Monday, October 15, 2007

Vizio VX32L

In July my wife and I bought our first HDTV...a Vizio VX32L...599 at Sears. It's a 32" 720p panel (no need for more resolution in this size simply wouldn't see it). At first I had trouble getting decent black level. Finally, against my better judgement, I started experimenting with the automatic doo-dads under the "Advanced" menu. A combination of "black level extender", and "auto-luma" did the trick. Now there's plenty of contrast, and plenty of detail in dark scenes. Plus images really "pop" on over-the-air high-def material (we also put up a new Antennacraft antenna, with Winegard pre-amp, and Channelmaster rotor).

Reception in our deep-fringe location (80 miles from Charlotte NC, about 60 from Greensboro, 100 miles from Asheville and Greenville/Spartanburg) is great. I do wish the damn thing had a signal strength meter for aligning the antenna, however.

Now a couple of gripes. There are plenty of inputs, including two composite/S-Video, two component, one VGA, and two HDMI. I hooked up my new dvd recorder to HDMI, and was surprised at two findings. 1)-There is no aspect ratio control through HDMI. If the content is 4:3, and coming through HDMI, it gets "stretched"...period. Bummer. Still most feature films and primetime shows are widescreen. Then there's the BIG blow...images are just too damn dark through HDMI. Black level ("brightness") can't be raised enough to bring out detail in dark sequences. BIG F###ING BUMMER! Fortunately images through component inputs look great. I wish I could send 720p in through component, but my DVD recorder only allows 480p through this output. Not really a deal-breaker, as the TV seems to "upscale" just as well.

All in all, a great tv at a great price. Soon, more on my new DVD recorder...a Philips with ATSC digital tuner!

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