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Reviewed with Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer
By Heath McKnight

I'm a big fan of "America's number 1" LCD HDTV provider, VIZIO, and its wide range of home entertainment products. I've reviewed two previous LCD HDTV models (a 42-inch and a 47-inch), but I wanted to review something bigger and better. And I got the opportunity with the monster 55-inch XVT LCD HDTV, which has an incredible picture and sound. Speaking of sound, I am also reviewing VIZIO's very cool Sound Bar with wireless subwoofer which gives fantastic sound, even if it isn't comprised of five or seven speakers.

The 55-inch XVT LCD HDTV

VIZIO's XVT series of HDTVs offer some pretty cool new features, and the 55-inch LCD HDTV model I reviewed (the VF550XVT1A) doesn't compromise on those features. They include:

  • Full 1080p HDTV (believe it or not, the best TV size to view 1920 x 1080 high definition is with a 50- to 60-inch HDTV)
  • 120Hz, though I usually try to keep this option off. What it does is it doubles the Hz of 60i/30 frames-per-second (fps) video (60Hz), and while great for sports and video games, it makes normal TV and movies, usually shot in 24p (24 fps), look very strange. But it's up to you if you want to keep this option on
  • Smooth Motion Technology (I turn this off for the same reason as above)
  • SRS TruSurround HD and SRS TruVolume, which produces great audio from the HDTV's speakers
  • 50,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio, which just keeps getting better

To truly appreciate an HDTV like this 55-inch monster, you really need to be viewing Blu-ray Discs (also known as BDs). HD content you'd see on Cable or over satellite is highly compressed versus BD, though you can tell a difference between SD (Standard Definition) and HD content on cable or satellite. So I like to plug in my BD player with some terrific HD movies to show off an HDTV's picture and sound. And there are four HDMI connections to plug in all the devices you may own that have HDMI, including gaming devices, movie download devices like a VUDU (which I also used to test), HD video cameras, and so on.

Right now, my favorite BD to test out HDTVs is "The Dark Knight," especially during the scenes shot in IMAX (the image will suddenly fill the entire TV and you can see an improvement in quality), such as the opening scene with the bank robbery, some of the establishing/skyline shots, the scene where the Joker tries to kill Dent in the back of the police truck, etc. The colors really pop in those scenes and the images are truly breathtaking, especially on the 55-inch TV.

The sound coming out of the HDTV alone is fantastic, but obviously much better with the Sound Bar, which I'll cover more later. I don't have to turn the volume all the way to max when playing a disc, whether it's DVD or BD.

Of course, HD and SD programming over satellite or cable still looks pretty good on the VIZIO as do SD DVDs and especially content via VUDU (www.vudu.com), one of my favorite electronic devices to download and watch rented or purchased movies. I highly recommend watching those films in HD or HDX to really get the most out of the XVT HDTV and the VUDU.

Of course since it's such a large HDTV, if you're in a small space or apartment, you may want to consider a 42-inch VIZIO. You won't be able to fully appreciate the larger display if your couch or chair isn't very far from the HDTV.

Sound Bar With Wireless Subwoofer
Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect from the VIZIO Sound Bar with wireless subwoofer (there's another version without the subwoofer that costs $199). It's essentially a three or four foot long audio "bar" with an accompanying subwoofer. I plugged it in (you have the option of analog or S/PDIF) and watched both TV and movies on my BD player and VUDU device.

I was very impressed with the sound, especially since it isn't the usual set-up with five or seven speakers. Those are real pains-in-the-neck to install and get working. Lots of wires and cables going everywhere. With the Sound Bar audio is superb and resonates well with DVDs, BDs, TV programming, gaming, etc. "The Dark Knight" on Blu-ray sounded exceptionally good, as did "Iron Man" on DVD.

And it's using the same sound technology as the XVT; SRS TruSurround HD and SRS TruVolume. Plus, you can put the wireless subwoofer up to 60 feet from the Sound Bar, though I don't have any room to test the distance. Besides, I liked having it close to the Sound Bar and the HDTV. There's also a remote which controls pretty much everything with the Sound Bar and subwoofer.

The 55-inch VIZIO XVT HDTV (now available with an LED option) is a great option if you're looking for your first or new HDTV. The price starts at $1,999.99 for the non-LED version. The Sound Bar with wireless subwoofer is another terrific and affordable product from VIZIO and produces fantastic sound. It's priced at $349.99. Find out more at www.vizio.com


Size: 55"
Viewable: 54.64"
Native Panel Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels
Signal Compatibility: Supports 480i (SDTV), 480P (EDTV), 720P (HDTV), 1080i (HDTV), 1080p Video Signals
Colors: 1.06 Billion
Computer Support: 640x480, 800x600, 1024x768, 1920x1080 via VGA and HDMI 
Dynamic Contrast Ratio: 1400:1 (Typical), 50,000:1 (w/Mega DCR)
Brightness: 500 cd/m2 (typical)
Response Time: 5ms
Viewable Angle: 178 (horizontal and vertical)
Pixel/Dot Pitch: 0.5415mm (H) x 0.5415mm (V) 
SRS TruSurround HD(tm): Yes
SRS TruVolume(tm): Yes
SRS TruSurround XT(tm): No

HDMI with HDCP 4
RF Connector for Internal Tuner 1
Component YPbPr plus Stereo Audio:  1
S-Video: 1
Computer RGB: 1
Composite Video: 1
USB Ports:  
Service Ports:  

HDMI with HDCP 1
RF Connector for Internal Tuner  
Component YPbPr plus Stereo Audio:  1
Composite Video: 1
Computer RGB:  
USB Ports: 1 (Service Only)
Music (MP3): 
Video (MPG): 
Photo (JPEG): 
Service Ports:  

SPDIF Digital Optical: 1
Stereo Audio: 1

Refresh Rate: 120Hz
Smooth Motion: Yes
Picture-in-Picture (PIP): Yes
Picture-outside-Picture (POP): Yes
Zero Bright Pixel Defect Guarantee: Yes
V-Chip: Yes
3D Comb Filter: Yes
3:2 or 2:2 Reverse Pull-down: Yes
ATSC with 8VSB & QAM demodulation: Yes
ATSC with MPEG-2 decoding: Yes
NTSC Video decoding via Video: Yes, thru CVBS, S-Video, or Component 
Progressive Scan Video: Yes, thru Component YPbPr, VGA or HDMI 
Color Temperature: 6500K (standard), 5400K and 9300K
Color Fine Tuning: Independent Red, Green and Blue
Speakers: Built-in 2 x 15W Speakers
Panel Lamp Life (typical): 50,000 hours
Voltage Range: 120Vac at 50/60 Hz
Power Consumption: 244W average 
Universal Remote: VIZIO Remote Control - VUR8P

Gross: 104.2 lbs 
Net With Stand: 86 lbs 
Without Stand: 73.8 lbs 

With Stand: 51.5" W x 36" H x13.5" D 
Without Stand: 51.5" W x 33.9" H x 5.0" D
Packaging Dimensions:  

CERTIFICATIONS CSA, CSA-US, FCC, Bets-7, AV Safety Certificate 60065 

COMPLIANCES Energy Star Qualified

VIZIO WARRANTY One Year Parts & Labor. Free Lifetime Technical Support. Free On-Site Repair on VIZIO Televisions 30" and above.


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Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.


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