Vizio‘s comprehensive 2010 LCD lineup includes a large assortment of LED-based LCDs, of both the edge-lit (dubbed Razor LED) and full-array (dubbed TruLED) varieties. Part of the higher-end XVT Series, the XVT473SV falls in the TruLED camp, employing a full-array LED backlighting system with local dimming. Vizio’s Smart Dimming system allows the TV to dim or turn off specific LED zones to improve black-level performance. This 47-inch, 1080p TV is a 2D-only model (Vizio’s XVT Pro Series includes 3D models) that features Vizio’s 240Hz SPS technology to reduce motion blur and film judder, as well as the Vizio Internet Apps (VIA) platform–with access to Netflix, VUDU, and Amazon video-on-demand, plus Pandora, Rhapsody, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo Widgets, and more. You can add the TV to your network via wired Ethernet or integrated dual-band 802.11n. Additional features include a Bluetooth-enabled remote with a full QWERTY keyboard, SRS TruVolume and TruSurround HD audio processing, and EnergyStar 4.0 certification. The XVT473SV’s MSRP is $1,569.99.
Setup and Features
The XVT473SV’s aesthetic is more attractive than that of some previous Vizio TVs, but it’s still a pretty basic design. The TV has a gloss-black finish; an oval-shaped, non-swiveling base; and black speakers that run along the bottom of the screen. Its form factor isn’t as slim as you’ll get with the edge-lit RazorLED line, but it still only measures 2.99 inches deep and weighs 51.7 pounds without the stand. This LCD uses a traditional matte screen, as opposed to the highly reflective models you’ll find on many higher-end LCDs. The TV’s most distracting visual element is the illuminated Vizio logo in the center of the lower bezel. It glows orange when the TV is off, white when the TV is on, and there’s no way to turn it off–which can be very distracting when watching movies in a completely dark room.
The remote control is an interesting piece–it’s excellent in some areas and frustrating in others. On the plus side, it can communicate with the TV via Bluetooth technology and therefore doesn’t require line of sight (with a range of about 30 feet). It can also work in an IR mode. During the initial setup process, you’re given the opportunity to pair the remote with the TV (you can also pair other devices, like Bluetooth headphones; Vizio says that even more Bluetooth functions could be added in the future). The remote has a clean design with an intuitive button layout. Its finest attribute is the slide-out QWERTY keyboard, which makes it much easier to input text when using the VIA system. You can also set up the remote, via an easy onscreen tool, to control other devices. On the downside, the remote lacks dedicated input and aspect-ratio buttons. It doesn’t even include a general aspect-ratio button that lets you scroll through the options. You have to go into the setup menu to make this change. Most troublesome is the fact that the remote lacks backlighting and uses small, black buttons on a black background, making it very difficult to use in the dark. This may not be a big deal with your average TV remote because, chances are, you’ll replace it with a universal model. However, Vizio has designed this remote to actually be used (at least the keyboard part), so the decision to omit backlighting is a puzzling one.
The XVT473SV has a thorough connection panel that includes a generous five HDMI inputs but only one component video input. You also get one PC input and one RF input to access the internal tuners. Picture-in-picture is available. Four of the HDMI inputs, along with the PC and RF inputs, reside in a recessed panel on the unit’s backside and face downward to minimize the amount of space needed behind the panel. The fifth HDMI input is located on the side panel, along with three USB ports that are currently inactive but will support music and photo playback via an upcoming firmware update. The Ethernet port is located on the back panel. The TV lacks RS-232 for integration into an advanced control system.
The video setup menu includes the key functions we like to see but omits a few advanced controls. The XVT473SV has nine picture modes, four of which are tuned for sports programming. (The setup menu also includes a separate Game mode to improve response time with gaming content.) As usual, I went with the Movie mode, which looks the most natural out of the box. Of course, you get basic adjustments like color, tint, contrast, brightness, and sharpness. Turning up the sharpness control will add obvious edge enhancement to the picture, while setting the sharpness control at its minimum will noticeably soften the picture; so, you’ll need to find a happy medium. I went with a setting of 4 (of 16), which kept a nice level of detail without adding blatant edge enhancement to real-world signals.
This TV features an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the backlight to suit the viewing environment (it’s on by default), but I opted for the 100-step adjustable backlight instead. The XVT473SV can be extremely bright at its maximum backlight; a setting of about 20 (of 100) will produce solid brightness for a well-lit room while still offering a good base black level. The menu also features an adaptive luma control that’s designed to “improve details in dark areas of the picture.” This mode, which was turned on by default in my sample, causes the black level to noticeably shift based on the picture content; so, I switched it off. You also have the option to enable or disable the Smart Dimming feature; turn this function off, and the TV behaves like a traditional CCFL LCD with an always-on backlight. Frankly, I can’t imagine why you’d buy this model and turn off the Smart Dimming, but you can if you wish.
