Vizio VU42L

Review

posted 9/13/2007 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: AV
Before we start this review I want to talk about the word Value.  From a consumer perspective the value of a purchase is usually the features and quality of a product divided by the amount of money you spent on it.  In marketing speak "value" products are usually items that offer features at reduced quality for a lower price, at least that was my take on it until I got my hands on a "Value" HDTV from Vizio. 
I recently had the change to spend four weeks with the Vizio VU42L, one of their latest 42" LCD televisions.  While Vizio is fairly new to the market I had heard a lot of buzz about them in the tech blogs and spent a little quality time checking out their wares at CES this year.  I was fairly impressed at how Vizio could cram so many features (big screen, 1080p) into on box without charging and arm and a leg for it.  So while the product focus was value I had some fairly high expectations for the product.  Before we delve any further lets take a look at the numbers behind the VU42L. 
The Specs
Screen Size: 42"
TV Dimionsions: 40.5" W x 28.5" H x 9.7" D
Weight: 48.5 lbs
Contrast Ratio: 1800 : 1
Inputs:
 - 2 HDMI
 - 2 Component
 - 2 Composite
 - 1 RGB
 - 1 Svideo
Supported resolutions 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p, 480i.
Max PC resolution: 1366 x 768
What's in the box
 TV, remote, AV Cable, manual, batteries, power cord, safety strap, cleaning cloth
Packaging and Aesthetics
The VU42L came packed in a decent 1/4 inch cardboard box.  it's the standard large TV setup where you pull a few plastic pieces off the bottom of the box and then pull the majority of the box off the base.  The TV is well secured in the box with styrofoam inserts and the TV itself comes wrapped in a nice plastic bag.  The majority of the accessories come in a little box stacked at the bottom of the box.  It took me a while to find the box of goodies (with it being a press review unit I wasn't sure if the previous owner had absconded with the goods but I finally found them tucked safely away in the box)
The TV itself is good looking and it did pass the significant other test (i.e. the girlfriend approved).  The first thing I noticed about the TV was that there are not buttons on the front of the TV which means you have a nice clutter free TV.  Instead the buttons are are mounted on the right side of the TV.  The seven chiclet sized buttons are located on the right side of the television.  They control the power, volume, channel, menu, and an input selector.    I like having a separate input button as you can quickly switch inputs on the TV without having to navigate through the televisions on screen menus.
Another thing that draws your eye when you look at the TV is the Vizio logo at the bottom of the screen.  When the TV has power the logo glows yellow and changes to white when the television is powered on.  I know it sounds cheesy but I really liked the feature as the logo is kind of cool and it also helps answer "Is the power out" question (I had the TV hooked up in my bedroom during a week of thunderstorms so this was a nice feature to have)
The TV is laid out in the traditional TV over speaker configuration.  The speakers are sold sounding but not something you'd write home about.  This isn't a big issue for me because I normally route my audio through a receiver and speaker system.
One of the things that will appeal to gamers with a lot of consoles is the fact that the VU42L has eight different inputs.  All of the inputs except for the S-Video connection are located on the back f the TV.  The Svideo port is located on the left side of the TV which makes hooking up a Camcorder or Dreamcast a little easier.  The ports on the back are well laid out but face downward.  This is to accommodate the ability of the TV to be mounted to a wall.  Personally I like this configuration a little better as it's a little easier to get at the inputs.  Above the ports is an excellent diagram of the ports so you don't have to crane your neck looking for the right slot or connection.
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