Friday, August 19, 2011

Review: Sony Vizio E series 42” 3D TV

I am happy to report cheap 3D is ready for Prime Time.

3D TV sales are slow, according to the guy behind the counter at Best Buy in Murray, Utah. The company considers it a “now” technology with an uncertain future. What happens to 3D beyond the next couple years is anyone’s guess.

The FYE salesman I spoke with in Murray offered a contrary opinion as FYE is seeing sales of 3D Blu Ray movies gradually increase. Two different outlooks from the retail front, one bleak, one cautiously optimistic. Can 3D survive? Yes, but only by dispelling some of the misinformation floating around out there, and thankfully, I now have the personal experience with a product enough to help with that.

I had been renting to own a 2D TV that if I had completed the purchase it would have cost me another $3,400.00. It was getting too expensive so my wife and I decided it was time to do something to resolve that debt. However, in our current living situation (renting out a basement) one needs a TV in order to at least feel independent. We can always retreat to our basement and turn on a movie to escape.

I was delighted when I found that Sony has released a new line of inexpensive LED-LCD hybrid TVs called the E series. Cheap, sturdy and affordable Becky and I bought the 42” TV and we have a lot of good things to say about it, which will help dispel the rumors that I only complain about stuff. Not true, this TV is awesome.

While not as bright as a Plasma or truLED TV the picture is plenty crisp and the TV also includes limited Internet connectivity allowing you access to Hulu, Vudu and even Netflix, but it’s best asset is it’s approach to 3D. I can happily say that rumors of Passive (Cinema) 3D loosing resolution is no longer true. Older models lost picture quality due to the polarized screens which helped to generate the illusion, the pictures were grainy but it was a cheap alternative to the Active Shutter 3D glasses (now $50.-$70.00 each). Inside the year since passive 3D first hit the Market Sony seems to have resolved that problem as this E-Series presents lossless 3D through the same $2.00 glasses you get at the theater, so save those because now you have a reason to take them home. You can watch your 3D movies with full High Definition and not worry about loosing a single pixel but it gets better.

The other drawback to Passive 3D in theaters is that the picture is rendered about 25% darker by the glasses. This is not as big of a problem on the E Series TV which comes equipped with an LED backlight to help reduce the loss of luminosity. It’s still there, but the loss is more like 10% meaning you still maintain a picture that is plenty bright.

Now you gamers out there will likely ask “yeah but how does it do with games?” Pretty good, though not as good as a plasma, admittedly. The PS3 is the only system that I have capable of 3D as 3D does require HDMI, which my older 360 does not have. Now I do not know if this is a limitation of the TV or the PS3 but 3D games will max out their resolution at 720p, not a big deal for TVs between 30-50 inches, and this series stops at 47” so far as I know. Movies still play in full 1080p High Definition. The brighter-than-theater picture eliminates the headaches (at least for Becky and I) caused by the eye strain which the darker picture of a theatrical presentation creates. All in all this is the best way to experience the next logical step in film evolution on the market at this point.

Talkies never went away… I’m just saying…

With the cheapness of the TV, and the glasses and the glasses being much more comfortable than the more expensive Active Shutter lenses Sony has resolved one of the biggest complaints about 3D TVs. Granted it would be great to have glasses free 3D, but the technology isn’t quite there yet. The Sony E Series is a great stop gap to hold us over for the next few years, and for those who enjoy Avatar and Transformers 3 it’s a great way to have that breathtaking experience from the comfort of your living room.

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