In 2010, Philips announced the first native Cinemascope television, the Cinema 21:9 screen, and while other parts of the world were lucky enough to be able to buy it shortly thereafter the US is still waiting. But at CES 2011 there was a glimmer of hope, Vizio announced it would bring its own 21:9 screen to the market, and then... nothing. Until now.
Unlike the sensibly named Philips Cinema 21:9 though, the Vizio uses the alphabet soup approach with its XVT3D580CM model name. Ok, it's also called the "CinemaWide", but name aside, this is actually quite an elegant television. The styling might be a little old-hat, but turn it on and you can't help but be swept away by movies on this uniquely-shaped screen.
With a screen this unusual there is bound to be some kind of markup, and based on my testing the TV performs at the same level as a TV half the price (Sharp LE640 series), but yet still better than Samsung's ES8000. Due to its ability to squeeze out the black bars the apparent contrast is higher, and its local dimming system is able to provide good levels of contrast without sacrificing shadow detail.
The Vizio's biggest issue is with its main feature: the TV doesn't have a dedicated "wide" mode and changes the screen size by auto-detection, and it doesn't always work properly. If the TV had a a dedicated 21:9 mode it would make this a serious consideration for video enthusiasts, but it's on-the-fly changes don't always work with some shunting between fullscreen and the much smaller 16:9 mode.
If you're looking for a statement piece this TV is quite unusual, and movies are a lot of fun...when they work. But if picture quality is a concern then the Panasonic 65-inch VT50 will give you a bigger picture with CinemaScope movies for the same price and a better one at that.
July 16, 2012 2:10 PM PDT
Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET
| Caption by: Ty Pendlebury
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