The Vizio M320VT ($539 MSRP) is a 1080p LED-edgelit LCD that's a good value. It impressed us with solid performance in several areas and includes a universal remote. Too bad its terrible menu system and supporting documentation brought it dangerously close to destruction. At our hands. And expense. And promise of relief.
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The Vizio M320VT's screen has glossy, black plastic bordering its top and sides. Below the screen, the border consists of a molded, grey strip of mesh. In its center is the Vizio logo, which brightens when the TV is on and dims when off. The grey-metal-on-black-plastic look comes off as stylized; whether or not you think that looks good is a personal choice, but we weren't fans.
The back of the LCD is encased in very glossy, black plastic. It has a few ports in a row here, facing downward from a recessed ledge. For information about the ports on the back of the M320VT see our Connectivity section.
The left side of the M320VT has a recessed ledge containing the rest of the TV's ports. On the right side are the on-board controls, which take the form of long, metallic buttons. For information about the ports on the sides of the M320VT see our Connectivity section.
The glossy, black stand is sturdy, decent-looking, and simple to install. We would have preferred a swiveling stand, but on a screen this small, it doesn't matter much.
The slender, metallic buttons on the right side of the screen produce a definitive click when pressed. Navigating the menu takes some getting used to, but this always going to be the case without a dedicated directional pad. On-board controls are seldom used, but it is nice to be able to adjust your TV's settings when the remote is nowhere to be found.
The remote is comfortable and well-designed, aside from an awkward placement of the number pad at the base. The other, most commonly-used controls are easy to access, and can be distinguished without having to look down. The remote is universal and may be programmed to control your cable box, DVD player, or audio player.
In The Box*(7.0)*
This HDTV comes with a manual, remote, batteries, and a cleaning cloth. It is very easy to install; the stand comes with a quartet of thumbscrews, so you don't even need a screwdriver.
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A black level of 0.7 cd/m2 is very good for an LCD. The Vizio M320VT scored better than other LCDs in its class in this area, and in particular much better than the LG and E320VL Vizio model. This may have something to do with the lighting mechanism; the Sony and Vizio M320VT are both edge-lit by LEDs, while the other two are backlit LCDs. (More on how we test Black Level.)
This HDTV scored decently in peak brightness. A score of 316.50 cd/m2 is not the brightest possible for an LCD screen, but it is certainly bright enough for watching in a room with average lighting. (More on how we test Peak Brightness.)
With a good pitch black and a peak white that'll do the job, the Vizio M320VT is capable of a great contrast level. It beats out four LCD TVs in this price range by a wide margin. In the chart below, we try to plot contrast with bars that are intuitive, but if you look at the numbers themselves, you may wonder why a difference of 0.24 cd/m2 in blackness warrants a wider margin than hundreds of candelas per square meter in brightness. The reason is that the human perceive light on a logarithmic scale, so we detect a much smaller change in dim light with the same weight as a much greater change in bright light. (More on how we test Contrast.)
The M320VT performed well in the tunnel contrast test, meaning it was able to produce very dark blacks, even when surrounded by white pixels. In short, this means that areas of high contrast, such as a glossy sheen or zebra stripes, will look crisp and defined. (More on how we test Tunnel Contrast.)
This white falloff score is very impressive, and lends further to the suggestion that this TV is excellent at displaying crisp contrast. (More on how we test White Falloff.)
The uniformity is one area in which this LCD really suffered. For an all-white screen, there was almost no flashlighting or blotching, and only the faintest dimming about the edges. For an all-black screen, which is more commonly used in film, the LCD did not perform nearly as well; there was major flashlighting in the corners, and bluish/reddish splotches on both sides of the base of the screen. For watching movies that do a lot of fading to black and dark scenes, this could be annoying. (More on how we test Uniformity.)
