Update 2/12/10: All three models are now available through Amazon and a number of other online retailers. Vizio took an interesting approach to rolling these models out. The first run of models was offered exclusively to "VIA VIP members" who filled out an online application to get their place in line for these models -- read the full story from Gary (a lucky recipient of one of the first models) in the comments section below.
A couple of weeks ago, we previewed the Vizio XVT
line of LCD televisions. The XVT line consists of televisions with high-end features meant to lure consumers to Vizio's larger-sized televisions. In that preview, we didn't touch on three very important XVT televisions, ones that deserve their own showcase.
The Vizio SV422XVT, SV472XVT and VF552XVT LCD televisions are being called 'connected' HDTVs because of their ability to link up with your home Internet connection and serve up streaming video content directly from the Web. Similar to efforts being undertaken by Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, and LG, these connected HDTVs allow viewers to access streaming content from a variety of impressive partners. Vizio is hoping to stand out from the crowd, however, but introducing some very forward-thinking innovations in their connected sets.
One major difference between the Vizio sets and their peers is the inclusion of 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking. Where most 'connected' TVs require a direct, wired Ethernet hookup, the Vizio televisions can access your home network wirelessly. That means no annoying, unsightly CAT5 cables reaching from your router to your television.
An Innovative Remote Control
Also departing from established norms is the Vizio remote control for these televisions. In an effort to provide greater access and versatility, the new Vizio control will feature a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, similar to the ones found on smart phones. That's a pretty big step, one that will no doubt be emulated in the coming years, once Internet TV begins to really take hold.
The Goods: Internet Content Streaming Direct to the TV
The Vizio connected TVs will allow viewers to watch videos from Netflix, Blockbuster OnDemand, Showtime, and Vudu, among others, while also providing access to Web applications like Facebook, Flickr, and Pandora. There's no word on that rumored Hulu partnership, so keep your fingers crossed.
Conclusion: Very Promising
The SV422XVT, SV472XVT and VF552XVT have manufacturer's suggested retail prices of $1,199, $1,699, and $2,199, respectively. That's pretty average considering all the fancy new technology found in these televisions. The 47 and 55-inch models also feature LED backlights that can utilize local dimming to provide deeper, darker blacks and crisper whites without sacrificing contrast. The 42-inch model does not have an LED backlight. All in all, Vizio's connected TVs are definitely worth keeping an eye on, and if they turn up to be as good as they sound upon release, it could give them a big head start on this growing trend toward Web-enabled TV.