I, too, spoke with the fine pre-sales support team at Vizio (where the "hotline" number rings). Of course, the folks there know very little technical details. However, they were able to accurately tell me this display would be released the end of June/Early July as well as wider distribution of the M3D650SV. I thought that was a coup as Vizio is NOTORIOUS for releasing their bigger, more advanced display models a year plus after announcing their existence.
And that, right there, is the crux of my purchasing decisions. The CinemaWide is totally marketed to me. I am the demographic. I, primarily, use my display to watch films. My goal (via calibration, room acoustic treatment, etc.) is to create the best and most accurate viewing environment for these films. 95% of home viewers do not care as much as I do. Okay, this may be an exaggerated number, but it's accurate enough to say this is exactly why they will not have these units in stores: they will not move in the same volume as 16:9 televisions that have their content fill the entire displayable area. This has, always, been the number one concern of the casual viewer. I can't count the number of times I insisted on watching something in "widescreen" when others complained it didn't fill their 4:3 screen. "I hate the bars," they would exclaim. Here we are again.
Thus, I understand their marketing approach. The best strategy they have is to sell direct at a "street" price (which they have done with the "early savings" they've made available this past week). Additionally, they need to get these displays in the hands of the viewing public and reviewers on media sites like this one. I think they're cognizant of these facts, and they're doing a level job. We should start seeing accurate reviews of content handling, etc. in the coming weeks.
The Achilles' Heel of the whole thing is the issue I alluded to earlier: they take far, far too long to release a product line. In what seems like a trend, they have been releasing newer generation models of existing lines even before the largest format of the previous generation has been released. In other words, the biggest, most cutting-edge display is already obsolete by the time we can purchase it. Case in-point is the M3D650SV. I knew I needed it the minute they announced this second generation Passive-3D dynamo. Of course, the 42", 47", and 55" have been readily available (55" met with limited supply as the demand was high, but it was out there). With the success of the 55" M3D550SL, the third generation Passive-3D 55" M3D550KD model is already available (and in-stock for purchase!). That's right: for a mere $50 more in cost, you get 240 Hz over the previous 120 Hz performance in the 55" format (in addition to the other generational advances and features). Unless you are a consumer that does zero research prior to purchase, that's a no-brainer on which one to buy.
Of course, this leads to the question on the 65": Just when it's starting to become available for purchase at a retail store (i.e. Costco) near you, is the 3rd Generation 65" model on it's way shortly thereafter? My guess is that's it's being held-back because it took way too long for manufacturing to ramp-up and start producing the 65" sizes. Sadly, Vizio is so far behind Samsung, Sharp, and other display manufacturers in the size department. Take a walk through your local Costco for the market pulse, and you'll see 70"-80" displays from everyone else. Vizio has yet to show-up with their two year old 65" unit.
Clearly, they know where the cash is coming from. The 55" market is very lucrative. It's just the "right" big size, the costs are cut in manufacturing, and this results in low prices for consumers. 55" is the de facto standard size. Unfortunately for CinemaWide and Cinemascope enthusiasts like us, this also means 16:9 is moving like hotcakes. Thus, there is (just about) zero demand for 2:35 to 1 ratios.
It's not Vizio that's stymying this tiny market. They should be applauded for funding development of a completely unprofitable device in our domestic market. I, for one, would buy one on the spot... if it wasn't so damned small! To put this in perspective, the 47" Sony I've been waiting to replace for over a year has just as much screen height as this 58" CinemaWide model now available. I've been waiting for 65" to be the replacement up to this point, and I'd be making a lateral move (especially as the majority of content is 16:9 today) if I were to buy this 58" model. Further, it stands to reason the 71" model would be the equivalent of a wider 55" display. Given the track record of the release of the "big brother" display in the various model lines and the apparent fact they're having issues with larger format manufacturing, this set may not even see the light of day.
To get to the most important part of this article: Where does this leave me? I mean, I could, likely, get just as much viewing real estate by purchasing the M3D650SV as the CinemaWide 71". However, I have little incentive to buy a, now, obsoleted 120 Hz display. Unfortunately, there aren't any other options with the other large format manufacturers for a passive 3D set. Keeping in-mind that very little 3D content will be displayed, this is a secondary feature, but one that I want to have in my next display purchase nonetheless. Unfortunately, this all translates to one conclusion: Vizio is alienating their high-end consumer in favor of the mid-range. I can't blame them: there's more profit there. It's not like the old days with the Pioneer Elite projection televisions where the enormous price tag could provide them more profit per unit and make it more worthwhile to be in the high-end market. These days, manufacturing costs are so much lower and, thus, pricing so competitive, that the days of this year's "high-end" models being next year's "mid-range" models is just about gone. Has anyone else noticed the fact there's more than one model released in a given year these days? The upgrades are coming quicker because of the changes in the industry as well. This really puts a crimp on us high-end consumers.
I'd love some feedback. Also, I'd love to know what it will take for Blu-ray to support a different encoded resolution for Cinemascope content. Content availability also seems to be the underlying problem with the CinemaWide televisions.