Value Meets Performance: An Overview of VIZIO TVs and Soundbars


If there is one thing VIZIO has taught us since their inception in 2002, it’s that value and performance do not have to be mutually exclusive. Neither do they have to be lofty marketing terms, leaving consumers confused by which they should prioritize. We have also learned that if a manufacturer chooses, those two words can be guiding principles, inspiring an entire line of home entertainment products. When you look at VIZIO’s offerings, you will discover a wide variety of audio and video products that are a direct result of their value- and performance-centered philosophy. This is a plus for consumers as manufacturers continue to push the envelope, offering quality products at competitive prices.

In this overview we are going to dig deeper into VIZIO’s impressive range of flat panel high definition TVs and soundbars. Not only do these products cover several price points, but they also incorporate a vast array of technologies that are designed to appeal to casual consumers and experienced home theater enthusiasts alike. Looking at the sheer number of products VIZIO offers, it’s clear that they envision their products being the centerpiece of nearly every type of home entertainment setup and environment. While the VIZIO product line covers the complete home theater experience, let us first take a look at their exciting television models.

TV Options and Technologies

At first glance, it’s easy to get intimidated when deciding between VIZIO’s extensive 720p and 1080p television options. But resolution is not the only factor to consider here; you can also chose between Internet connectivity with streaming functionality, varying backlight technologies, number of component inputs and more.  As an added convenience, models with Internet access feature both Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity; this provides users with the flexibility to choose either wireless or wired options. Furthermore, VIZIO’s full screen smart TV app interface features access to popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon on Demand, Pandora radio and much more.

VIZIO has you covered with your wired component connections as well. With some models offering up to four HDMI inputs, you have plenty of connection options for interfacing devices like Blu-ray players, high-definition gaming systems and digital video recorders. If you have component video-equipped sources, VIZIO has you covered there as well, as this connection is standard.  PC users will be pleased to see that VGA connectivity is available as well, allowing you to output video from a desktop or notebook computer for viewing on the TV’s big screen. External device connections don’t end there; in addition to standard composite audio and video inputs, available USB connectivity allows you to connect devices like thumb drives for playing media such as photos, music and videos. Rounding out the TV’s ports are audio output connectors, allowing you to send sound to an external audio system for processing and playback. For extended compatibility with external sound systems, some VIZIO TVs feature both analog and digital audio outputs.

While value is important, VIZIO understands the importance of great picture quality. With that in mind, their E-series Razor TVs feature edge-lit LED backlights. This technology distributes LEDs along the edge of the screen, improving dynamic picture quality with enhanced dark and light onscreen images. For even greater white and black level performance, VIZIO offers models with full-array backlights. Full-array technology distributes LEDs throughout the entire display, contributing to greater screen uniformity. Both technologies offer robust picture quality and are designed to offer consumers different layers of performance, catering to your individual viewing requirements.

Pushing the performance envelope a step further, VIZIO’s M-series TVs feature either full-array or edge-lit backlights combined with local dimming zones. This technology automatically adjusts the LED backlighting in each area of the screen to match your viewing content. Local dimming technology is designed to further optimize picture contrast and the aforementioned black level performance. And with contrast ratios up to 20 million to 1, these models are equipped to handle images with demanding shadow detail. Good black level performance doesn’t just positively impact shadowy images; it also helps color saturation for lifelike picture detail.

Both of the VIZIO TV series are available in a plethora of screen sizes, from 23 inches to massive 80-inch displays. Having these options allow you to accommodate nearly every living space. Even more impressive, their smaller models, like the E-series E231I-B1 23-inch LED TV, offer Smart TV capability, a feature commonly reserved for TVs with larger displays. On the opposite end of the size spectrum, their 70- and 80-inch M-series TVs offer some of the best technology VIZIO has to offer, such as the previously discussed local dimming technology and wide contrast ratios. Continuing with the options theme, a slightly scaled back 70-inch E-series model is also available, which maintains many of the high-end features showcased on VIZIO’s top-tier models. While these TVs have vast differences in screen size, VIZIO offers a variety of in-between sizes, including 32-, 42-, 50-, 60-inches and more. With many of these models incorporating features typically found in flagship TVs.

 If you’re concerned about motion blur, VIZIO offers effective refresh rates ranging from 60 to 240 Hz. Additionally, some TVs in their lineup, like the 42-inch M422I-B1 for example, incorporate VIZIO’s Clear Action Technology. Similar to motion reduction technologies from other manufacturers, this processing feature works with the TV’s native refresh rate to reduce blur on fast moving images like sporting events and action movies. This feature is designed to make image pans appear distortion free with reduced artifacting, resulting in clear images, regardless of the content you’re viewing.

