The front of the Vizio VL420M is dominated by the dark brown bezel, which is almost black. The bezel has angular edges, with a speaker built into it below the display.
We weren't able to take a photo of the back of the Vizio VL420M, but it's relatively plain, with ports located on the right side when viewing the back.
There is nothing on the right side of the Vizio VL420M. On the left side you'll find both the on-tv controls and an arrangement of ports.
The Vizio VL420M's stand is a simple non-rotating affair.
Vizio is heavily promoting the aesthetic features of their M-series televisions. The VL420M is finished in dark brown, almost black, with nothing to offset the color. Although it is interesting it did not impress us overly. This is obviously an area where personal opinion is a major factor.
Display Size & Technology
The Vizio VL420M is a 42-inch LCD. Unlike Vizio's top of the end LED backlit HDTVs this mid-range model uses a standard CCFL backlight. LCD televisions provide better brightness than their Plasma counterparts, but often suffer in terms of viewing angle.
Formats & Resolution
The Vizio VL420M is a full 1080p HDTV, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. This means it can natively display the highest quality HD content.
Brightness, Blacks and Contrast Ratio
We weren't able to view much content on the Vizio VL420M, so we can't make a determination about the black level or brightness. Vizio states the VL420M's maximum brightness as 500 candelas per meter squared and the contrast ratio as 50,000:1. We won't be able to tell you how much those numbers reflect reality until we actually get the Vizio VL420M into our labs for review.
Once again the limited content being displayed on the Vizio VL420M made it impossible for us to make a determination about color performance.
Motion & Refresh Rate
One of last year's high-end features that has made it down into Vizio's M-series lineup is 120Hz refresh rate, which is twice the 60Hz refresh rate that is standard on televisions. This should improve motion performance, but we won't be able to tell for sure what the result is on the VL420M until we have it in our labs. We can say that previous Vizio HDTVs with 120Hz refresh rate have shown solid motion performance.
We were quite happy with the viewing angle we saw from the Vizio VL420M on the floor. We didn't notice any major fading or a serious reduction in contrast ratio. This is good as poor viewing angle is a major concern in LCD televisions.
Audio & Video Ports
The Vizio VL420M has two sets of ports. On the back you'll find the majority of ports, with three HDMI ports and an analog audio input as well as a VGA input and associated 3.5mm audio input for connecting the television to your computer to the left. In the middle are an S-video port, composite input with associated analog audio input and component input with analog audio input. At the far right are the antenna connector, digital audio out and analog audio out.
On the left side of the VL420M you'll find several other ports for easy access. There is another HDMI input here, for a total of 4 on the television, a composite video input, component video input and a single analog audio input that is shared between those two. There is also a USB port.
Media & Other Connectivity
The USB port found on the left side of the Vizio VL420M allows you to connect a USB device to the television and view photos and videos stored on it, as well as playing back music. We were not able to explore the media interface on the television.
The ports on the Vizio VL420M are well placed, with several handy ones found on the left side and the rest located just around the left side on the back. We do wish that the stand swiveled for even more convenient access, however.
The Vizio VL420M has a long grill built into the bezel below the display. Behind this grill are two speakers, each of which support 10 watt output. The VL420M also supports Vizio's simulated surround sound system, although we strongly recommend you invest in a real set of surround sound speakers if you want a real surround sound experience.
We were unable to see the Vizio VL420M's remote.
The Vizio VL420M's controls are found on the left side, located just above the ports on that side. The controls are different in that they are nestled into a corner and somewhat resemble keys on a piano. When pressed they click toward the front of the television. Unfortunately all the buttons are exactly the same, so you'll have to actually glance around the corner to figure out what button you are pressing.
The Vizio VL420M's menu system looks identical to the one we've seen on previous Vizio models, like the VF550XVT.
The Vizio VL420M is part of Vizio VLXX0M series of mid-range HDTVs. This series is available in 32, 37, 42 and 47 inch sizes, with slightly different options as you move up into larger lines. For example the 32 and 37 inch models lack the 120Hz refresh rate of the 42 and 47 inch models. The two larger models also add a fourth HDMI port and allow for media playback via the USB port.
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