In the color realm, the XVT473SV has four color-temperature presets, as well as advanced white-balance controls. The TV lacks gamma control and a color-management system to individually fine-tune the six color points. Instead, you get a color enhancement function that lets you choose between five color palettes: off, normal, rich color, green/flesh, and green/blue. The off mode produces the most neutral color palette. The XVT473SV offers four aspect-ratio choices: wide, zoom, normal, and stretch (panoramic for SD). To access these options, you have to pull up the main menu, then navigate to the “Wide” menu to change the selection. The normal mode displays 1080i/1080p content with no overscan.
As with Toshiba and LG’s 240Hz implementations, Vizio’s Smooth Motion 240Hz SPS (Scenes Per Second) technology does not produce a true 240Hz refresh rate: This TV has a 120Hz refresh rate and flashes the backlight to create a 240Hz effect. The Smooth Motion technology is designed to reduce motion blur by creating additional frames, but it uses motion interpolation in the process, which produces smoother, less-juddery movement with film sources. The Smooth Motion Effect menu includes off, low, middle, and high settings that dictate the level of smoothness. There’s also a Real Cinema mode that deals specifically with film sources, with off, precision, and smooth options. The off mode adds no further processing beyond what Smooth Motion adds; the precision mode looks at the 60Hz film signal (after 3:2 has been added) and creates interpolated frames to get to 120Hz; the smooth mode breaks down the film signal to its original 24 frames and creates interpolated frames from there to get to 120Hz. If you turn off both Smooth Motion and Real Cinema, then the TV simply duplicates frames to get to 120Hz.
Over in the audio realm, the setup menu includes five preset audio modes and an EQ function to fine-tune performance. You also get balance and lip-sync controls, plus the ability to enable or disable SRS TruSurround and TruVolume (which helps minimize level discrepancies between sources).
This was my first experience with the Vizio Internet Apps platform, and I found it to be well designed and intuitive to use. You can launch the service by pressing the remote’s VIA button, which brings up a toolbar along the bottom of the screen. The main source content is slightly window-boxed so that you can still see the full image above the toolbar. Use the arrow buttons to move through the various VIA options and hit OK to access the one you want. If you launch an entertainment app like Netflix or VUDU, your current source is replaced with the app’s interface. However, with many of the Yahoo widgets and the social-networking apps like Twitter and Facebook, the user interface pops up along the left side of the screen. The main source is further window-boxed to the right so that you can still see the whole image while you navigate the app. Obviously, the remote’s QWERTY keyboard is a huge help when searching for content or inputting text via Twitter, Facebook, etc.
One final note: As long as the TV is connected to the network, it will automatically check for and perform firmware updates as they become available. The setup menu doesn’t include an option to perform manual firmware updates.
The main benefit of local dimming in an LED-based LCD is that it helps the TV produce deeper black areas without having to cut image brightness in the process. Vizio says that this year’s models can now go to a full 100 percent black (as opposed to 95 percent in previous models). Indeed, the XVT473SV was able to produce very deep blacks in demo scenes from Signs (Buena Vista Home Entertainment), Casino Royale (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), and The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Buena Vista Home Entertainment). When I reviewed Vizio’s first-generation local-dimming model last year (the VF551XVT), I found that you still had to minimize the backlight to get a truly deep black, which limited contrast. The new XVT473SV is better able to produce deep blacks at a higher backlight setting. As I mentioned above, I set the backlight at about 20 percent and still got a very good combination of black level and brightness, resulting in a rich-looking image with great depth and dimension.
Read more about the Vizio VCT473SV’s performance on Page 2.
I had Panasonic’s TC-P50GT25 plasma on hand, so I decided to do some
side-by-side comparisons. (The GT25 is a 3D TV and thus more expensive,
but its 2D performance is quite similar to that of the TC-P50G25, which
is close to the Vizio’s price.) Obviously the Vizio can be much
brighter than the plasma, but I tried to match brightness levels for my
comparison. Letterbox bars were a similar shade of black on both TVs,
and the base black level and contrast were also similar (i.e., very
good), but the Vizio definitely had an advantage when reproducing
specific areas of black within the demo scenes. Both models did an
excellent job revealing fine black details, but the plasma had a slight
edge in this respect. I would’ve liked the flexibility to adjust the
gamma and compare the results.
As I mentioned, the XVT473SV offers a neutral color palette
with the color enhancement turned off. Both the color temperature and
the color points appear to be close to reference standards. Skintones
looked natural, with no red push. In chapter five of The Corpse Bride
(Buena Vista Home Entertainment), the snow actually looked white, while
the nighttime skies remained neutral, instead of veering excessively
blue or purple. The color enhancement control makes it easy to
experiment with other color options: You can opt for richer color or
add more green to the image to see what you prefer. Of course,
white-balance controls are also available to more precisely fine-tune
the color temperature.
