Vizio M3D650SV 3D LED-LCD TV Page 2
Not so on Hidalgo. With Smart Dimming on, the LEDs turn completely off in the presence of a black screen, but until I looked at this movie, they didn't do so for a full five seconds. In this case, they immediately dropped to 0 between the opening title screens, which was very distracting. Still, the picture looked better with Smart Dimming on, which didn't affect the rest of what I saw in that way—the letterbox bars were reasonably dark, though they were lighter in the corners.
Detail was nice and sharp in the crowd at the wild-west show, texture of a wood railroad car, and stone building in Arabia. Color was also very good, with natural skin tones, blue sky, and browns of the desert.
Human Planet from the BBC is stored on Blu-ray at 1080i, just as it was broadcast, and the motion detail on the M3D650SV was not as crisp as with 1080p content, though detail in static objects was superb. As before, color was surprisingly good, including blue sky, green foliage, and skin tones.
Taking a look at off-axis performance, the image started to look washed out beyond about 25 degrees or so. This is not as good as the best LCDs I've seen in this regard, such as those from LG.
When the TV receives a 3D signal, it pops up a message that asks if you want to display 3D; if you don't respond within five seconds or so—say, if the remote is not handy at that moment—it defaults to 2D, which is very frustrating. Of course, you can go into the menu system and enable 3D operation after the fact, but the TV should do so automatically when it receives a 3D signal rather than defaulting to 2D.
Starting with Rio, I noticed that viewing light text on a dark background made evident the thin, black horizontal lines endemic to passive-3D flat panels. These were visible even at my viewing distance of 9 feet, but not in most other images. And I found the passive glasses to be much more comfortable to wear than active glasses—lighter and less bulky—especially over my prescription glasses.
The 3D imagery looked great—very bright and perfectly coherent with nary a sign of crosstalk. The colors in the Brazilian scenes were vivid, and detail in things like feathers was nice and sharp. Likewise with Tangled—bright, comfortable, coherent 3D with sharp detail and beautiful colors.
For some live-action 3D, I looked at Goldberg Variations: Acoustica, a 3D musical performance from AIX Records. The 3D effect was wonderful, but I could see faint black horizontal lines in the bass strings. Detail in the rug, wooden stage, and microphones was crisp, and skin tones were natural.
In his review of the XVT3D650SV, Tom Norton noticed a reddish smearing around faces in certain 3D scenes—for example, around Scrooge's nose and chin in the opening scene at the undertaker's in A Christmas Carol and Buzz Lightyear's and Jessie's shadowed faces as the toys huddle in the toy chest near the beginning of Toy Story 3. Tom and I both looked at these scenes on the M3D650SV, and neither of us saw that red smearing, so either it was a problem in the sample he reviewed or Vizio solved it in the new set.
Passive vs. Active 3D
To compare passive and active 3D, I used our Accell 4-in/8-out HDMI switcher/splitter to feed the same 3D signal to the M3D650SV and a Sony KDL-55HX929 LCD TV with full-array LED backlighting and local dimming. I positioned the TVs so I was about 9 feet from the Vizio and 7.5 feet from the Sony, and all I had to do was swivel in my chair and change glasses.
As expected, the Sony's blacks were much deeper than the Vizio's, but the Vizio was much brighter. Also, as noted, Vizio's passive glasses were much more comfortable to wear, especially over my prescription glasses.
The Vizio exhibited those thin black lines in light text on a dark background, while the Sony, of course, did not, since each eye sees all 1080 lines of the image with active-shutter glasses. Otherwise, this artifact of passive 3D flat panels wasn't evident to me, except sometimes in the bright white accents on the suits worn by digital beings in Tron: Legacy.
Overall, the Vizio's 3D was more coherent, especially with objects in front of the screen plane. Looking at How to Train Your Dragon on the Sony, there was some crosstalk—for example, a candle flame on a dark background as Hiccup is studying and fish swimming underwater as the wounded dragon tries to eat them—but none on the Vizio. Also, Tom Norton saw some flickering in the sky at one point during Toy Story 3 on the Sony (I didn't), something he didn't see on the Vizio.
As mentioned earlier, the M3D650SV comes preloaded with a variety of apps, and you can add many more from the Yahoo Media Store. You can set the picture controls independently for online content, but it's difficult without some relevant test patterns, so I just re-entered the values for my 2D calibration.
I tried the Netflix app, which I like very much—it provides access to virtually all of Netflix's streaming content in a well-organized manner, much like Samsung and unlike Panasonic. I watched an episode of one of my favorite HD series, FlashForward, and the detail was pretty sharp—not as sharp as Blu-ray, of course, and I saw a few minor compression artifacts, but not bad overall.
Interestingly, the LEDs immediately dropped to 0 during the interstitial blackouts rather than being delayed as with most content I tried. Unlike on Hidalgo, it wasn't distracting in this case because the scenes surrounding the blackouts were bright, not black as they are in that movie.
Just for fun, I opened the Twitter app and tweeted that I was reviewing the M3D650SV. The app appears on the left side of the screen; I logged in and tweeted using the QWERTY keyboard. The only problem was that some characters didn't register if the remote wasn't aimed properly. Plus, I really hate typing with my thumbs!
All things considered, I really like the M3D650SV. It's 2D and 3D performance is excellent. Yes, you must sit far enough away to avoid seeing the thin, black horizontal lines endemic to passive-3D flat panels, but I didn't see them except in light text on a dark background at an optimum viewing distance of 9 feet. And overall, watching 3D on this set was more cohesive and comfortable for me than on a set that uses active-shutter glasses—and the passive glasses are much lighter, less expensive, and more comfortable to wear.
As with all LED-edgelit LCD TVs, dark scenes had somewhat uneven illumination with some spotlighting in the corners, and the blacks didn't look quite as good as my measurements indicated, but they were certainly adequate, and shadow detail was great. And while the colors didn't measure all that well, real-world content looked fine in that regard. Also, the Vizio Internet Apps are plentiful and well implemented.
My biggest complaint is the ergonomics—a clunky menu system, non-illuminated remote with poorly differentiated buttons, picture controls too high on the screen, and global color-temp settings. Also, the TV should automatically engage 3D mode when it gets a 3D signal rather than asking if you want it and defaulting to 2D if you don't respond in 5 seconds.
Even though Tom Norton didn't bestow Top Picks status on the XVT3D650SV, he agrees with me that the M3D650SV deserves it, in part because the red-smear problem he observed in the earlier model was not evident here, and also because the new set is $1,500 less expensive for the same or even better quality. A good-performing, 65-inch 3D flat panel for $2,200? That's a Top Pick in my book.