Vizio E420AR review: 42", 1080p and just $428 - what's not to like?
Jan 1, 2013 (Updated Jan 5, 2013)
Review by bigtruckseriesreview .
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Recommend this product?
I MADE A SHORT TAKE VIDEO OF THIS TELEVISION
I purchased THE VIZIO E420AR because I needed a television for my guest room and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I already have a larger 1080p HD-television in my main living room and I didn’t want to go as high as 47” or 50” because I simply didn’t see the need too. Fortunately Epinions just added this model to their database because I wanted to write about it back on December 20th and couldn’t. Best Buy and Walmart are pushing these out for a low low price of $428. There are other TV’s available online from RCA and Panasonic which exceed 46 inches and cost within $10 of the E420AR’s price, but I went with this one because I was able to simply go and pick it up wherein I’d have had to wait for the others to arrive in the mail.
The E420AR is roughly what you’d expect from a Vizio model Television. The set weighs 26.46 lbs with its stand and 25.49lbs without it. The vast majority of wall brackets for 42” TVs will be able to accommodate this TV, but I’m placing mine on a wooden TV stand – atop a set top box and video game consoles. The frame is all black, attractive and professional looking. I personally don’t like some brand names emblazoned across the front of my devices, but over time, I’ve warmed to the Vizio brand name. the label isn’t big enough to be an annoyance.
The interface is simple to navigate through with the remote control and supports English, Spanish and French. Other popular languages such as Chinese and Japanese are left out.
If you want to get the highest quality from your video source, you’ll want to connect this television via HDMI. For HD video sources, the television has 3 HDMI inputs and just one Component. I connected my Fios Set Top Box and an Xbox 360 via HDMI. The last connector might be used for the PS3 when I decide to move it off my main television’s load – or add a Blu- Ray player.
This television also includes a 15-pin VGA cable connection if you want to plug it directly to a computer that doesn’t have an HDMI-out. Audio connections includes two 3.5 mm audio jacks. One is specifically for the PC input – in case you plugged a computer in via VGA. If I were you, and you intended to use this as a monitor, I’d get an inexpensive video card with HDMI-out so the computer could send both video and audio signals on just one cable.
Audio-out is limited to a single RCA (red,white) composite for analog stereo systems, and an optical out for digital stereo systems. I connected this Television to an RCA RTB10223 Blu Ray Home Theater system using the optical out. Sound quality was crystal clear, but because overall sound quality, volume, bass and treble is dependent on the speaker system moreso than the television, I’d save that critique for a review about the RTB10223 rather than the television – which acts more as a pass through for the data stream coming from the Fios box.
This television includes a single USB port on back. If you have a flash drive with JPEG pictures you can plug it in and the Vizio firmware will recognize it – allowing you to play the contents on the main interface. You will not be able to play music files (MP3, WAV, etc) or mix sources (i.e. play USB and run HDMI simultaneously).
What you won’t find here is support for last-generation analog sources. There aren’t any RCA-inputs for game systems such as Nintendo Wii or the first-run Xbox 360 connectors (without component or HDMI out). You also won’t be able to connect a VCR or an old DVD player short of using the component (YPbPr).
THE REMOTE CONTROL
I’ve yet to be satisfied by a Vizio remote. Perhaps the company feels you are automatically going to use a universal remote with your cable service and thinks they needn’t bother making a standout remote. It’s a huge mistake and oversight.
The remote that comes with this television is painfully simple. There is no backlight, nothing glows in the dark and the plastics in use feel cheap. I doubt this would survive more than a couple falls to my hard wood floor. The buttons themselves are made of a soft rubber which I already see collecting dust after less than a month.
Its buttons are decently laid out: input is in the top left corner, power in the top right corner and the volume/ channel rockers occupying the far right sides of the central area. The “vizio” button which takes you to the system panel is recessed between the rockers and there is a D-pad directly above with a clearly defined OK button in the center.
Navigating the volume, channel, power, input and D-pad are intuitive in the dark, but the entire rest of the remote (recorder functions and numeric channel pad) is very difficult to memorize.
LACK OF INTERNET APPS
You could spend more money and get a Vizio E422VLE (or other make) television that comes with a 42" screen, 120Hz, 1080p, Internet Apps, ethernet and WiFi for around $480.
A long time ago, I reviewed the Vizio XVT373SV - an internet app enabled 37” 120Hz, television capable of 1080p. In that review I spoke highly of picture quality, while being completely disappointed with the internet apps due to the long download/update times over the internet and the poorly designed remote control.
Nowadays, there are numerous options for people who want internet connections with their Television. Besides Apple TV, there are the Xbox360 and PS3 which offer Youtube, videos on demand and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. There are also Blu Ray players for less than $100 that offer Youtube/social media as well.
The FIOS TV set top box offers Facebook, Twitter, videos on demand and Youtube. Therefore, I felt it would be overkill and a waste of money to spend more money – especially since my guests probably wouldn’t be able to operate all the extras immediately.
In the store, I paced back and forth around the Television demo area trying to decide which TV I’d purchase. I definitely didn’t want a TV larger than 3.5 feet because I didn’t want it to overlap the sides of the television stand I’d be using. I also wanted to keep the television within a $500 budget. I already knew the set top box and game systems I’d connect to this television would output in full HD with flawless pictures, so I decided to get a 1080p model rather than a 720p model – where I could easily see pixel squares from less than 5 feet away.
The television boasts a maximum resolution of 1920x1080p and a dynamic contrast ratio of 100,000:1. Unfortunately, the Refresh rate is just 60Hz wherein most current Televisions (higher in price) offer 120Hz and even 240Hz. The store had all of their televisions connected to the exact same output advertisement source. I’d be lying if I told you I could easily see a difference between the 60Hz model and the 120Hz model because I didn’t. The human brain handles refresh rates differently among individual people, but the current wisdom is that 120Hz refreshes at twice the speed of a 60Hz model and that the picture should be smoother on the 120Hz model. Again – the only thing I was able to see immediately were the tiny pixels when I compared the 720p to the 1080.
