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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

Tom Norton recently had the 2014 Vizio E550i-B2 at his house for review in Sound & Vision magazine, and he invited me to check it out. At a list price of only $730, this 55" LED-LCD TV is not the be-all and end-all of flat-panel displays, but it's certainly intriguing, especially with FALD (full-array local dimming) LED backlighting. Granted, there are only 12 FALD zones—two horizontally by six vertically—which can't really mimic the on-screen image as FALD sets with many zones can. But those sets are also much more expensive, so I kept my expectations in check.

 



In the E550I-B2, there are 12 FALD zones. This illustration shows 16, which larger versions of this model have. The zones are arranged in two columns.

 

As he always does, Tom had calibrated the grayscale and color gamut, thanks to the set's grayscale controls and a full CMS (color-management system) that actually works properly (many do not). The E550i even provides an 11-point calibration system, though he used the 2-point system and got it dialed in pretty well, with a delta-E around 2 throughout the brightness range. Of course, few buyers of this set will spend hundreds of dollars to have it professionally calibrated, but in a review, that puts the set on a level playing field with all other TVs he reviews, a philosophy with which I agree. Tom also reports that the video processing is very good.

 

As you would expect, the LEDs shut off completely when the set is displaying a completely black field for more than a few seconds, but with anything at all on the screen—say, a status indicator at the top of the screen—Tom measured a black level of 0.0008 foot-lamberts, which is pretty darn good. He calibrated the set to a peak-white level of just under 30 fL, and the average gamma measured 2.09 with local dimming on and 2.21 with local dimming off. Gamma is not adjustable on this TV.

 



 

We started by watching clips from Life of Pi, Prometheus, and Stargate: Continuum, all of which had excellent detail. The opening credits of Life of Pi looked wonderful, very colorful but in no way unnatural. Likewise, skin tones were entirely natural—though as I was to observe later, that was not always the case. And the blues in the pool scene were perhaps a bit muted, but nothing to complain about.

 

The black of space in Prometheus was not super deep—in fact, I was struck by how light the spaceship looked as it came into the frame near the beginning of the movie. Black interstitial screens exhibited a very slight nonuniformity—which was also visible during the Scott Free Productions splash screen—but certainly not nearly as bad as most edgelit LED-LCD TVs I've seen. And the LEDs do not shut down during these moments, which I find pretty distracting. Black letterbox bars looked quite good, as did the shadow detail inside the alien structure.

 

As in Prometheus, the starfield at the beginning of Stargate: Continuum looked very good, with no haloing around individual stars as there often is in FALD sets, but the black of space wasn't super deep. Colors were generally quite good, with the exception of skin tones, which looked distinctly reddish. The shadow detail in the scene of the Achilles steaming across the Atlantic Ocean was excellent, though the overall brightness of the image was a bit too high due to the low gamma.

 

When the scene shifted to the ship's wheelhouse, I saw a big problem—the captain's face looked like a wax mask! Tom said he saw this in several scenes, but it wasn't consistent; I hadn't seen it up to that point. After my visit, Tom discovered that the problem disappeared when he turned off the Black Detail control—strange.

 

Before I left, Tom fired up his Panasonic TC-P65ZT60 plasma and fed both sets with the same signal using an HDMI splitter—hardly a fair comparison, to be sure, since the plasma is larger and cost six times as much as the Vizio. But what the heck, might as well see how the Vizio compared with a true reference display.

 

We played the same three clips, and as you'd expect, the Panasonic beat the Vizio hands down in terms of black level. The colors were pretty well matched—except for blue. While the Vizio's blues looked perfectly okay when viewed alone, they looked almost gray when compared with the Panasonic; this was particularly evident in the pool scene from Life of Pi. I don't think this will be a problem for anyone viewing the Vizio by itself—it wasn't for me.

 

Why would such an inexpensive TV be of much interest to AVS members? Well, I'm willing to bet that many members can't afford a reference display, and those who can might want a less-expensive secondary TV for the bedroom. Plus, if the E series performs well, the higher series should be even better. From what I saw, the E550i-B2 performs exceedingly well for the price. Yes, the blues are somewhat anemic, but this is blatant only in a side-by-side comparison. And be sure to turn off Black Detail to avoid the occasional waxy face. Otherwise, I'm quite impressed with what Vizio can do for $730.

 

See Tom's full review at SoundandVision.com .

 

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Vizio is still not available in Canada. I have called and emailed the Canadian representative, and I have never got a reply.


If anyone in Vizio reads these posts, please bring your TV's into Canada through someone who will answer emails.
 

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I'd be interested to see the results of a comparison of this tv compared to my comparatively sized (60")and priced ($800) Panny U50/54 Plaz from last year. This review makes me feel better about a Vizio such as this for my basement.
 

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ZT is no reference. For example it has gray colors instead of blue colors in comparison.

 

The Reference is nature and our own eyes ! Not Panasonic marketing tricks.

Or if you want to go deeper it's mathematical models.
 

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I've noticed that LCDs have gotten a lot better over the last few years. The high end Samsung 4K LCDs are the best TVs I've ever seen. At least when they're playing native 4K contents. Much better than my Panasonic plasma's. I've never seen an OLED set.


I'm not that upset over plasma and possibly OLED going away. I think LCD isn't a bad alternative.
 

