Vizio lacks an "app store" and any paid-app choices, but the Yahoo Connected TV Store (the VIA engine is based on Yahoo widgets) has plenty of free, somewhat useful options like AOL HD, eBay, Fandango (with ticket purchasing), iHeartRadio, SnagFilms, Vimeo, Wealth TV 3D, and WSJ Live. The remainder of the more than 150 other apps are inevitably less useful, including umpteen apps devoted to local news channels.
Picture settings: The E601i-A3 has Vizio's trademark list of picture modes named after sports -- Football, Golf, Baseball, and Basketball -- that have little to do with improving image quality when watching those sports. Advanced settings include two-point color temperature and a couple of dejudder settings, along with the option to adjust the ambient light sensor and global dimming on the backlight.
It doesn't have a color management system, gamma presets, or more-involved grayscale controls, so the set isn't as friendly to picture-tweakers as sets from LG and Samsung. It's about as tweakable as Sharp's sets, and is more so than Panasonic's.
Connectivity: The back presents a strength for the E601i-A3, with four HDMI ports, one component-video port (shared with the single composite video port), a PC input, and two USB ports.
The Vizio E601i-A3 delivered a workmanlike picture, albeit one roughly as good as you see on many LED TVs that cost a lot more. That said, it still couldn't match the level of picture quality seen on its chief 60-inch LED competitor from Sharp, let alone on Panasonic's excellent U50 plasma. The Vizio's black levels were relatively unconvincing and it showed some uniformity and off-angle-viewing issues. On the other hand, it still warrants a score of "good" in this category, mainly by virtue of accurate color and solid performance in bright rooms.
Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.
|Comparison models (details)|
|Sharp LC-60LE640U||60-inch edge-lit LED|
|Samsung UN60ES6500||60-inch edge-lit LED|
|Vizio M3D550KD||55-inch edge-lit LED|
|Samsung UN46EH6000||46-inch full-array LED|
|Sony KDL-46EX640||46-inch edge-lit LED|
|Panasonic TC-P50U50||50-inch plasma|
|Panasonic TC-P65VT50 (reference)||65-inch plasma|
Black level: The Vizio was one of the least impressive sets in our lineup at reproducing a deep shade of black, falling short of all but the Sony EX640 and Samsung EH6000 in this area. Viewed next to the Sharp, its natural competitor, the E601i-A3 showed more washed-out and less punchy dark areas, like the nighttime ship scenes in chapter 5 of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." The letterbox bars and dark objects, like Will's shirt as he approaches Elizabeth (29:39), were lighter in our dark room, robbing them of some impact. The Samsung UNES6500 wasn't much better in terms of black level, however.
Details in shadows, such as the clothing of the crew (30:52), looked good, with few traces of murkiness or too-bright transitions from dark to light areas.
Color accuracy: The E601i-A3's main picture quality strength is its accurate color in all but the darkest areas. The face of Elizabeth in the moonlight came closer to our reference than on any of the other TVs, and in particular I appreciated the lack of bluish tinge seen on sets like the other Vizio and the Sony EX640. The Sharp and Samsung were also quite close, however, and while the U50's picture looked good its slight greenish cast helped put the E601i-A3 on top. Later on the beach under bright sunlight (40:18) Elizabeth's skin tone again looked better than on the other sets. I did see a slight greenish tint in some areas like the sky behind Jack (40:37) that wasn't visible on the reference or the other sets, but that's a minor hiccup.
More obvious was the E601i-A3's discoloration, specifically bluish tinge, in black areas like the letterbox bars. It was more obvious than on the Sharp or the other Vizio, and as usual the plasmas didn't have this problem. That said, both the Samsungs and the Sony showed even more discolored blacks.
Video processing: The E601i-A3 acquitted itself well and even managed to outperform the M3D0KD in this category, primarily because it rendered 1080p/24 sources with the proper film cadence. When I watched the helicopter flyover from chapter 7 of "I Am Legend," for example, the E601i-A3 delivered the smooth but not soap-opera-like look of film, while the other Vizio, along with the Sharp and the U50, evinced the stuttering cadence indicative of 3:2 pulldown.
The Vizio has two settings that affect cadence/smoothness, named Smooth Motion Effect (SME) and Real Cinema Mode (RCM), and each has three positions. Among the possible combinations, the only one that rendered behavior as described above was Off/Off for both.
The other SME settings introduce some level of artificial-looking smoothing/dejudder to film-based sources. As usual the Low/Medium/High options got progressively smoother. Meanwhile Real Cinema Mode (RCM) -- disabled when you turn off SME -- has Precision, Smooth, and Off settings of its own. Off introduced the least smoothing but did show that stuttering cadence; while Precision and Smooth, which introduced excessive smoothing again, looked basically the same to my eyes.
As usual there's a trade-off: if you minimize smoothing by using Off/Off, the E601i-A3 scores basically the same as a 60Hz TV on our motion resolution test. Engaging any of the smoothing modes causes that score to improve. I'll personally take a smoothing-free image over a better motion resolution score any day because for me it's quite difficult to see any blurring in program material, even when the E601i-A3 is set to Off/Off.
Uniformity: I didn't notice the same level of uniformity issues on the Vizio as plagued the Samsung ES6500 and the Sony, for example, but the E601i-A3 was third-worst in our lineup after these two. The most noticeable brighter area on the screen was in the lower-right corner, which was rather obvious in the letterbox bar. I didn't really notice the other brighter cloud, around the upper-left corner, until the film faded to black after the ship plunged over the watery precipice (32:29).
The E601i-A3 also lost black-level fidelity when seen from off-angle faster then the M3D0KD, the Samsung ES6500, or the Sharp. I did appreciate that its color stayed relatively true, however, instead of dipping into blue or red as I saw on a few of the other sets.
Bright lighting: Although not quite as aggressively matte as the Sharp's screen, the Vizio E601i-A3's screen did a similarly superb job under the lights. It outdid the M3D0KD and the ES6500 at deadening reflections, although it didn't do quite as well at preserving black level. In any case, along with the other LCDs it performed much better than the Panasonic U50 with room lights up.
|Geek Box: Test||Result||Score|
|Black luminance (0%)||0.0091||Average|
|Near-black x/y (5%)||0.2866/0.2939||Poor|
|Dark gray x/y (20%)||0.3134/0.3298||Good|
|Bright gray x/y (70%)||0.3124/0.3287||Good|
|Before avg. color temp.||6332||Average|
|After avg. color temp.||6540||Good|
|Red lum. error (de94_L)||2.6177||Average|
|Green lum. error (de94_L)||0.0892||Good|
|Blue lum. error (de94_L)||2.1247||Average|
|Cyan hue x/y||0.2184/0.3327||Good|
|Magenta hue x/y||0.3173/0.1554||Good|
|Yellow hue x/y||0.4247/0.51||Good|
|1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)||Pass||Good|
|1080i Deinterlacing (film)||Pass||Good|
|Motion resolution (max)||300||Poor|
|Motion resolution (dejudder off)||600||Average|