|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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Perhaps not since the industrial revolution has rapid technological growth been as commonplace as it is in today’s red-hot flat-panel HDTV marketplace. Less than five years ago, a 42-inch plasma was a $20,000 toy only for the wealthiest. Today, seemingly anyone and everyone with a club is heading down to Costco, Sam’s Club and any number of mass market retailers to buy a big, beautiful, flat HDTV for prices that seem impossibly low. Leading this “video for the people” movement is, without question, Vizio.
Vizio as a brand is working on becoming a household name, like Sony, Panasonic or even Kirkland, continuing to release plasma and LCD displays that seem to defy the laws of economics. Take, for instance, their former top dog, the P50, released less than two years ago for what was at the time an amazingly reasonable $2,500 retail price. Now, in 2007, the same P50 sells direct from Vizio’s own website for a stellar $1,499. More impressive still is that those figures continue to drop at local retailers nationwide. Vizio has released yet another wolf in sheep’s clothing, the all new VM60P, which is the largest display Vizio has made to date, at 60 inches diagonal, with a retail price of a mere $2,499, sold retail as well as online. Incredible, you say? Not if you’re Vizio.
The VM60P is an all-new design for Vizio. Gone is the piano black and silver façade that we’ve grown accustomed to. The VM60P sports a much more streamlined or, dare I say, more elegant design, with its bronze-toned, brushed aluminum frame and Samsung-esqe hidden speaker. To me, the VM60P represents a major improvement in Vizio’s ever-changing industrial design. There isn’t much that gets in the way of its looks, for on the front of the TV itself, you’ll find only Vizio’s logo, which glows amber when in standby and a pale blue when powered on. Along the left side of the VM60P are the TV’s manual controls, which will allow you to toggle between inputs, change channel and volume, as well as access the onscreen menus and power the unit on and off.
Turn your attention to the back of the VM60P and you’ll find a host of connectivity options that include not one but four HDCP-compliant HDMI inputs (yes, I said four HDMI inputs). The VM60P also has your standard analog audio video inputs, which include two component video inputs, two composite or RCA inputs and two S-Video inputs, as well as RGB computer input and coaxial input. Each of the VM60P’s video inputs is complimented with a pair of analog audio inputs. The VM60P has a single analog audio out, as well as an optical audio out (capable of 5.1 multi-channel audio output) and a headphone output via its mini-jack.
On the surface, the VM60P has a lot going for it, especially when it comes to accommodating a wide variety components, especially those equipped with HDMI outputs. Inside, or should I say technologically, the VM60P doesn’t disappoint, either. For starters, the VM60P, with its native 1366 x 768 resolution, can display all of the standard-definition resolutions, as well as high definition up to 1080i. While the VM60P can accept a 1080p signal, it cannot display a native 1080p image. Therefore, HD DVD and Blu-ray users will find their images scaled down to 1080i, assuming the disc being played is actually a 1080p native disc, as many of the early HD discs were 1080i. The VM60P has a stated brightness of 1,200 cd/m2, with a contrast ratio of 7000:1 and a 178-degree viewing angle. The VM60P also features an integrated NTSC/ATSC/QAM HDTV tuner. You can take full advantage of the VM60P’s screen size by watching multiple programs at one time with its Picture-in-Picture feature, as well as its Picture-outside-Picture option. You can even view multiple sources at one time via these options. For instance, I can have my television program simultaneously share the screen with a DVD; the volume defaults to the larger of the two images. The VM60P features DCDi de-interlacing from Faroudja, as well as being equipped with 3:2 or 2:2 reverse pull-down. The last of the VM60P’s most notable features is the inclusion of two built-in 20-watt speakers that remain hidden from view, a new design idea for Vizio (although Samsung has been experimenting with similar technology for a little while now) and a welcomed aesthetic choice.
Lastly, there’s the remote. The VM60P’s remote is nearly identical to the rest of the remotes in the Vizio lineup of televisions, save one important enhancement. The remote’s buttons, while still insanely small, are now thankfully backlit. Besides backlighting and the change in color from silver to black, the old P50 remote is identical to the newer VM60P. While the VM60P’s remote is still a bit tedious to use at times, I do appreciate the fact that it is improving with every new model.
The VM60P is physically huge. With a net weight of 179 pounds, measuring in at 56 inches wide by 37 inches tall and almost five inches deep (13 inches deep with the stand), moving the VM60P is a job for two ore more people. If you plan on wall-mounting the VM60P, and you can, I would seek the help of at least four rather strong individuals. I unfortunately didn’t have such help, as the delivery person simply unboxed the VM60P and left it in my living room, which was a whole flight of stairs short of where it was ultimately going: my bedroom. With the help of my girlfriend, we were able to slowly and carefully march the VM60P upstairs and into the bedroom, where it sat on a credenza designed for plasma televisions – at least, that’s what the brochure said. Needless to say, the VM60P was a bit too large for the furniture, so an alternate installation option had to be found. This ended up with me buying a different piece of furniture. My bedroom system is somewhat in flux at the moment, so instead of opting for my usual surround sound receiver set-up, I decided to connect my sources directly to the VM60P and use its internal speakers for all of the audio for the duration of the review, which is something I never do. That being said, I connected my Dish Network DVR to the VM60P, as well as my Toshiba HD-A20 HD DVD player, and accessed AppleTV via their HDMI outputs.
I then proceeded to calibrate the VM60P using my new Digital Video Essentials disc on HD DVD. The VM60P’s menus are superb, as is the amount of control you have over the image in terms of brightness, contrast, saturation, etc., but the ability to adjust the individual colors as well is something you just don’t find with displays in the VM60P price bracket. I found the VM60P extremely easy to calibrate. I felt I had achieved a well-balanced and acceptable image in about 20 minutes. I must point out that, out of the box, the VM60P’s cinema or movie picture setting is pretty close to the results I achieved in my own calibration, with an ever-so-slight warm shift in color, which can be remedied simply by setting the VM60P’s temperature controls to either neutral or custom.