Vizio 21:9 CinemaWide TV Finally Available
After what has seemed like an interminable wait, Vizio's 21:9 CinemaWide LED-LCD flat-panel TV is finally available to consumers at Vizio's website. With a native pixel resolution of 2560x1080, this XVT-series set is the first ultra-widescreen flat panel available in the US that displays 2.35:1 movies without black bars above and below the image.
In addition, it's fully 3D-capable using passive-polarized glasses rather than active-shutter glasses, which I'm starting to prefer, even though the vertical resolution presented to each eye is only 540 lines. Yes, I can see thin black horizontal lines under certain conditionsfor example, light-colored letters on a dark backgroundbut at the recommended seating distance, I don't normally notice these lines, and the overall detail is better than I would expect, probably because the brain combines both images into one stereoscopic image. And passive glasses are much lighter and less expensive than active-shutter glassesin fact, the CinemaWide set ships with four pairs.
I'm more concerned that the set uses LED edgelighting rather than full-array backlighting, which typically results in poor uniformity in dark scenes. I only hope that there are LEDs along the top and bottom of the screenI can't imagine how LEDs on the sides could fully illuminate the center of such a wide screen.
Of course, the CinemaWide set is also fully equipped with Vizio Internet Apps, which let you stream content from many different online providers as well as a variety of other applications such as Skype and Facebook. Plus, you can run apps next to a 16:9 image without intruding on that image as shown above. Built-in WiFi makes it easy to connect to the Internetthough I always prefer a wired connection if possible to eliminate any chance of interferenceand the Bluetooth remote includes a full QWERTY keyboard.
The first CinemaWide set, dubbed XVT3D580CM, measures 58 inches diagonally and carries a list price of $2799, though that has been reduced to $2499 for a limited time. If you watch a lot of broadcast or streamed HDTV content, keep in mind that the 16:9 window is only 51 inches diagonally. Vizio plans to release a 71-inch version at some point in the future, and the 16:9 window on that set will measure 56 inches diagonally.
We expect to get the XVT3D580CM in for review very soon, and I recommend that potential buyers wait for that review before pulling the trigger. In particular, I'm eager to see how well the set scales 2.35:1 movies on Blu-ray, which have a native resolution of 1920x817. But if you're a cinephile who hates letterbox bars on a flat panel, CinemaWide could be the start of something big.