It has very good color production, but its contrast ratio is feeble. For what you’re paying—the MSRP is $1099 and sale prices bring it down even further—it’s a fair deal. Despite the tacked on feel of Vizio’s “wireless internet apps” (are there apps you have to plug in that run off usenet?) the TV is a solid performer and has the cutest little remote we’ve ever seen.

Vizio's smart TV lacks the sleek, thin design that so many other 2012 HDTVs flaunt.

The Vizio E552VLE is an LCD HDTV that debuted in 2012. It features a slew of apps, widgets, and modern picture and sound options. That being said, it certainly doesn’t look like any of the other thin, big screen LCD TVs we’ve covered this year. It’s about four inches thick at the sides and sits proudly atop a pedestal-like stand that screws into the bottom of the TV, allowing for no swiveling or tilting. Even its on-set controls are unusual, featuring buttons in an L-shape that can be pressed from two different, perpendicular angles. The 2VLE features a decent port selection, but the screen's girth—combined with the stand’s inability to swivel—makes its connectivity options a little tricky to access.

The side ports offer two USB inputs for photo/music/video playback and a single HDMI input. The back, left-hand side of the TV features a slightly recessed area for the rest of the E552VLE’s port options. Here, you’ll find ports for an Ethernet cable (wired connection), a coaxial jack for cable/antenna connection, optical (SPDIF) or stereo (3.5mm) audio outs, 3 more HDMI (BEST) inputs, a shared component/composite AV input, a VGA input (for PC), and an audio in jack for your PC audio.

Personally, I find there's something endearing about this TV. Like a proud bachelor, it lets it all hang out and doesn’t care. However, underneath all the Cheeto crumbs and crushed beer cans, most users will find it to be clunky, inflexible, and cheaply "designed" by Vizio's accounting department.

Like its exterior design, the Vizio E552VLE's virtual menus are also clunky and oversized.

The Picture/Sound/Settings menus are laid out on a 3×3 grid over the left half of the screen, with small pictograms that represent each category. It's easy to navigate them with the infrared remote, but the time it takes for your cursor to move from one picture to the next is a little slower than we’d like. Still, if you can get past the cursor speed, the menus are presented in a comprehensive way, and feel very easy to work with.

The TV’s smart content is just the opposite. Rather than organizing all content providers into an accessible hub in a manner similar to LG and Samsung, Vizio has laid out each separate app/widget on an infinite loop with submenus layered over submenus. Confusing though it may sound, its easy to work with after some cursory "messing around."

The Vizio E552VLE's color scores were defiantly strong for a TV in this price range.

We were very impressed with the E552VLE’s picture quality. While its maximum contrast ratio (870:1) is a lot narrower than other TVs released this year, its color accuracy is spot-on. We tested great RGB curves and a fairly accurate gamut, as well as some very consistent color temperature. It also scored well in the arena of picture dynamics.

We were very impressed with the E552VLE’s picture quality.

What this means for the viewer is that almost all content on this TV will look both accurate and good, striking a modicum of harmony between tested scientific quality and romantic aesthetic appeal upon first glance. Rarely is that the case for a TV with an MSRP of $1099.

An investment in this smart TV would be a smart choice.

If you can get past the E552VLE’s hefty size and inflexible stand design, you might find you enjoy its big buttons and port layout. If you don’t feel too confounded by the Mutt-and-Jeff-ness of a giant TV with a tiny remote control, you’ll probably discover that the little fellow’s dedicated app buttons are quite useful. And if you can shake off the fact that this HDTV doesn’t offer the sleek appearance, energy efficient power consumption, or streamlined menus we’ve come to expect from modern LED sets, you’ll discover a product with a few unique advantages: above average audio, great color production, and vigilant contrast dynamics.

For an MSRP of $1099, the Vizio E552VLE is a relatively cheap TV that requires the viewer turn a blind eye to its numerous design flaws. Just remember that you watch the screen and not the case, and this VIZIO's picture quality will outshine far more expensive LCDs.

Other than its below average contrast ratio, the budget-quality Vizio E552VLE tested exceptionally well in all other performance areas. For a budget LCD, its color accuracy was surprisingly good. Its contrast ratio is narrow due to black levels that are not very deep, which means that watching in dark, cinema-style lighting is simply not the best way to make use of this TV—something to keep in mind.

The VIZIO E552VLE's contrast ratio was easily its weakest area.

We were surprised by the relatively low maximum contrast ratio this TV tested with. Its calibrated peak brightness of 139.28 cd/m2, is very bright by current standards: about one and a half times the light given off by a standard candle, though this is wholly for the purposes of approximation. In real-world viewing, that means that dark scenes may appear closer to gray. More on how we test contrast.

The Vizio E552VLE tested with a color gamut that was almost flawless.

The black triangle represents the rec. 709 standard color gamut (the industry’s perfect gamut), representing red, blue, green, and white color accuracy for HDTVs. The white triangle is the color gamut we recorded for the E552VLE. As you can see, its red and blue corners were very accurate, with green and white missing the rec. 709 gamut by a hair.

What this means for the viewer is this Vizio LCD will display content accurately—the way the producer or director or illustrator intended it to look—almost 100 percent of the time. Its full spectrum of colors and shades, from the brightest to the darkest, will be accurately rendered, allocating full detail to the picture. If you're watching someone solve a Rubik's cube on live TV, can trust that this Vizio is displaying all the colors correctly. More on how we test color performance.

Meet the testers

Lee Neikirk

Lee Neikirk

Editor

@Koanshark

Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.

See all of Lee Neikirk's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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