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Vizio E420i 42-inch LED/LCD Smart TV - Review

Smart TV at a Budget Priced

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


Vizio E420i Smart LED/LCD TV - Front View Photo

Vizio E420i Smart LED/LCD TV - Photo - Front View

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Vizio E420i Smart LED/LCD TV - Photo - Onboard Controls

Vizio E420i Smart LED/LCD TV - Front View Photo of the Onboard Controls

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Vizio E420i Smart LED/LCD TV - Photo - HDMI - USB - Analog and Digital Audio Ouputs

Vizio E420i Smart LED/LCD TV - Photo of the Rear Panel Vertical Connections (HDMI, USB, Analog and Digital Audio)

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

The Vizio E420i ia a stylish-looking, thin bezel, 42-inch 1080p LCD TV that incorporates Smart TV functions. The inclusion of LED backlighting provides consistent black levels and eco-friendly power consumption. Some of the provided connections include 3 HDMI inputs, 1 USB port for accessing audio, video, and still image files stored on flash drives and other compatible devices, and both Ethernet and WiFi options are provided for internet access. For more details, keep reading this review. Afterwards, be sure check out my Photo Profile and Video Performance Tests.

Vizio E420i Product Overview

Features of the Vizio E420i include:

1. 42-Inch LED/LCD Television with 1920x1080 (1080p) native pixel resolution, and 60Hz refresh rate augmented by backlight scanning to obtain a 120Hz-like effect.

2. 1080p video upscaling/processing for all non-1080p input sources.

3. Direct LED Back-Lighting System with Smart Dimming.

4. Inputs: Three HDMI and One shared Component and Composite composite video input.

5. Analog stereo inputs (paired with the component and composite video inputs).

7 Audio Outputs: One Digital Optical and one set of analog audio outputs. Also, HDMI input is also Audio Return Channel enabled.

9. Built-in stereo speaker system (8 watts x 2) for use in lieu of the outputting audio to an external audio system. However, connecting to an external audio system is highly recommended.

10. 1 USB port for access to flash drive stored audio, video, and still image files.

11. The E420i provides both Ethernet and WiFi connectivity options for internet access (router required).

12. Access to internet streaming content via Vizio Internet Apps feature.

13. ATSC/NTSC/QAM tuners for reception of over-the-air and unscrambled high definition/standard definition digital cable signals.

14. HDMI-CEC remote control link for compatible devices.

15. Wireless Infrared Remote Control included.

16. Energy Star 5.3 rated.

For a closer look at the features and functions of the E420i, check out my supplementary Photo Profile

Additional Components Used to Conduct Review

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705 (used in 5.1 channel operating mode).

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-103.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 2 (5.1 channels): EMP Tek E5Ci center channel speaker, four E5Bi compact bookshelf speakers for left and right main and surrounds, and an ES10i 100 watt powered subwoofer.

Additional Audio System: AudioXperts 4TV 2112 Audio Entertainment Console (on review loan).

DVDO EDGE Video Scaler used for additional video upscaling comparison.

Audio/Video connections made with Accell Cables High Speed HDMI Cables provided by for this review by Atlona, and NextGen. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used.


Software Used Used to Conduct Review

Blu-ray Discs: Battleship, Ben Hur, Brave (2D version), Cowboys and Aliens, The Hunger Games, Jaws, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Megamind, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Dark Knight Rises.

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

Video Performance

To start, the Vizio E420i's screen has a matte surface, instead of an additional glass overlay. This design reduces glare from ambient light sources, such as lamps or open windows.

The TV is an overall good performer, with some caveats. Incorporating a direct LED backlight instead of LED edge lighting, the black levels were pretty even across the screen. However, with Smart Dimming engaged, the black level, although deeper, sometimes gives extremely dark scenes a muddy look and also has the unexpected result of making the TV look like it is momentarily turned off during certain transitions, such as between the end of a movie and the beginning of the ending credits.

On the other hand, I found that color saturation, detail, and contrast range were all very good with high definition source material, especially Blu-ray Discs, but E420i doesn't quite have the richness you would see on a higher-end (and, of course, higher-priced) set. Also, I didn't think that the E420i faired as well with standard definition sources, such as analog cable and internet streaming content.

When I conducted a series of tests to find out how well the E420i processes and scales standard definition source content, the E420i only did a fair job extracting detail and suppressing video noise, and also had some difficulty recognizing differing film and video frame cadences.

However, the E420i did a good job minimizing deinterlacing and motion artifacts, and exhibited an overall smooth motion response, considering that its "120Hz" refresh rate is obtained via blacklight scanning in combination with an actual 60Hz true screen refresh rate.

For a closer look at the video processing capabilities of the Vizio E420i, check out a sampling of Video Performance Test Results.

Another interesting thing about the E420i is that, for a budget priced TV, provides a lot a picture adjustment options that include both basic presents and additional custom settings (see menu example).

However, to take advantage of the TV's setting options, it is advisable to at least use a calibration test disc, such as DVE HD Basics Blu-ray Edition, or the THX Optimizer, which can be found as a supplementary feature on any THX Certified Blu-ray Disc movie release, or the new THX Tune-Up App for iPhone/iPad.

Audio Performance

The Vizio E420i provides minimal audio settings, but does include both SRS StudioSound HD and SRS TruVolume.

StudioSound creates as wider sound field, which improves the depth and spaciousness of the reproduced by the TV's speakers, while TruVolume compensates for level changes within a program or when changing between sources, but the actual sound quality (especially the lack of any real bass) of the E420i is much like the sound quality from most TVs I have reviewed.

If you are planning to use this TV as your main set, I would suggest considering even a modest sound bar, paired with small subwoofer to get a better audio listening result.

Proceed to Page 2: Internet Streaming, USB, Menu/Remote Control, Pros/Cons, Final Take.

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