With both HDTV and Blu-ray content, the XVT473SV served up a
sharp, detailed image, and I appreciated how clean the picture was,
with minimal digital noise in either HD or SD content. As for the
Smooth Motion technology, test patterns from my FPD Benchmark Software
Blu-ray disc confirmed that enabling the function will reduce motion
blur. Switching Smooth Motion from off to low resulted in noticeably
cleaner text patterns and better performance in the motion resolution
test (although the Panasonic plasma still offered better motion
resolution). Of course, along with that improved motion resolution
comes the smoothing effects of motion interpolation, of which I am
usually not a fan. The good news is, the XVT473SV offers a nice level
of flexibility to tailor the effect through different Smooth Motion and
Real Cinema combinations. If you like that super-smooth, video-like
look, you can set Smooth Motion and Real Cinema to higher levels and
get a more pronounced effect. As for me, I set Smooth Motion to low and
turned off Real Cinema, and I was quite pleased with the subtle result.
My husband is usually quick to complain about smooth modes, and he
never noticed the subtle effect of the low mode. This mode worked well
with both DVD/Blu-ray movies and with my DirecTV box, which isn’t
always the case.
The XVT473SV’s matte screen means you don’t
have to worry about light reflections during the day or in a bright
room. Those reflective screens are designed to reject light and make
blacks look deeper, but the XVT473SV still does a respectable job
reproducing a dark black in a brighter environment.
Competition and Comparison
Compare the Vizio XVT473SV with its competition by reading the reviews for the LG 47LE8500 LED LCD, Toshiba 46SV670U LED LCD, and Panasonic TC-P50G25 Plasma. Learn more about LED-based LCDs by visiting our LCD HDTV section.
One of the primary issues with a full-array LED backlight system
that uses local dimming is that, because the number of LEDs is not a
1:1 ratio with the number of pixels, the lighting is imprecise. You’ll
sometimes notice a glow around bright items–for instance, white text
on a black background or a bright moon hanging in a dark sky. Vizio has
added more zones to this year’s LED backlight system (going from 120 to
160), which should produce a more precise effect. However, that did not
prove to be the case. The XVT473SV produced more glow than recent
local-dimming models I’ve reviewed. In last year’s review of the
VF551XVT, I commented that the TV exhibited less glow than similar
models. What’s changed? Perhaps the LEDs’ ability to go to a full black
makes the glow more noticeable? In several of my demos, the glow was
simply a minor distraction, but it sometimes affected image saturation.
For instance, in chapter one of The Bourne Supremacy (Universal Home
Video), Jason and Marie stand on an outdoor balcony at night. The scene
contains a complex mix of light and dark content all jumbled together.
A lot of glow bled into the black areas that resided next to the
illuminated objects, but more troublesome was the fact that the glow
actually washed out the actors’ faces, as well as other objects in the
scene. It almost created a soft-lighting effect. I tried turning the
backlight all the way down to see it that lessened the problem, but it
didn’t. This issue is obviously more of a concern with darker DVD and
Blu-ray movies than with bright HDTV content, and even then it didn’t
occur with every dark scene I watched.
The XVT473SV’s handling
of 480i sources isn’t as good as it could be. The TV produced a solid
but not excellent level of detail when upconverting 480i to 1080p, but
it struggled in the deinterlacing department. Even though it passed the
deinterlacing tests on the HQV Benchmark DVD (Silicon Optix), it did a
very poor job with my real-world DVD torture tests–the Coliseum
flyover in chapter 12 of Gladiator (DreamWorks Home Entertainment) and
the window blinds in chapter four of The Bourne Identity (Universal
Home Video)–creating a lot of moiré and jaggies. If you still watch a
fair amount of standard-definition content, you might want to let your
source devices handle the upconversion or mate this TV with a good
outboard video processor.
This LCD uses in-plane switching technology, which changes the
orientation of the liquid crystals to improve side-to-side viewing
angles. With brighter content, the XVT473SV’s image saturation held up
better at wide angles than other LCDs I’ve tested (although it still
wasn’t as good as you get with plasma displays). However, darker scenes
did not hold up well at wide angles, primarily because the LED glowing
issue was even more pronounced. Plus, the lack of a swiveling stand
means you can’t easily adjust the TV’s angle; you might want to invest
in an adjustable wall-mount that makes it easier to direct the TV
toward your viewing position.
Finally, the mute and info buttons
on my remote stopped working about a week into my review. All of the
other buttons continued to work fine, but those two no longer
functioned. Now, I wasn’t the first person to review this sample, so
who knows what that remote has been through; still, it does speak of
build quality and longevity.
The Vizio XVT473SV is definitely one of
the best deals in town for a higher-performing LCD that uses a
full-array LED backlight system with local dimming. This TV reveals
both the advantages and disadvantages of that technology–i.e., great
overall contrast and deep blacks on the plus side, imprecise shading
and glow on the downside. Because of the LED glowing issue, the
XVT473SV may not be the best choice for a dedicated theater-room
display on which you plan to primarily watch movies in a completely
dark room. However, it would make a fantastic all-purpose display for
HDTV, sports, and casual movie watching. Add in the great VIA Web
platform–with its access to all the best VOD, music, and
social-networking apps–and the convenience of integrated WiFi so you
don’t have to run an Ethernet cable, and the XVT473SV is a TV not to be