November 21, 2008
| by Rebecca Day
Deflation may be punishing the economy overall, but it promises terrific bargains for consumers planning a TV buy for the Super Bowl.
This week, Vizio took the wraps off a 55-inch LCD TV that will carry a suggested retail price of $1,999 when it ships to dealers in January. But expect the street price to drop below that before the Super Bowl kickoff, according to Ken Lowe, co-founder and vp of business development for Vizio.
Despite the economy-friendly price, Vizio hasn’t skimped on features. Try a 50,000:1 contrast ratio, 500-nits brightness level, a 10-bit data panel producing 1.7 billion colors and 5ms response time. That’s just the beginning. The 1080p TV packs 120Hz Smooth Motion Video, comes with 5—count ‘em—HDMI 1.3 inputs and is the first TV to offer SRS TruVolume. That means you no longer have to dive for the mute button every time a commercial comes on.
TruVolume technology zaps unwanted audio spikes that occur when you’re surfing between channels or when regular programming goes to a commercial break. Vizio demoed the volume feature at a product unveiling in New York, and we were impressed that we didn’t have to hold our ears when recorded demo material switched from Sunday Night Football to an iTunes commercial. We’re not sure why you’d opt out of the feature, but you can. The VF-550XVT1A also includes SRS TruSurround, which beefs up the sound over standard TV audio.
HD Sound Bar and Wireless Subwoofer (View Photo)
Vizio also auditioned its first sound bar, a 40-inch wide enclosure designed to go beneath a flat-panel TV. Due out in January, the $349 VSB210WS Sound Bar comes with a wireless sub that can be placed up to 60 feet from the main module as long as it’s in line of sight. The wireless connectivity is over the 2.4-GHz band, so be careful of the nearby cordless phone, Bluetooth headset and Wi-Fi game adapter.
In our demo, the Sound Bar improved on the sound of the embedded TV solution thanks to a 6.5-inch long-throw woofer in the sub, along with 4 mid-bass drivers and 2 1-inch dome tweeter in the bar itself. The main module connects to the TV via a single cable. SRS HD Surround Sound and TruVolume complete the package. The extra oomph gave credibility to the shattering glass, hovering helicopter and gun shots in Mission Impossible 3. It sounds like Vizio’s low-cost sound upgrade isn’t a moment too soon. According to Steve Roney, product manager of home entertainment at SRS, 76-percent of TV owners use the built-in TV speakers for sound. And with flat-panel TVs getting ever thinner, sound is getting thinner too.
Smaller-size LCD TVs
If you have size constraints, Vizio’s got you covered on the smaller end too. The company launched 19-, 22- and 26-inch models in the VA line priced at $249, $349, and $449. They’re available for the holidays. If you think 1080p is overkill for a 22-inch TV, it’s part of a Vizio master plan. The DVI connector makes it a perfect monitor for the dorm room and HDMI sets it up as a high-quality TV for the first apartment after graduation.
The new Vizio lineup is easy on the utility bill, too. All of Vizio models are Energy Star 3.0-compliant, and the company says nine models best those minimums by as much as 25 percent. What will it cost you to run one of the 19- or 22-inch models? The same amount of energy as a standard 60-watt light bulb, says Lowe.
For more information, click here to read entire press release.