VIZIO HDTV’s enjoy a Dr.Jekyl/Mr. Hyde-type existence. On one hand, you can get a high-end HDTV from the brand with all the bells and whistles, while at the other end there are basic models that still provide the main feature a TV now needs — a big high-resolution screen. It’s no wonder then that Costco and other such outlets are places where both types can be found.
In my case I didn’t have to go seeking a VIZIO myself, because my landlord knocked on the door with a 32-inch VX32L LCD HDTV20A beneath his arm (okay, holding it by the box’s handle). But instead of asking me to help him set it up in an office or other such place — this 720p HDTV is going to be wall mounted in the gym where I and others can appreciate it. Providing I’ll do the mounting, he says.
So okay, a basic model means not so much it’s “stripped” as it’s not loaded — but VIZIO seems to add to the concept “basic” the idea of making sure the TV can be used. How else to explain all the inputs on the set’s bottom: two HDMI, two Component, one for a computer, Composite and and audio analog RCA stereo ins. And an input for a cable box/satellite receiver and one for an external antenna. There’s also digital and analog audio outputs so that the sound can be routed to an amplifier/home theater setup.
There’s also video/S-Video and audio RCA inputs for use with a portable game console, camcorder and such on the left side (the right has control buttons), but these aren’t going to be used here since the VIZIO will not be on its attachable base.
There’s no problem in connecting the cable box’s cable into the coaxial input on the bottom once I’ve attached the VIZIO VX32L LCD HDTV20A to the Sanus wall mount, which has already been bolted into the wall. The mount is flush against the wall, leaving just a bit of space between it and the VX32L — that’s fine since once the connection on the bottom is made, all control will be done through the remote (which is also basic, but competently designed for use). Plus the lack of tilt/swing is a bonus here where anyone looking isn’t going to be next to it anyway (the gym equipment being at the other end of the room).
One area that you can appreciate with a VIZIO basic model like the VX32L is that more attention is paid to the audio than others bother to do. The front mounted stereo speakers can moderate their treble/bass quality, and they’re sufficiently large and spaced apart for separation to occur. This is also necessary, since a pseudo surround feature is included — the effect being marginally realistic, depending on the person listening. So it makes sense that the menu devoted to audio is beefed up.
Regarding those menus, the setup for the VIZIO VX32L LCD HDTV20A is extremely simple — a series of icon-driven menu screens let you select from, alter and save settings prior to watching (if using the “Custom” setting, rather than one of the preconfigured Picture Modes). Being able to control the backlighting is a nice touch, as is moderating the color temperature to meet your particular needs. There are also advanced features for accessing dynamic noise reduction (most useful when standard definition is being viewed) along with extending the black level and controlling other aspects of the image as it is “viewed. Control over the television viewing follows the expected guidelines of accessing channels and providing control over ratings and closed-capturing, showing you waht programs are on and upcoming, and the like.
The image itself is clean and even from end to end. The speed of 12oHz is more than adequate to avoid motion blurring — especially since the VIZIO VX32L LCD HDTV20A does not have any 3D capabilities that would put a strain on it. The dynamic contrast ratio pumps out enough contrast if you want it — but like in most cases with a display under 42-inches, there’s little reason to push the contrast up. I see this as being true while watching television, courtesy of the cable signal, but also connected a portable Blu-ray player to a HDMI input. Obviously, having to hold the player next to the VX32L isn’t the way to go normally, but even being forced to be so close to the set, I wasn’t detecting any artifact or other problems while playing my test HD disc (being the upcoming release of the Liam Neeson film, THE GREY). Flesh tones looked fine, which is always the first, real test for a display when the image being sent to it isn’t compressed. And just to note, the fact that you’re seeing a 720p image as opposed to a 1080p is more than mitigated by the size of the screen. For practical purposes, I doubt anyone can tell — at least not when they’re at least a few feet back — or in the case of this models positioning — even further away from it.
As noted earlier, the VIZIO VX32L LCD HDTV20A is “basic” in the sense that there’s no 3D or Internet capabilities such as web sites or applications to access. Don’t be confused into thinking that the Ethernet-like plug on the bottom is for online access — it’s a special port for technicians to use (i.e., useless to the set’s owner).
Bottom line: The VIZIO 32-Inch VX32L LCD HDTV20A is a basic HD television — one whose use is well-suited for those areas outside the normal (such as a gym, in this case, or a kids room, basement or garage). The clean image is accompanied by sensible and recognizable controls that avoid causing confusion. Adding to this is a low price tag (sub-$350) in a display that still provides quality audio to accompany the 32-inch sized screen.
- Straightforward menu system
- Above average audio system
- Front mounted “On” light is classy
- No Internet capabilities
- No 3D capabilities
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.