Vizio XVT423SV: a Solidly Above-Average HDTV Across the Board
At a Glance
XVT423SV 42-Inch LCD TV
Though the Vizio XVT423SV isn't the best HDTV we've seen, it's consistently above average.
The 42-inch TruLED LCD Vizio XVT423SV is a serious option if you're looking for an affordable 42-inch HDTV with a nice array of Internet applications. This 1080p television with a 240Hz refresh rate ($1280 as of October 8, 2010) delivers above-average picture quality. The TV has a shiny black bezel and sits on an oval, nonswiveling stand. Black speakers situated below the television are visible on either side of the stand's squat neck.
Most of the ports on the back are positioned so that plugged-in cords will be parallel to the screen, but a couple of them will hold cords perpendicular to the screen. The XVT423SV has a bonanza of ports--one HDMI port and three USB ports on the side, and four more HDMI ports on the bottom. Also located on the bottom is a PC-in port and a cable/antenna port. The remaining ports, all located on the back, comprise ethernet, component, A/V-in, audio-out, audio-in, and an optical port.
The XVT423SV's remote is short, squat, and different: It's a horizontal slider with a full QWERTY keyboard inside. Because the remote uses Bluetooth, no direct line of sight is necessary to switch channels. The TV is designed to pair with other Bluetooth-enabled devices (such as a full-size keyboard).
The remote is a bit too thick for comfortable long-term holding, but that's the price of having internal keyboard. The remote's elements are pretty basic: a control pad, media controls (pause, rewind, and so on), four shortcut buttons, and a big, shiny button for Internet content. The slide-out keyboard is a tad too big to hold comfortably, and it isn't the easiest thing to type on: The keys are small, close together, and rubbery.
Despite branding itself as "fully connected," the XVT423SV comes with a normal number of preinstalled Web apps. Hitting the Internet shortcut button brings up a menu (at the bottom of the screen) of available apps: Amazon Video, Facebook, Flickr, Netflix, Rhapsody, TV Guide, Twitter, Vudu, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo News, Yahoo Weather, and Yahoo Widgets, plus Web videos.
One of the XVT423SV's best features is that it treats internet apps such as Netflix and Amazon Video as a separate input, which means that a wide variety of picture controls are available to you. Options cover different picture modes, backlight level, and some advanced controls, but not contrast or color. Since the other TVs in our test group offer virtually no control over the picture in streaming video, this is an awesome feature.
The television's startup wizard starts by having you activate the remote control by holding down the record button and the green shortcut button simultaneously for 5 seconds and then waiting for the TV to recognize the remote. Then the wizard guides you through connecting to the Internet (wired or via the TV's built-in Wi-Fi) and setting up your cable and any media devices.
The black on-screen menus appear on the right-hand side, and aren't too distracting from whatever's playing. The highlight color is a light grayish blue. The menus are a bit too boxy to be called elegant, but they're clean and professional looking.
Preset picture modes include Standard, Movie, Game, Vivid, Football, Golf, Basketball, and Baseball, as well as a custom mode. Basic picture settings include the usual options for brightness, contrast, and color, and there's also an Advanced Picture menu where you can enable noise reduction, real cinema mode, and smooth motion effect.
In our juried testing, the Vizio XVT423SV performed solidly above average in almost every scene we ran. The TV performed particularly well in our 1080i football scene, with good color and detail.
In the panning tests we saw some moderate blur as we panned across a blueprint, and mild shaking as we panned diagonally across a cityscape. These flaws are less noticeable when you watch actual video footage, however.
The range of viewing angles on the XVT423SV is acceptable: Moving to either side doesn't affect the picture quality much unless you're watching something with a lot of dark colors. Colors generally remain bright and vivid, and the set continues to spit out dark blacks. The picture does get darker as you move around, but this is only an issue if the picture on the screen is dark to begin with.
The speakers on the XVT423SV aren't great, and Vizio gives you few controls to improve the audio. You can adjust the balance, turn the built-in speakers on and off, and turn on TruSurround sound (which has far less depth than other simulated surround sounds we've heard).
The XVT423SV's 67-page manual is detailed, but not as well illustrated as some of the others we've seen.