The M320VT did not perform ideally in the tests for greyscale gamma, with a line that is too steep. However, it is relatively straight and featureless, with only a subtle dip at the base of the curve. This means that while displayed gradients might be a little weighted towards black, deeper shades of grey won't be crushed into black too, terribly much. It should still be possible to make out details in dark scenes. ( More on how we test Greyscale Gamma.)
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The color temperature data below might not look pretty, but the majority of it falls within the faint margin of the perceptible error limit. While it looks like the temperature fluctuates wildly, it's not to a degree that can be discerned by the human eye. You'll only notice a warming effect on on the hue for the deepest greys and blacks. (More on how we test Color Temperature.)
The M320VT exhibited nice, even curves in our color test. This means that all colors are processed with similar effectiveness. One of this curve's shortcomings for this test is its sag, which means that all medium shades of color are weighted towards black. Another problem is the wiggle of the lines, which means that this TV doesn't transition well between shades that are very similar. The term for this is color banding, and you can see it in the individual color strips below. (More on how we test RGB Curves.)
Below, you can see a replica of the gradients of RGB, from the curve plotted above. This is just a visualization of what each gradient would look like, but you can see that the curves are all weighted towards black, compared to the ideal response. From the comparisons, however, you can see that this is a common problem for LCDs.
Additionally, the gradients display some banding over their brightest colors, per the jagginess of the curve's data. This will lead to things like a depicted light bulb being circled by subtle bands of color, rather than a smooth glow.
The color gamut of the M320VT is by far its most problematic area when it comes to color. Red and blue are very oversaturated compared to the Rec. 709 industry standard of how they should appear. The white point is also very far into the blue region. For color accuracy, this LCD is not at all good. Unfortunately, however, most televisions also fall into this approximate range of gamut. (More on how we test Color Gamut.)
You can see how we derived the percent error of the M320VT's data points in the chart below.
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The motion performance of this LCD was not great. It tended to blur lines and produce a stair-stepping pattern along straight edges. If you are using this TV for daytime viewing, you may not notice, but for sports or action flicks, this screen may not be ideal. (More on how we test Motion.)
3:2 Pulldown & 24fps*(6.00)*
The 3:2 pulldown processing of the M320VT left much to be desired. Moiré patterns and high-frequency lines strobed and jittered before our eyes as the HDTV's processor struggled with the frame adjustment. It was definitely this, too, and not a problem with resolution scaling, which the M320VT pulled off very well. (More on how we test 3:2 Pulldown and 24fps.)
This LCD performed very well in the resolution scaling tests. There was no overscan in any resolution, and almost no Moiré interference or artifacting in high-frequency patterns. Legibility held up for the most part under each resolution. (More on how we test Resolution Scaling.)
There were minimal problems displaying Moiré patterns, and none at all with high-frequency scoring. Legibility was quite good for a variety of text sizes.
Moiré interference seemed to be the worst under this resolution, and there were minimal problems with high-frequency patterns. Legibility remained relatively high.
There were no discernable problems with Moiré interference and high-frequency scoring in this resolution. Legibillity also improved from the smaller resolutions.
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This HDTV is a 1080p (1920 x 1080) LCD that supports all NTSC standards.
This display had a good viewing angle for an LCD screen, but that's all. We measured 38° from center before contrast fell below 50%, adding up to a total viewing angle of about 76°. There was little to no color distortion, either. If you really expect to have people watching this TV from all angles, an LCD might not be a good choice. For general purposes though, this screen should do just fine. (More on how we test Viewing Angle.)
On an all-white screen, we could make out individual LEDs in an array of lights, but the effect was muted when the light was angled away. On an all-black screen, though, not only could we make out individual LEDs, but the light also produced a huge, X-shaped rainbow pattern and a white halo. Unlike for a white screen, angling the light didn't solve most of these problems. (More on how we test Reflectance.)
The M320VT offers only a handful of processing options, none of which we found very useful. Color enhancement gave people a yellowish tint, which might have minorly improved some complexions, but did not seem to be worth causing red objects in the scene to look orange. DCR did lower the backlight to save energy, but we failed to see the need for having this option in addition to the backlight slider.
