Vizio P50 HDM
Cheap plasma panel
- Low price, easy to set up
- No NTSC or ATSC tuner, image quality could be better
Vizio's 50-inch P50 HDM plasma HDTV monitor doesn't require the same cash outlay as a full-fledged plasma HDTV. However, you might be able to find products at a similar price point that deliver better picture.
The first thing to understand about the Vizio 50-inch P50 HDM is that it's a plasma HD monitor, not a full-fledged plasma HDTV. This means that it forgoes an analog NTSC tuner and a digital ATSC tuner, instead requiring an external tuner to display any kind of TV content. The P50 HDM costs considerably less than an actual HDTV. However, PC World (US) has found better image quality in another plasma HDTV monitor at the same cost.
Our jury found the Vizio's image quality adequate on high-definition and standard-definition TV content, with a few caveats. Colour looked good, but the P50 HDM's picture appeared dark and lacking in detail on both high-def and standard-def content. These problems became even more apparent on our DVD test of a shady scene in The Lord of the Ring: The Return of the King. Though it wasn't unwatchable, we've seen better performance from other plasmas.
The P50 HDM's strength lies in its ease of use. Like Vizio's L32HDTV LCD TV, the P50 HDM comes with a setup poster as well as a very detailed manual. Colour-coding makes it easy to match inputs to the poster. Finding the inputs on the back of the monitor is a snap, but plugging devices into them is a bit awkward. The inputs face down, so you have to feel for them when inserting connectors. The monitor also lacks a CableCard slot, which would be handy.
The glossy black P50 HDM looks attractive. I found the remote control comfortable and its layout easy to navigate. The onscreen menus were easy to master, too. The picture-in-picture function was especially simple to use, and it's flexible to boot: You can set the PIP window in four different positions and three sizes.
To my ears, audio sounded fine (but not fantastic) coming through the built-in speakers with SRS TruSurround XT. The P50 HDM offers one RCA audio output, but no digital audio output.
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