarder that the Vizio uses to filter the respective left/right 3D images for each eye. That’s something I usually don’t see on passive 3D sets from my customary 8-foot viewing distance. (All passive-glasses 3D sets use pattern retarder technology, which can sometimes become visible as closely spaced horizontal lines depending on the size of the set and your distance from the screen.)

As I soldiered on with the 3D version of Man of Steel , the picture had good 3D depth, particularly in a scene where the flashlight-wielding Lois enters a tunnel leading to the alien ship that Clark is exploring. One thing that annoyed me, however, was that the set’s Smooth Motion Effect was switched on by default for 3D content, with no apparent way to turn it off. For that reason alone, I wouldn’t recommend the M601d-A3R to someone who plans to use it for much 3D viewing.

As with many other LED-backlit LCD TVs, the Vizio’s contrast shifts to a certain extent when viewed from an off-axis seat. It didn’t look bad at 15 degrees to either side from center (about the span of a typical sofa), but things paled pretty quickly beyond that. The set’s screen is also fairly reflective: I saw a good amount of screen glare during daytime viewing with lights on—definitely more than with the last LED-lit TV I tested (the Toshiba 58L7300U).

The not-very-expensive M601d-A3R offers excellent contrast and picture uniformity, along with fault-free video processing. Its main weaknesses are slightly inaccurate color and unimpressive 3D. That said, most of the Blu-rays I watched on the Vizio looked great, and I had no cause for complaint during the many hours I logged watching the Winter Olympics with it. It might not be 4K or OLED, but for a basic 60-inch LCD, Vizio’s M601d-A3R combines high value with very good performance.

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