Vizio VO42LF 42-Inch LCD HDTV
At a Glance
The VO42LF 42-inch HDTV delivers very good picture and sound quality at a reasonable price.
Competing HDTVs rarely beat Vizio models on price. A case in point is the Vizio VO42LF, a model we first reviewed back in July that remains a well-rounded package at a low price. At $1100 (as of November 4, 2008), this model has the same price as the newer Vizio SV420XVT. But it lags behind its cousin slightly in performance and specs.
Our judges thought that the VO42LF offered a natural-looking picture, though some images looked fuzzy to our panelists. In one instance, artifacts and pixelation appeared around a test clip of moving cars. And in a David Letterman clip, flesh tones looked a bit too saturated.
Good video deserves good audio, and the VO42LF provides it, within the limitations of any HDTV's built-in speakers. The sound was quite muddy at full volume, but even the most devoted heavy-metal fan won't be tempted to use that setting. At a more reasonable 50 percent volume, audio was still a bit muddy, but better than the sound of most TVs.
The VO42LF disappoints in ease of use and extra features, though Vizio shows some improvement in both respects over past models. For instance, the company has added some easy-access inputs to the side of the TV. But those connectors are recessed, making them harder to reach than other TVs' easy-access inputs. And the rest of the inputs face down, unnecessarily hampering access.
The remote control looks like a candidate for an Apple Computer Minimalist Design Award. It's smallish, with few buttons and a strange, pits-in-a-grid surface. But its attempted coolness doesn't make it convenient or intuitive to use. For instance, it has no Menu button; so you have to press the Enter button (which is labeled neither 'Enter' nor 'Menu') to access the menu. And since the remote doesn't have an Aspect Ratio button or a Picture Size button, you must go deep into the menus to zoom in on a 4:3 program.
You can't expect perfection in an HDTV at this price (hundreds of dollars less than the Toshiba 42XV545U and the LG 42LG60 Scarlet), however. What you see is what you get, and the Vizio VO42LF shows you plenty without forcing you to max out your credit card.