Our first step was to adjust the picture for optimal performance in our dark lab. The GV46L HDTV lacks specific presets for color temperature, but each of its five picture presets did deliver different color-temperature results. None of them was particularly accurate, but the Custom mode was least objectionable (we used it for the Before numbers in the Geek box, below), although it was much too bright for comfortable viewing in our darkened room. We did adjust the advanced controls for the best color temperature and again had to make a compromise because the Vizio's color fluctuated so much depending on brightness. We settled on calibrating mid- and low tones as accurately as possible at the expense of bluer bright areas, but the results were much less satisfying than we've achieved on other LCDs, from Vizio or otherwise. For our full user-menu controls, check out Tips & Tricks, above.
After adjusting the Vizio, we sat back to watch some scenes from The Last Samurai on HD-DVD and were able to compare the Vizio GV46L HDTV directly to a few other LCDs we had on hand: the JVC LT-40FN97, the Samsung LN-S4096D, the Sharp LC-46D6U, and the Westinghouse LVW-47w1. All of these sets are 1080p models that cost more than the Vizio, but even with those considerations, we felt the GV46L HDTV fell a bit short. Its black levels were significantly brighter than any of them, so the letterbox bars above and below the image appeared lighter, and dark scenes, such as when the group of Samurai charge the hapless musket wielders, lacked the punchy impact that deeper black levels can deliver. Our measurements confirmed that the GV46L's black levels were also lighter than those of the company's 42-inch LCDs.
Decent black levels also lead to decent saturation, and while the Vizio's colors were also less punchy as a result of its lighter blacks, our main complaint color-wise had to do with the set's inaccurate color temperature (a.k.a. grayscale). Specifically, dark areas of the picture became too red and bright areas too blue, regardless of the changes we made. In the scene that where Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe) contemplates seppuku, neutral areas such as the rice paper walls and the woven tatami mats appeared too red, as did the actors' faces. Black and near-black areas such as shadows, on the other hand, were tinged too blue. We'd reduced the color control to compensate for the GV46L's slight red push and primary colors were commendably accurate, but the discoloring effects of the uneven grayscale made the colors in most scenes seem off.
Many LCD TVs that we've tested recently don't change the image quality much when viewed from off-angle, but in comparison, the GV46L HDTV did. When we sat on either end of the couch, we noticed that the opposite side of the screen became lighter and slightly more red than the rest, and the effect increased the farther off-angle we moved. The other LCDs in the room again performed better in this regard. We also noticed that, like a lot of flat LCDs we've tested, the Vizio's screen wasn't uniform across its surface; in this case, the edges were brighter then the middle when seen from straight on. As with all other LCDs, the GV46L reflected less room light than a plasma, such as the Panasonic TH-50PH9UK we had on hand.
Since the other models have 1080p native resolution, you might expect them to appear much sharper than the Vizio, but that wasn't the case. Sure, in the most highly detailed areas of Samurai, an incredibly sharp source, we did see slightly more detail; the weave in the tatami mat was a bit clearer in one scene, and the thatch of a rooftop appeared slightly more detailed in another. Overall, however, we had to look very hard to see the difference, even on similarly sized sets such as the Sharp and the Westinghouse. As ever, differences in native resolution were much harder to discern than differences in color or contrast ratio (black level).
The front of the Vizio GV46L HDTV declares the presence of Faroudjia's DCDi processing, so we expected good things out of its standard-def performance, and for the most part, the Vizio delivered. Going through the tests on the HQV Benchmark DVD, the Vizio smoothed jagged edges as well as any TV we've tested and engaged 2:3 pull-down quickly. We did notice that we had to increase the sharpness control to see all of the detail in a distant stone bridge, for example, which makes the set's global sharpness setting a problem. When set to maximum, the Motion noise reduction slider did an excellent job of ridding low-quality video of snowy, moving motes in the background, but unfortunately, large-scale motion across the image became fuzzy and ghosted when we set the slider very high. We ended up setting it at 4, which did little to clean up the noise but was at least less prone to ghosting, where a faint afterimage trails the main image. The Digital noise reduction setting didn't do much that we could discern.
|Before color temp (20/80)||5650/8402K||Poor|
|After color temp||8661/7842K||Poor|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 1333K||Poor|
|After grayscale variation||+/- 898K||Poor|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.642/0.327||Good|
|Color of green||0.269/0.589||Average|
|Color of blue||0.143/0.058||Good|
|Black-level retention||All patterns stable||Good|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||Yes||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Yes||Good|
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