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We calibrate our televisions with a spectrophotometer and DisplayMate calibration software. Because we hook up our TVs to a computer with an HDMI cable, we found the settings interface immensely frustrating. Some of the settings were greyed out and could not be accessed unless we changed the source from our computer to a cable box. The entire process was very mysterious and tedious, but you'll get the best results if you use Custom mode and go from there. The other picture modes are presets that won't allow you to change some settings. Also, color temperature may be adjusted granularly on the RGB level, if you wish to dabble in darker calibratory arts.
The M320VT offers a handful of video preset modes, but they don't all give full access to the sub-settings. In fact, every picture mode except for Custom includes some greyed-out settings. Additionally, we had some trouble accessing every setting between different video sources (i.e., computer vs. cable box).
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The M320VT has few available ports. They consist of: 4 HDMI, 1 shared component/composite, 1 VGA, 1 accompanying 3.5mm analog audio, 1 USB, and a cable/antenna RF connector. A digital audio audio port is the only output.
The ports are about evenly split between the back and side, set on two recessed ledges. This makes the paltry few available connectors seem even less substantial.
We've formulated this chart of connectivity options for the Vizio M320VT, plus three comparison LCDs.
The limitations of the ports themselves are further limited by their positioning: all the HDMI ports are sequestered off to the side with the USB and the 3.5mm audio in (a surly neighbor, always bemoaning its separation from the VGA port). Besides the RF connector, which is appropriately nestled on the far side of the back ledge, there are only a few ports in the back. Not only are the component and composite ports arguably the most useful ones housed here, but they're actually the same port, which means you'd better not have more than one combined source of component and composite devices. In the case that you use primarily HDMI cables, you'd better be okay with them all sticking unceremoniously out the side.
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The M320VT's dual 10W speakers produce audio that is bit tinny, but this is usually the case for internal television speakers. Turning on the SRS TruSurround HD feature really helps, and we found that it did emulate surround sound relatively well. The audio settings do not include a granular equalizer, but they do have a few presets: flat, classical, rock, pop, and jazz. We were disappointed to find that when the TruSurround feature is on, these cannot be adjusted, so you'll need to pick a preset before turning it on. Additionally, the volume cannot be adjusted while in any menu, which can add a layer of bother to your audio adjustment.
Ultimately, we always recommend one use external speakers with a TV, but in a pinch, this Vizio's on-board speakers can suffice.
The menu interface on the M320VT is, in our opinion, its worst feature. It is extremely frustrating to have to change various menu settings in order to achieve access to advanced video settings. It even seemed like the source mattered sometimes, but we were never completely clear on what led to what. It wasn't as severe once our basic settings were laid in, but the initial setup of this TV was like probing a black box; we gave it various inputs only to be surprised and confused by its mysterious outputs. When you take into account that the system is sometimes laggy and the remote has a narrow angle of effect, the effect on our collective nerves could be called "devastating."
You can't see it in this example, but that explanatory text at the bottom of the menu is frequently cut off at the baseline, meaning the bottoms of lowercase Gs and Qs are cut off.
This is not the only instance of lack of care; when a menu is open, the remote does not allow you to change the volume. Little things like this suggest to us that not a lot of thought was put into the interface. If you are going to be watching TV on this LCD daily, though, these are the sorts of things you should be aware of. For example, we don't think that this TV is a good choice for someone who hasn't grown up with technology or has trouble with better, more intuitive menu interfaces.
The Vizio M320VT does not have the best instruction manual. You will probably be able to find most of what you're wondering, but there are no tabs or anything beyond a simple table of contents to help guide you. There is an index, but for it to help you, you must first find it: it's followed by about 20 pages of programming codes for the remote, so it's only vaguely near the end of the booklet.
