Last week, I got to see prototypes of some of VIZIO’s new XVT line of LCD 1080p HDTVs. These new models will ship this summer and fall. There will be 47″ and 55″ models with LED backlights that incorporate a local dimming feature for increased contrast, and in addition to these two, a 42″ model will offer “240 scenes per second (SPS)” performance. This is really the standard 60 frames per second with one interpolated frame added between each one, for 120 frames, and then the backlight is strobed twice for each frame. The purpose is to decrease the motion blur for the LCD panel. Whether it improves the motion performance over the other 120 Hz designs or not is a difficult call, but it’s clearly better than the standard 60 Hz models.
While the motion blur reduction and the LED backlights are nice, the part that really caught my interest were the three sets that will have VIA: VIZION Internet Apps. These 42″, 47″, and 55″ sets connect directly to the Internet through a wired or wireless Ethernet connection. This connection supports widgets that can show you information such as weather forecasts, sports scores, or stock prices, much like some sets from other brands. VIA also makes it easy to access other content on the Web, however. VIZIO had already announced services including Amazon Video on Demand, Blockbuster on Demand, Netflix, Pandora, and Rhapsody. Last week, the company announced new support for additional connections, including Twitter, eBay, Facebook, Revision3, Showtime, and Vudu. This means that you’ll be able to access an enormous amount of streaming content — much of it available in HD resolution — directly from the Internet without the need for a separate computer or set top box. The user interface for selecting the different services is easy to use and customizable, so you can choose which ones you want to have available.
Perhaps the best part of this is that VIZIO is not charging extra for the VIA feature. The 55″ VF551XVT with LED backlight and 240 SPS is slated to ship in September with an MSRP of $2,199.99 (which is an aggressively low price for an LED backlight model of this size). When the VIA-enabled VF552XVT ships in December, it will have the same price. The 42″ model with the VIA support (and 240 SPS but no LED backlight) SV422XVT is scheduled to ship in November with an MSRP of $1,199.99.
VIZIO is stepping up its game with increased performance and added features while maintaining its competitive price position.