It's also important to consider that game systems such as the 360, PS3 and Wii: U are designed to run on SDTV and HDTV. The human eye typically notices when refresh rates drop below 60Hz (and 60 frames per second). Game consoles are tuned to deliver at or above 60Hz. Higher refresh rates make "screen tearing" artifacts less apparent or eliminate them entirely.
Out of the box, I decided to run Mortal Kombat and Far Cry 3 the television using one of my Xbox 360’s with HDMI-out. The television automatically recognized the device and ran in 1080p. Both games were bright, beautiful and looked as good as they do on a PC monitor. Brightness is usually turned way up in the stores to make a Television stand out. This television had presets for games, movies and standard television which basically just upped or dropped brightness a few notches. When I customized the settings for the room’s lightning, I turned brightness to 80% to prevent color washout. Individual opinions may vary, but I was perfectly satisfied with color reproduction. Black areas looked "black" and white areas look brilliantly "white" without having color bleed at the edges.
While some of you might be inclined to ask WHAT DOES THAT MEAN??? Let me say that:
Far Cry 3’s weapons looked almost photorealistic, the skin of the enemies looked photorealistic and the lush jungles and water looked as real as could be.
Let’s talk about watching TV on Fios. The picture quality was muddy and a bit fuzzy around the edges on standard definition channels. You are supposed to use your box with HDMI and on the HD channels so that’s how I normally watch my movies. Turn to the 1080i HD channels and the picture looks very sharp and movements are smooth with no artifacting or fuzz around the edges. I normally test my Televisions using MSNBC, CNBC and FOX Business News because they have stock tickers which are small and moving at a fast rate of speed. I had absolutely no complaints at all with this television. Movements still smooth and picture quality still sharp.
I turned the TV to a football game and a soccer match. In the store, when the action seemed to be at it's fastest during running plays, I did notice more screen tearing and blurriness behind the runners on the cheaper televisions. using this TV at home, I didn't see any during the games. A possibility is that the Fios box itself is tuned to only present in the highest quality possible which would eliminate screen problems by default. Sleight of hand - but totally unnoticeable by people at home watching Television during big events.
Viewing angles that I plan this TV to be used at seemed fine to me. When you are sitting directly in front of a TV you are at a viewing angle of 0°. Slightly off center to the left or right and you increase the angle to closer to 45°. While the television is virtually unseeable at 90° – which is directly left or right of the bezel, I found all angles between 85° left and 85° right to be usable with little-to-no color fading or, more importantly backlight bleeding around the edges of the screen. I absolutely do not plan for anyone to be sitting at 90° angles from this TV – the highest will be about 60° due to the positioning of the room’s furniture.
AUDIO SETTINGS in this television are handled automatically when you plug in an HDMI device.
The television features lip synching which allows you to adjust the lips to the audio track (so far, I’ve had no need of it as Fios channels seem optimized perfectly). There are also two features that are boasting points: TruSurround and TruVolume.
TruSurround is advertised as a way to maximize performance from 2 channel speakers – giving you the illusion you are listing with a surround system. Though I do have a surround sound theater system, I gave TruSurround a chance. It works very well in my opinion and actually does give me the illusion of using a low-end surround sound system. However, those virtual channels aren’t very loud. You cannot for instance differentiate Al Pacino’s Sig550 from Val Kilmer’s CAR-15 in the film HEAT like you can with a home theater. In my ears, it still sounds like direct stereo sound rather than a real 5.1. When the shooting starts and the glass is shattering I want to be able to hear it all as if I’m there.
Speaking specifically of the stereo sound, I found the speaker's bass and treble response to be more than adequate. You don't typically come to a budget TV looking to be blown away by boomy bass simply because the stereo drivers aren't large enough to do that - nor is there usually a subwoofer to support them. Strictly speaking, I found high and low frequencies to be more than adequate - but individual human ears may demand more or less depending upon your preferences.
TruVolume is there to raise or lower the volume based on the digital source’s data demands. I didn’t like the fact some channels came in low while commercials jumped many volume notches causing the speakers to resonate through the frame. I turned it off immediately.
The 2 speakers in the television are just 10 Watts. At their maximum volume there is annoying resonance, but you can comfortably listen to the television at just 70% volume-up. Sound is at least as clear as the input. Those of you wanting more sound performance will inevitably use a soundbar or home theater. I’ve never used a sound bar – opting for home theaters. Once you’ve taken it to that level, the television’s speakers become negligible. As is, this television is loud enough for family rooms, loud enough for doctor offices and loud enough for waiting rooms in small business offices without external add-ons.
YOU WANNA SPEND MORE MONEY?
Directly above this model was the E420VL. That set included 120Hz technology and was backlit by the same CCFL as this model. I felt picture quality was roughly the same from what I could see in the store, but considering that TV was a higher end model than the AR, I could only assume it would probably be smoother when running an HD source. What I did like about that model was that it offered more inputs (2x RCA Component and 3 RCA audio-ins) on top of the same connections the E420AR offered. There’s a $60 premium price with the VL so it may not fit all 42” buyer budgets.
My final cost was $511 which included the $428 purchase price, tax and a $66 warranty extension. Because I own a small business, some of that money I will recoup.
I’ve warmed up to the Vizio name after owning other televisions made by them – which have lasted till this point without trouble or any need for consumer response services whatsoever. It looks great, is simple to use and provides a relatively inexpensive, reliable option for my houseguests.
Please watch my video and if you have any further questions feel free to ask.
Amount Paid (US$): 428
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