The layout of the manual is confusing, and rife with typos. Video processing modes on the TV are actually referred to by different names in the manual. There are also a slew of broken tables, which is at least mildly impressive for print media. This is something we would expect from a .txt file hastily printed to a poorly-aging inkjet—not in a document from a large corporation.
This HDTV has no internet connectivity or DLNA support.
Local Media Playback*(4.5)*
The M320VT has a low-end jpeg and mp3 player for drives plugged into its USB port. It automatically launches a photo browser when a thumb drive is inserted. As with all the menus, this one is slightly confusing to control.
When viewing a photo, you can zoom in or out, get file info, or begin a slideshow. We did not like the way the menu was laid out.
The music navigator must be accessed from the main menu; it doesn't just pop up, and you can't get to it from the photo viewer. It's like the photo viewer, but even more confusing. You can check songs to favorite them, then filter to show only those. We had real trouble just figuring out how to get a song to play, and the manual had nothing to say on the topic.
The M320VT offers no other media playback.
As a small LED-edgelit LCD, the M320VT does not require much electricity. It does seem to use more than other LCDs of a similar size, though. We calculated an approximate cost-per-year of viewing for a few settings: brightest, dimmest, and brightness recommended for viewing in a dark room. (More on how we test Power Consumption.)
Below, we've compiled a chart of power consumption of a few similarly-costed LCD screens. Oddly, the M320VT seems to use more electricity than other 32-inch displays that aren't LED-edgelit.
These results may be due to the processing, because edge-lit LEDs should generally be less expensive to maintain. In fact, Vizio even advertises low energy cost as one of this television's features. Our instinct to dismiss advertisements as misleading again proves founded, as this display is only especially cost-efficient for a brightness lower than the minimum recommendation of 200 cd/m2.
Value Comparison Summary
For a price discrepancy of over $300, we would stick with the Vizio M320VT if we needed a small LCD in a pinch. The Sony has better connectivity by a lot, and we preferred its color rendering overall. Apart from these two areas, however, the differences between the TVs' performances were either indistinguishable or better in the Vizio. If we could find the TVs available for a similar price, we might consider the Sony KDL-32EX600 for its better connectivity and interface, but we don't think these differences add up to $360.
Blacks & Whites
The Sony and the Vizio have the most similar contrast capabilities out of this selection of LCDs, but the Vizio still wins handily with its darker black and a brighter white. The Sony is the only TV here which even appeared to put up a fight, though.
The two TVs both have pretty good color accuracy, but the Sony KDL-32EX600 tends to run blue. Additionally, its false hues tend to exceed the boundary of perceptibility much more than the Vizio. The RGB curves of the Sony are slightly better, though, and exhibit slightly less banding. It's ultimately your choice which you consider more important, color temperature accuracy or the ability to display smooth gradients. We would probably choose the smooth color bands of the KDL-32EX600, despite its red peaking.
The KDL-32EX600 had better motion processing than the Vizio M320VT by a small margin. In practice, though, it's very unlikely that anyone would be able to tell the difference with a discrepancy this slight. We would consider them even.
The Vizio had a slightly wider viewing angle than the Sony, with truer colors on the slant, as well. In the end, though, these are two mediocre LCD scores, neither of which would hold a candle to the viewing angle of a plasma.
The Sony KDL-32EX600 had more of every port available to the Vizio M320VT, plus a bonus analog audio out. The Vizio rolls over in this category, even without considering that the ports on the Sony have better placement and a swivel base.
There aren't many other considerations to make between these similarly-categorized LED-edgelit displays, but if we had to pick one, we would talk about the M320VT's menus. We found them frustrating enough to use to consider them a reason not to buy the television. You can read more about this in our Menus section.
Value Comparison Summary
For a similar MSRP, you may wonder if it's worth the extra hundred bucks to buy the LED-edgelit M320VT, when you could save a bit of cash with the E320VL Vizio model, released only months beforehand. For a few reasons, not the least of which is the native 1080p format, we think it's well worth the slightly heftier price tag.
