Vizio TVs have been known as a no-frills low-cost brand with mediocre picture quality ever since they hit the market. And it was one of the cheap brands that I stayed away from and would not recommend to anyone looking for an HDTV with good picture quality.
Over the past couple of years, the company has stepped up its game and is now producing HDTVs with good to excellent picture quality and overall respectable performance. Starting with the E-Series, you get solid performance along with good picture quality.
Moving up to the M-Series will get you a noticeable improvement in image quality. Now to get the performance of the better-performing Samsung, Panasonic, Sony and LG models you will have to move up to Vizio’s P-Series and Reference Series. These models (once released) will be able to compete with the higher-end models of the brands I mentioned above.
Vizio is the #1 selling LED-LCD TV brand in the US, and with the quality of their TVs on the rise, I’m sure the brand will continue to gain more of the market share.
Over the past couple of months, I have changed my thoughts regarding Vizio HDTVs, and have begun to see them as a brand to recommend. My change of heart has a lot to do with their 2014 line-up of HDTVs including the all-new E series which brings me to the focus of this review… the E500i-B1
The E500iB1 is a 50″ model that is part of the company’s entry-level line-up. It has a streamlined design with a thin bezel that isn’t anything special as far as appearances go but are still stylish nonetheless. The frame (bezel) is a narrow 10mm in width. If you desire a larger screen size, check out the E550i-B2 which is the 55″ model in the E-Series.
One of the key features of all of Vizio’s 2014 line of HDTVs is the full-array LED backlighting. The E500iB1 features 16 active LED zones for local dimming. This gives the display better contrast and deeper black levels in addition to better picture uniformity as light is disturbed evenly across the screen.
Also new for the E-Series is 120Hz refresh rates for cleaner fast-motion scenes. Built-in Wi-Fi is standard and you get a large variety of apps with Vizio’s Internet Apps Plus featuring Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Facebook and many more. Another cool feature I thought I’d mention is the “on-screen manual” function which allows you to view the user manual right on the TV screen.
The remote is fairly basic and small in size with a decent button layout. The volume and channel buttons are of good size, which makes them easier to use, however, the “number” buttons may be a bit small for some users. There are three app buttons at the top of the remote for quick access to Amazon, Netflix and Mgo. The remote is not backlit.
To get the best performance from this HDTV, I suggest you use the “Calibrated” or “Calibrated Dark” picture mode. The difference between the two is the backlight strength.
The full-array LED backlighting allows this set to achieve better peak whites and deeper blacks than previous models of the E-series that I’ve viewed. Picture uniformity was also good due to the set’s full-array backlighting scheme.
Colors can also benefit from this backlighting technique which makes them more vibrant. However, on the E500i-B1 the colors (although good) still weren’t as vibrant as I would have liked to have seen. Detail and picture sharpness really shined with this set and were produced with good results with no softness in the image.
Black levels on the E500iB1 cannot compete with plasma as expected but were still good, thanks in part to the TV’s full-array local dimming, which allowed the set to produce respectable black level, decent contrast and good shadow detail. To improve the black levels, you can use the black detail option in the advanced picture menu. This will increase black levels and contrast and make color saturation pop a bit more. I personally don’t like to use these types of picture enhancement options, but in this case, it does improve picture quality.
Side angle viewing dimmed noticeably at about 20 degrees and became very distracting at about 45 degrees. This is very common for a budget LED-LCD HDTV. So this set is not ideal for large groups with individuals having to sit at wide viewing angles.
The overall picture quality of the E500iB1 is very good for an HDTV in this price class and compares favorably with Samsung’s UN50EH5300FXZA.
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Warranty: 1-year parts & labor, free lifetime technical support
Dimensions (W x H x D, inches): 44.10 x 25.69 x 2.48 (without stand); 44.10 x 27.46 x 8.64 (with stand)
Weight (pounds) 22.93 (without stand); 26.46 (with stand)
- HDMI (2 rear -one supports ARC) 2 side
- Component (1 rear)
- Composite (1 rear shared with component),
- Tuner (1 rear)
- Ethernet (1 rear)
- USB (1 side)
- Analog audio out (1 L/R RCA)
- Digital audio out ( 1 SPDIF optical)
- Full-Array LED backlighting with local dimming produces good black levels
- Good screen uniformity
- Good picture detail and sharpness
- Side angle viewing is not great but is comparable to other budget LED-LCD TVs
- Colors could be richer and more vibrant
The E500iB1and the rest of the E-Series lineup is setting a new standard for price vs. performance value. If you are looking for a budget-priced LED smart TV with full-array LED backlighting (which is unheard of at this price point) with very respectable performance, I advise you to take a hard look at this model and the rest of the E-Series line.
Now if you are looking for the best in picture quality the E500iB1 is probably not for you. But if you are looking for solid performance and great features at an affordable price, this TV is a good choice. I give it a solid recommendation.
Please leave your comments or questions below.
Updated on 11/09/2014