One of the nice things about this Vizio is the fact that you can remove the speakers if you want to slim down the set's look and are planning to use an external audio system anyway. The GV46L HDTV measures 44.4 by 31 by 10.5 inches (WHD) with speakers and stand attached, and it weighs 82 pounds. Stripped of stand and speakers, it comes in at 44.4 by 26.5 by 4.8 inches, and 68 pounds. As do most other manufacturers, Vizio sells wall-mount kits if you want to go that route.
Given their similarities in outward appearance, we were surprised to find that the GV46L HDTV's menu is different from that of the GV42L. The larger set's menu system is still pretty basic-looking but covers everything you need in a logical fashion. Vizio includes the same many-buttoned remote, however, so all 51 of the keys are backlit. That makes finding a certain key in the dark less tiresome than it would be otherwise, but what we'd really like to see is better differentiation among the many buttons. We did appreciate the direct-access keys for different inputs, however, and the fact that the clicker can command three other pieces of gear. Like many LCD panels and most 50-inch plasmas, the Vizio GV46L HDTV has a native resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. That's not as many as you'll find on higher-end 1080p LCDs, but it's still enough to display every detail of incoming 720p HDTV programming. All sources, be they 1080i or 720p HDTV, DVD, standard-def TV, or computer, are scaled to fit the native resolution.
As it has with previous panels, Vizio endowed the GV46L HDTV with a generous selection of conveniences. They include picture-in-picture, which also offers a side-by-side option, as well as a freeze mode that's handy for catching quick information. Vizio's selection of aspect ratio controls is average: three for high-def sources and four for standard-def. And as its name indicates, the GV46L HDTV is in fact a full HDTV, meaning that it includes an ATSC tuner for grabbing over-the-air high-def and digital stations.
In terms of picture-affecting options, the GV46L HDTV starts with five different preset picture modes, called Vivid, Movie, Game, Sport and Custom. Of the five, the only one you can adjust is Custom, but happily, you can select different custom picture settings for each input (a.k.a. independent input memories). Our one complaint with the picture memory system is that the controls for sharpness and hue (tint) are not independent per input. This becomes an issue if you adjust, say, an HDMI input for high-quality HD sources, turning down the sharpness control to eliminate edge enhancement, because you'll have to sacrifice sharpness in lower-quality SD sources, which would ideally have a higher sharpness setting.
A variety of other picture controls are available, with the notable exception of color temperature presets. We did appreciate the ability to adjust red, green, and blue color temperature, although the results weren't as effective as we'd like (see Performance for details). There's a set of noise reduction controls, a flesh-tone control that's best left off since it just seemed to accentuate red too much; a dynamic contrast control that affects contrast on the fly, so we left it off; and a three-step backlight adjustment.
Control over the backlight is usually a welcome sign in LCD TVs, but on the GV46L HDTV, it behaved badly. When its backlight was set to either of the nondefault positions, namely Low and Medium, the TV produced a loud humming sound; lower-pitched in Low and slightly higher but still clearly audible in Medium. We ended up leaving it in the High position, which, while silent, did result in black levels that were slightly inferior to the other two settings. We stress the word slightly, however; reducing the backlight didn't improve the GV46L's black-level performance enough to be a big deal. When we asked Vizio about the issue they said that the noise we heard was normal--in other words, other GV46L HDTV models will exhibit the same behavior.
The Vizio GV46L HDTV boasts a commendable array of inputs for such a budget big-screen. There are two HDMI ports, a pair of component-video inputs, and a PC input that can handle sources up to the full native resolution of the TV (1,366x768). Both of the HDMI ports have audio inputs, a welcome sight for people connecting DVI equipment. Two A/V inputs with composite and S-Video, a single RF style antenna input, a headphone jack, and an analog audio output complete the connectivity suite. The only real missing link is a set of side-panel inputs for easy temporary connections. As we mentioned, the Vizio GV46L HDTV's overall picture quality wasn't at the level of the company's 42-inch LCDs, delivering lighter blacks and less-accurate colors. Performance via the standard-def inputs was excellent, however, perhaps due to the GV46L HDTV's DCDi processing. Note that you won't get the benefit of this processing if your source, such as an HD cable or satellite box or a DVD player, performs the upconversion to high-def itself.