By Ty Pendlebury
December 11, 2011
The good: The Vizio Razor M3D550SR's black levels are very good for an edge-lit LED-based LCD TV. Shadow detail and colors are solid, while the matte screen really helps reduce reflections. The TV piles on the features with passive 3D, a Bluetooth QWERTY remote, and onboard wireless. The passive system creates minimal crosstalk, and Vizio includes four pairs of passive 3D glasses.
The bad: The M3D550SR's local dimming can cause blooming and turn completely off during fades to black. The colors were less accurate in darker areas, the screen lost uniformity at the corners, and it didn't handle 1080p/24 sources correctly. The 3D performance introduced too much depth.
The bottom line: The Vizio M3D550SR is a solid edge-lit LED TV with excellent black levels, although its passive 3D and Smart Dimming feature create some issues.
If I were writing this review in 2010 or 1983 or 1953, I'd begin with how 3D will revolutionize how you watch movies (and TV)...forever! Of course, 3D today is still caught in the starting blocks when it comes to home use, relegating the importance of 3D capability on Vizio's M3D550SR to "featurette" rather than "feature presentation." While the TV's 3D effect isn't very well-implemented here, at least you get four pairs of glasses in the box, so watching an occasional 3D movie as a family doesn't require any additional outlay or effort on your part.
Meanwhile, the Vizio's 2D picture quality was very good for the price overall compared with other edge-lit LED TVs, highlighted by deep black levels and well-rendered shadows. I did experience problems with the overactive Smart Dimming system and the TV's video processing, but they didn't spoil the positive impression. Vizio's VIA apps are plentiful, the QWERTY keyboard takes more than a few (beneficial) cues from smartphones, and while the TV's look is nothing special, its features are among the best available. In fact, with Vizio's failure so far to release any of the higher-end models it teased at CES in January, this is the company's flagship TV for 2011. The M3D550SR isn't our favorite edge-lit LED of the year, but it still makes a strong showing against stiff competition.
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