Editors' note: The rating on this review has been lowered because of changes in the competitive marketplace.
As Vizio matures as a TV brand, it continues to increase product diversity, which translates into models like the VOJ370F. This set is the company's step-up 37-inch model, differentiated from less expensive versions by 1080p resolution and "Java" styling. The resolution, as we are so fond of saying, won't make much difference with non-PC sources, but that doesn't spoil an otherwise impressive performance by this midsize LCD. The VOJ370F surpassed the other LCDs in our comparison with its color accuracy, which highlights its all-around solid picture quality. Granted, this set does cost more than an entry-level 720p 37-inch LCD, but not my much.
Lest you read the word "java" in Vizio's product literature or see an image that makes the TV seem brown as a nonfat latte, don't worry. In person the VOJ370F is more French Roast with no milk, and in dark lighting it looks as black as any TV. The frame around the screen is of medium thickness, matte in finish and perforated with hundreds of tiny holes, although only the thicker section on the bottom conceals speakers.
To further differentiate the Java from the pack, a golden-colored reflective strip runs along the bottom of the frame. Vizio's trademark logo glows bluish-white when the TV's on and fades to orange when it's turned off, and its illumination cannot be quenched. All told, the VOJ370F looks stylish enough, although that gold strip and the big row of logos on the left side prevent it from earning an adjective like "understated."
Including the matching stand the TV measures 36.3 inches wide by 25 inches high by 8.6 inches deep and weighs 36.6 pounds. Remove the stand and dimensions shrink to 36.3 inches wide by 23.8 inches high by 3.9 inches deep and its weight drops to 35 pounds.
The included remote control has a very simple layout--which we appreciated--but we were frustrated by some other design snags. The directional pad is centrally located, but it doubles as both channel and volume control; we prefer separate, dedicated button rockers. We were initially thrown off by the center "V" button, which brings up the menu and also doubles as an "OK" button in the menus. The clicker lacks a dedicated button to switch between aspect ratios, so you'll have to dig into the menu to change modes. On the upside, we liked the individual buttons to access inputs, although it's somewhat confusing that they're lumped in with other functions like "mute" and "last."
There are nine different picture modes on the VOJ370F, which is much more than you'll find on other TVs. That's because Vizio offers up custom picture settings for different types of sports, so there are separate picture modes for baseball, football, and golf (hockey fans, as usual, are ignored). As you might expect, the modes don't actually enhance different sports--the settings generally just exaggerate green and adjust the sharpness. And more disappointing is the fact that the picture modes are not independent per input.
We liked that Vizio included adjustments for all four of the color-temperature presets, letting you tweak them to your liking. There's also a range of options that should mostly be left off for high-quality sources. There are three strengths of noise reduction, four Color Enhancement modes (each messes with color decoding; we preferred Off, since it didn't introduce red push), an Advanced Adaptive Luma setting that adjusts gamma in dark areas (again, Off proved best), and an Enhanced Contrast Ratio setting we left off, since it caused black levels to fluctuate according to program content.
We were disappointed, on the other hand, to learn that the VOJ370F only offers two choices for aspect ratio on HD sources, and as we mentioned above the remote lacks a dedicated key to toggle between them. The default "Full" mode does map 1080i and 1080p sources directly to the screen's native resolution--a good thing--but we would have liked to see another mode that introduced some overscan to deal with channels that introduce interference along the extreme edges. For standard-definition sources, there are four aspect ratio options, but again you'll have to dig into the setup menu to change them.
The VOJ370F's connectivity suite is fully packed. The rear panel houses two HDMI inputs, a VGA-style PC input, a component video input, and an AV input that offers both composite and S-Video. The side panel offers up another HDMI input, along with an additional component and AV input (only composite). It's worth noting that the side component and AV inputs share an audio input, so you'll have to choose one or the other.