Vizio‘s 2010 LCD lineup is perhaps its most ambitious yet, including a wide range of edge-lit and full-array LED models. The full-array models carry the TruLED moniker, while the edge-lit models sport the RazorLED tag. The M550NV is one of Vizio’s newest top-shelf RazorLED models, and it features most of the company’s advanced technologies and features. We have not performed a hands-on review of the M550NV, but here is an overview of the TV’s features.
This 55-inch, 1080p LCD uses edge LED lighting, in which the LEDs are placed around the screen’s edges to allow for a slimmer design. The M550NV measures just 1.9 inches at its deepest part. An emerging trend in edge-lit designs is to add a form of local dimming in which independent zones can be dimmed or turned off to produce better blacks; Vizio uses that technology here, labeled Smart Dimming. This TV also uses 120Hz technology to reduce motion blur and film judder. You can add the M550NV to a home network via wired Ethernet or the integrated 802.11n WiFi system, and this TV includes the Vizio Internet Apps (VIA) Web platform, with access to Netflix, VUDU, Amazon VOD, Pandora, Rhapsody, Twitter and more. It comes with Vizio’s special Bluetooth remote with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for easier text input. The M550NV has EnergyStar 4.0 certification.
The connection panel includes four HDMI inputs but only one component video input–a trend we’re seeing with many new higher-end models. It also has a PC input and an RF input to access the internal ATSC and Clear-QAM tuners (picture-in-picture functionality is available). The HDMI inputs accept both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 signals, and one is located on the side panel for easy access. Also on the side panel are three USB ports that support photo playback. The Ethernet port is located on the rear panel. The M550NV lacks an RS-232 or IR port for integration into an advanced control system.
The M550NV has a solid but not extensive array of picture controls, beginning with nine picture modes (four of which are tuned for sports programming). You get four color-temperature settings, including a custom mode through which you can adjust RGB gain and offset to dial in a more accurate white balance. The TV lacks advanced gamma control and a color-management system to individually fine-tune the six color points. Instead, you get a Color Enhancement system that lets you choose between five color palettes: Off, Normal, Rich Color, Green/flesh, and Green/blue. An ambient light sensor allows you to tailor the screen brightness to suit your environment. Noise reduction is available, as is a Smart Dimming control that lets you turn the zone-dimming function on or off. The 120Hz function is controlled by two menu options: Real Cinema and Smooth Motion Effect. The Real Cinema setting lets you dictate an initial setting of Off, Precision, or Smooth; then, the Smooth Motion Effect menu lets you dictate the level of intensity of the Smooth setting. Finally, the TV has five aspect-ratio options, including a Normal mode to view HD images without overscan and a newly added Zoom 1 mode to crop out extraneous noise when needed.
On the audio side, the setup menu includes five preset audio modes, plus a balance control, a lip sync function and an equalizer to fine-tune various frequencies. SRS TruSurround HD and SRS TruVolume are available. You can enable Bluetooth audio to send audio signals wirelessly to a set of Bluetooth headphones.
Read more about the high points and low points of the M550NV on Page 2.
• The edge-lit LED design allows for a slim cabinet, and Vizio adds Smart Dimming for more precise control of the LED lighting system to improve black-level performance.
• The 120Hz technology effectively reduces motion blur and offers multiple settings to tailor the smoothing effect to your liking.
• This TV has a 1080p resolution and will accept 24p sources via its HDMI inputs.
• LCDs can be very bright, which makes them a good choice for a brightly lit viewing environment.
• The TV has solid connection options and a Bluetooth remote with a QWERTY keyboard.
• The M550NV can connect to a network via a wired or wireless connection, and it can access the Vizio Internet Apps platform.
• Edge-lit LED-based LCD TVs can suffer from brightness-uniformity issues. The Smart Dimming system likely isn’t as precise as what you get from a full-array LED system with local dimming.
• LCD viewing angles are not as good you’ll find with a plasma TV.
• This TV lacks DLNA media streaming, as well as an IR or RS-232 port.
• The M550NV lacks 3D capability.
Competition and Comparison
If you are looking for a screen in the 55-inch range, be sure to look at the Sharp LC-46LE820UN LED LCD review and the Mitsubishi Unisen LT-55154 LED LCD review. Or, if your after Vizio, check out the Vizio SV472XVT TruLED LCD review for a comparison within the brand. Also, be sure to check out the LED LCD HDTV section to learn more.
At least on paper, the M550NV certainly gives new edge-lit LED LCDs from the likes of Samsung and Sony a run for their money. This TV has the same desirable features–like Smart Dimming, 120Hz, built-in WiFi, a slim form factor, and a Web platform with excellent video-on-demand options. Plus, you get a well-conceived remote that offers a better user experience when you’re navigating those Web services. And, since it’s Vizio, you know you’re getting a great deal. The M550NV is offered at Vizio.com for a very reasonable $1,829.99, and you can find it for even less through major retailers. For the value-minded shopper who still wants the full slate of perks, this one is definitely worth a look.