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why is the plasma better at blue? i don't get this if they are calibrated. both should easily reach 100% rec. 709. so the difference shouldn't be colors it should be Contrast, motion clearness, dither noise and things like this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by fight4yu  /t/1531937/vizio-e550i-b2-led-lcd-tv-a-brief-critical-look#post_24724707


How's off-axis viewing? One main thing I like my plasma over LCD is the off-axis viewing..
It wasn't great; that's one thing plasma certainly has over LCD.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by proyal  /t/1531937/vizio-e550i-b2-led-lcd-tv-a-brief-critical-look#post_24724780

 

ZT is no reference. For example it has gray colors instead of blue colors in comparison.

 

The Reference is nature and our own eyes ! Not Panasonic marketing tricks.

Or if you want to go deeper it's mathematical models.
I think you misunderstood what I was saying: the ZT60 had much bluer colors than the E550i, not the other way around.

 

Of course, the ultimate reference is nature, but the ZT60 is widely regarded as a reference-quality video display. It can't reproduce everything we see in nature—no video display can—but the ZT60 is among the best video displays yet created, so it can rightfully be called "reference."
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by mightyhuhn  /t/1531937/vizio-e550i-b2-led-lcd-tv-a-brief-critical-look#post_24724990

 

why is the plasma better at blue? i don't get this if they are calibrated. both should easily reach 100% rec. 709. so the difference shouldn't be colors it should be Contrast, motion clearness, dither noise and things like this.
I honestly don't know. Tom said he had to lower the blue level in the CMS to bring it into conformity with the system standards. And as I said, the blues looked good when viewed in isolation; it was only when compared with the Panasonic that they looked underwhelming.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson  /t/1531937/vizio-e550i-b2-led-lcd-tv-a-brief-critical-look#post_24726083



It wasn't great; that's one thing plasma certainly has over LCD.
Scott, would you say it's not up to IPS panel viewing widths and typical for a TN style LCD?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by brutusfl  /t/1531937/vizio-e550i-b2-led-lcd-tv-a-brief-critical-look#post_24726956

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson  /t/1531937/vizio-e550i-b2-led-lcd-tv-a-brief-critical-look#post_24726083



It wasn't great; that's one thing plasma certainly has over LCD.
Scott, would you say it's not up to IPS panel viewing widths and typical for a TN style LCD?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stereodude  /t/1531937/vizio-e550i-b2-led-lcd-tv-a-brief-critical-look#post_24727211


TN LCD? Does someone actually make large TVs with TN LCDs?
 

Stereodude is right; no one makes TN LCD TVs. You're probably thinking of VA panels. Actually, I think Vizio uses IPS panels, though the company will not reveal where it gets its panels. I'd say the E550i was more or less comparable to other IPS panels, which means better than VA panels, but still not great, especially compared with plasma.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson  /t/1531937/vizio-e550i-b2-led-lcd-tv-a-brief-critical-look#post_24727711



Stereodude is right; no one makes TN LCD TVs. You're probably thinking of VA panels. Actually, I think Vizio uses IPS panels, though the company will not reveal where it gets its panels. I'd say the E550i was more or less comparable to other IPS panels, which means better than VA panels, but still not great, especially compared with plasma.
Derp. Right, I meant VA based panels. Thanks.

I might add, that it appears The E series I've seen so far are obviously not IPS and have far narrower viewing angles than the obviously IPS panels of the 2013 M series. Just hoping a 2014 model in the 50" range would happen to end up being IPS. Even one of LG's 50" models is reported to NOT be IPS this year, despite all the other models in that line being IPS.


(For those browsing by, I just looked it up and it's the LG LB6300 series where every model is IPS except the 50". In the LB7100 series, the 70" isn't IPS either)
 

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Excellent write up as usual. Definitely a good value. Thanks for confirming it. I've steered a few family members and non videophiles towards this series as such as a great budget option.
 

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From the Sound and Vision review:


"The dark scenes in films like Gravity and Prometheus were impressively deep and rich, though star fields had less pop than on a plasma TV. Local dimming can read a full-screen star field as mostly black and then dim the overall picture, including the stars."


I guess it'll be interesting to see if "Pixel Tuning" that's available on the M and P series brings pop to the stars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by venus933  /t/1531937/vizio-e550i-b2-led-lcd-tv-a-brief-critical-look#post_24728050


From the Sound and Vision review:


"The dark scenes in films like Gravity and Prometheus were impressively deep and rich, though star fields had less pop than on a plasma TV. Local dimming can read a full-screen star field as mostly black and then dim the overall picture, including the stars."


I guess it'll be interesting to see if "Pixel Tuning" that's available on the M and P series brings pop to the stars.
I agree with Tom's statement here. And I, too, am looking forward to seeing if Active Pixel Tuning increased the pop of stars.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson  /t/1531937/vizio-e550i-b2-led-lcd-tv-a-brief-critical-look/0_50#post_24727711



Stereodude is right; no one makes TN LCD TVs. You're probably thinking of VA panels. Actually, I think Vizio uses IPS panels, though the company will not reveal where it gets its panels. I'd say the E550i was more or less comparable to other IPS panels, which means better than VA panels, but still not great, especially compared with plasma.
I thought it was reported that Vizio is using VA panels for 2014 and no more IPS panels.
 
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