|Vizio VM60P 60-inch Plasma HDTV|
|Home Theater Flat Panel HDTVs Plasma HDTVs|
|Written by Andrew Robinson|
|Sunday, 01 July 2007|
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Movies And Television
I kicked things off with some standard-definition DVD fare, opting for I, Robot (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) starring the ever-charismatic Will Smith. I, Robot, with its futuristic steely blue sets, warm skin tones and copious amounts of CG action, proved to be a formidable test for the VM60P. The first thing I noticed was the VM60P’s black levels, which were very deep, bordering on inky black and extremely well-defined. Even during the scene in the storage yard, the VM60P had little trouble with differentiating the varying levels of absolute black on up through the middle grays displayed in the endless rows of shipping containers. The stark vertical and horizontal lines presented by the hundreds of containers also proved easy for the VM60P, as I could not detect any stair-stepping or “jaggies” as the camera panned over the vast expanse. The VM60P did have a bit of trouble, however, when the camera stopped moving and held the stationary texture of an apartment wall. During the few static shots in the film, pixilation and noise could be detected in the simplest, most static forms in the frame. However, I found that as I moved my viewing distance back, these effects were less noticeable. Skin tones were rich and wonderfully saturated. I, Robot is an extremely dense film in terms of the image (or plot, depending on how you look at it) and it can be easy for a display to “plug up” on the skin tones, making the actors look a little too one-dimensional. The VM60P didn’t seem to suffer from this at all in my system, as all of the actors remained incredibly lifelike in their presentation. The NS-5’s semi-translucent “skin” was beautifully rendered and showed no signs of blooming, even when presented with harsh daylight. Overall detail was rather good for a set of its size and edge fidelity was as good as I’ve seen in or around the VM60P’s price range. Obviously, the VM60P can offer a lot more in terms of resolution, but I was pleased with how well it did with more standard-definition material, provided that I adhered to a proper viewing distance, as well as minor calibration.
Next, I cued up an episode of House (Fox Television) in 720p high definition. The VM60P’s image clearly improved across the board with the added bump in resolution provided by Fox’s superb high-definition feed in my area. The sets were extremely well detailed and the overall sense of depth to the image was incredible. Again, the often kinetic camera movements were no problem for the VM60P’s internal hardware, as it always kicked back a seamless, smooth image, with very few signs of digital compression. Even on static shots, the pixilation and noise I noticed with the SD material had all but vanished. The skin tones looked better still, with an added boost in surface detail and roundness, which helped in allowing the actors to seemingly pop off the screen. Black levels were very good and transitioned nicely into the middle values without excess noise, an area I’ve been rather critical of with prior Vizio plasmas. While the issue isn’t fully resolved, Vizio is getting better with each new display. The whites were crisp and clear but, at least with House, they did appear tinted ever so slightly blue, despite my calibrations.
Next I opted for The Bourne Supremacy (Universal Studios Home Video) on HD DVD. Again, as the source material improved, so did the VM60P’s picture quality. Honestly, if you’re going to buy a set as large as the VM60P, you’re going to want to feed it the very best, for anything less would simply be uncivilized. Across the board, the VM60P’s image improved dramatically with The Bourne Supremacy. Black levels were deeper, more richly defined and, above all, noise-free in the transitions. Static shots showed no signs of compression or excess grain. Skin tones, especially in the sunlight during the film’s opening few minutes, were incredibly lifelike and natural. Even when the mood of the film turned dark and cold, the skin tones remained accurately affected by the lighting, instead of appearing strangely de-saturated and pasty. The white values were crisp and clear and were extremely impressive during the kitchen fight scene. The mini-blinds’ stark contrast with the outside sun proved of little worry for the VM60P, as it rendered the entire chaotic scene virtually free of from motion artifacts. The entire film felt film-like and natural, without any of the added glossiness or over-saturation usually found in more budget-conscious HD displays.
I ended my time with the VM60P with another great HD DVD transfer, Ron Howard’s boxing biopic Cinderella Man (Universal Studios Home Video) starring Russell Crowe. The film overall has an intentional sepia tone to it, almost as if the film was shot on parchment. While I’ve seen this coloring done right in the past, all too often, with budget plasmas (and some LCDs), the image is way too yellow as the frame and everything in it appears rather jaundiced. While the VM60P’s image wasn’t quite as accurate color-wise as the most expensive plasmas on the market today, it was exceptionally better than its direct competition, foregoing the tendency to shift way yellow for a more de-saturated approach. Needless to say, it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the film by any means. There are a few scenes in Cinderella Man that don’t share its overall sepia tint, mainly the scenes having to deal with the Depression-era Hoovervilles. The stark contrast and cold hues of the makeshift cardboard town was wonderfully detailed and rife with texture through the VM60P. Again, the harsh, contrasting lines of the tattered dwellings were no problem for the VM60P from my viewing position, although if I sat closer to the screen, I could make out some stair-stepping and noise in the furthest reaches of the image. The color red was incredibly punchy and stood out in stark contrast to the film’s all but monochromatic color scheme. I found nothing overtly objectionable about the VM60P’s image as I finished my evaluation with Cinderella Man. I’d like to point out that, while I never advocate the use of a display’s internal speakers as your primary audio device, the VM60P’s internal speakers are exceptionally good, providing surprisingly strong bass response and virtual surround sound decoding.