E231I-B1 70-inch M-series 80-inch M-series 70-inch E-series M422I-B1


Additional TV Features

Included on select models, Second Screen Interactivity is another notable feature that’s geared toward improving your viewing experience. This feature is great for mobile users as it allows you to share content from Netflix and YouTube between your TV and iOS or Android devices. With the touch of an icon, content that you view on your smartphone or tablet can be wirelessly shared on your high-definition television’s screen.

Ambient light sensors can also be found on many of VIZIO’s TV models. The technology dynamically adjusts your TV’s backlight for optimal viewing based on your ambient lighting. If you’re watching TV in a brightly lit room for example, it will increase the TV’s backlight so onscreen content isn’t washed out. Conversely, it will lower the backlight in dimly lit rooms to reduce eye fatigue.

DTS Studio Sound is a common and welcome feature found on many VIZIO TVs. As each model includes stereo speakers, total amplifier output varies. This technology works with the TV’s built-in audio capabilities to produce a simulated surround sound experience with optimized bass performance. While an external audio system—like the soundbars we’re going to discuss later—provides greater sonic separation and power output, DTS Studio Sound helps you achieve an enjoyable listening experience from the TV’s integrated speakers.

With all of the technology VIZIO packs into their TVs, combined with massive screen sizes, it is good to see that they paid attention to power consumption as well. With many of their models achieving ENERGY STAR 6.0 and 6.1 certifications, these VIZIO E and M series TVs are designed to balance performance and energy efficiency.

The Soundbar Experience

Not to be outdone by their video offerings, VIZIO takes sound seriously as well. If your audio quality isn’t on par with your picture quality, the entire experience suffers. While VIZIO incorporates a number of sound technologies into their TVs, if you have ever experienced an external audio system then you know of the advantages adding one to your high-definition display can bring. While we applaud the slim form factors of our flat-panel TVs, sacrifices have to be made in order to achieve those slim cabinet designs. One common sacrifice is speaker size. Typically, smaller speakers lack the dynamic punch and bass impact afforded by larger speaker systems like soundbars. Similar to our TV feature breakdown, we are going to look at some of the technology behind VIZIO’s audio products and see how they complement their high-definition displays.

In addition to sound quality, form factor is an important consideration when choosing a soundbar. VIZIO offers a number of soundbars that are designed to closely match the width of your TV for a clean, integrated appearance. Furthermore, most of their soundbars feature tabletop and wall mounting placement options. For easy installation, the speakers that do accommodate wall mounting include mounting hardware. While VIZIO’s S2121W-DO Sound Stand does not have the ability to be mounted to a wall, it can support TVs up to 55-inches. Allowing you to place your qualifying TV directly on top of the soundbar’s speaker cabinet. While small in size, this soundbar houses a 2.1-channel speaker array that delivers up to 170-watts of power.

Speaker configuration is another important factor to consider when choosing the right soundbar for your home theater system. As expected, VIZO offers a number of size options. If your system does not require a subwoofer, you can still achieve full-range sound quality with an item like their S3820W-C0 38-inch, 2-channel soundbar speaker, which features two 3-inch drivers and two 4-inch deep bass modules. A subwoofer port is also available should you choose to add an external subwoofer later.  VIZIO’s S4221W-C4 42-inch, 2.1-channel soundbar speaker system incorporates four mid-range drivers and two tweeters, and also includes an external wireless subwoofer for added bass impact for music and movies. If you require even greater sound separation, VIZIO’s S4251W-B4 is a 5.1-channel system that consists of a 3-channel soundbar, two surround satellite speakers and a wireless subwoofer.

S3820W-C0 S4221W-C4 S4251W-B4 S5430W-C2

Each VIZIO soundbar in this overview is equipped with Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth allows you to wirelessly stream music from compatible devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers. Each model also features analog audio inputs for connecting legacy audio devices, in addition to digital optical and coaxial inputs for higher-quality source connections.  Some models are also equipped with USB ports, while the S5430W-C2 54-inch soundbar features an HDMI input and output. An HDMI interface gives you the ability to interface high-resolution audio components. This soundbar’s HDMI output also supports Audio Return Channel (ARC), which allows for the transmission of both upstream and downstream high quality audio signals on a single HDMI cable. This model even includes an HDMI cable.

Options are Good

Let’s face it, when it comes to consumer electronics there rarely is too much of a good thing. At B&H we offer a wide assortment of VIZIO TVs and soundbars, allowing you to choose the best audio and video combination to suit your needs. Even better, with these products from VIZIO, picking your desired components won’t require a second mortgage on your home. With VIZIO, you can still get the performance you’re looking for without giving up the value you crave. These two concepts really can, and do, coexist.