Blacks & Whites
The relatively poor black level of the Vizio E320VL is likely due to its CCFL method of backlighting. With LED edgelights that Vizio savagely dubs "Razor," the M320VT lords over its predecessor like a raging barbarian in the arena of video contrast.
The Vizio M320VT and E320VL models both have good color temperature, but the M320VT does a better job on the whole. While the E320VL wanders blue for quite a while in the moderately dark shades, the M320VT juts out of the limit of perceptibility only rarely. With RGB curves that don't peak, the M320VT is evidence that LED edgelighting may have improved Vizio LCDs' color performance.
Motion is one of the categories in which Vizio really improved with the release of the M320VT. The E320VL has motion rendering that's barely passable compared to the motion processing of the M320VT.
Both Vizio LCDs put up better viewing angles than the similarly-categorized Sony or LG. The angle of the M320VT is even better than the Vizio E320VL, though.
With the M320VT model performing better in so many sections, we wonder why Vizio decided to scale back on a couple of its audio ports. For the addition of a pair of HDMI ports, though, we think it's a good trade. Ultimately, neither of these displays has great connectivity, but the M320VT's extra HDMIs are probably worth it if you don't need access to an analog audio out.
USB photo and mp3 playback is probably not a selling point, but it is another addition the Vizio E320VL lacks. The M320VT performs better in virtually every category and doesn't have a dopey-looking beveled frame that says to the consumer, "I'm some kind of historic artifact that could be permanently damaged by the oils on your finger, so please don't touch. No flash photography, either."
Value Comparison Summary
With a lower MSRP thanks to improvements in technology, the Vizio M320VT is a better choice and a better value than the LG 32LD450. Possibly due to its LED edgelighting method of illumination, this Vizio consistently outperforms the older LG in contrast, motion, and viewing angle.
Blacks & Whites
Contrast is the first category in which the LG 32LD450 doesn't even try, compared to the Vizio M320VT. Its peak white level is a little brighter, but due to our logarithmic perception of light, this doesn't begin to make up for its terrible black. The deeper black and dimmer white of the Vizio are arguably due to its LEDedgelighting. The end result, though, is clear: the LG never had a chance.
The color battle is close, with the M320VT having great color temperature while the LG 32LD450 has better color curves. We prefer the smooth color bands and more accurate gamut of the LG overall, despite the fact that it spends a lot of its darker color displays running warm.
The LG 32LD450 was actually the only television in this group to put up a fight with the M320VT in the motion category. However, the Vizio M320VT still wins here with its superior overall motion score.
The LG 32LD450 had the worst viewing angle of this group of HDTVs, contrast falling only 26° from center for a total angle of 52°. The Vizio had the best, with its combined angle of 76°. In the land of LCD viewing angles, the Vizio M320VT reigns king.
Like most TVs in this range, the LG 32LD450 has better audio ports than the Vizio M320VT. It also has two composite ports and a dedicated component in contrast to the M320VT's single shared port, though. So while the LG offers more older connectors, the Vizio M320VT may still be a better choice with additional HDMI ports upping its count to four. The LG's RS-232C port is unlikely to see use at this price category.
The Vizio M320VT and LG 32DL450 both have simple USB photo and mp3 playback capabilities, which is relatively standard these days. While the annoying nature of the Vizio menu system might be a reason to consider buying a different TV, the LG doesn't appear to do much better. In any case, you can read more about this in our Menus section before deciding whether or not this will bother you in your TV usage.
The Vizio M320VT series is comprised of four LED-edgelit LCDs ranging from 32 to 47 inches in size. They all share the same simplistic port repertoire, including a single shared component/composite port, 1080p format (1920 x 1080), and simple jpeg and mp3 playback capability via the USB port. The poor documentation of all of these televisions makes it difficult to tell with certainty what ports and media types the quartet of screens supports, so this might also be considered a shared trait.
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.