Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Vizio television -- don't buy one!

A chronology of events in the life of my 50" Vizio plasma television:

April 2006 I win a poker tournament.

June 2006 After shopping extensively, I purchase a 50" Vizio plasma television from Costco for (gulp) $2,000. The contrast ratios and picture quality seem equal or better to those of the name brands, which were about $1,000 more.

July 2006 -- January 2007 Sweet, sweet television viewing bliss, peaking during the NFL season with the SundayTicket package in high definition.

February 3, 2007 Screen inexplicably darkens across the lower hemisphere. Vizio promises to have technician on-site to fix television within 10 working days.

February 20, 2007 Ten working days pass, no word on the repairs. I call Vizio again, technician announces that screen cannot be fixed and that Vizio will send me a new television within...10 working days. Through use of clever lawyerly tricks I manage to get shipping expedited.

February 28, 2007 New television arrives! Hallelujah! Plug DirecTv into new television via expensive HDMI cables and...nada. HDMI inputs on new replacement television don't work! Bummer! Call Vizio technical support again. Can't be fixed. Third replacement television ordered. Estimated arrival time? Ten working days.

The shame of it is, it's a fantastic television set...when it works. Which is not very often lately.


Anonymous Jimmimoose said...

Aw, poor Ben has to make due with a slightly darkened lower half on his more-than-four-foot Plasma screen TV for a few more days while they sent him a third multi-thousand dollar set? Damn, that's a tough one there, Benji.

;-) I'd be pissed, too.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also was saddened to hear of his plight, but was thanking .... uhhh, somebody that football season is over so his deprivation doesn't lead to desperate measures. And we would like to know those 'lawyerly tricks', thank you. xxoo Momthie

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Nic said...

Yes, thank goodness it happened after the super bowl. It’s bad news for my American Idol obsession though.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Nic said...

And thanks to Vizio, I had to wake up early, hand over $10 to soem dudes for a tv that doesn't even work and watch Ben have a fit.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

See, to me, the fact that I paid enough to feed a village in Nigeria for a year means the television -- or its replacement -- should f****ing work. But granted, maybe I need some perspective.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trying to light one candle ....

HDMI isn’t going to make much difference in the picture compared to component input and sound will actually be inferior if you’re feeding into external speakers.

Where HDMI makes a BIG difference is if you use the HDMI terminal for an HDMI-output DVD player that can “upscale” from 480i to 1080i. The resulting picture isn’t “true” Hi-Def but darn near. Most of the major brand DVD players now have this option (check out Oppo, though, if you want an outstanding HDMI-upgrade DVD player).

Be thankful that (a) you were still under warranty and (b) you didn’t wake up with four inches of snow on the ground....

-- Big Daddy

6:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SNOW DAY!! We love 8 inches of snow on the ground!! haha Now my combo DVD VHS player died in the big windstorm we had a few months back. Can I get a good quality one of those? (I have some videos I cannot replace... my Lenny!) Mamther

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Jimmimoose said...

Abandon your ancient technology, mother, no more VHS or casette tapes. Anything that you have can be transmitted to newer, higher quality formats, or found again thanks to the miracles of the interwebs!

4:16 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

I dunno, Dad. The lack of HDMI seems to be having a huge impact on picture quality -- my DirecTv menus are blurry, and I'm no longer transferring at 1080i.

I don't have a DVD with HDMI output. Thanks to these comments, I will soon.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben said...
I dunno, Dad. The lack of HDMI seems to be having a huge impact on picture quality -- my DirecTv menus are blurry, and I'm no longer transferring at 1080i.

I don't have a DVD with HDMI output. Thanks to these comments, I will soon.

There shouldn't be any difference in picture quality from your DirectTV between HDMI and component (red, green, blue) output -- both carry 1080i and there shouldn't be any difference between them. Chances are, you need to change a setting somewhere, either on the TV or the DTV box. For a Hi-Def signal, there should be no difference in how they look.

For TV, the only difference that you'll notice is in sound if you feed into an external audio system. HDMI doens't carry Dolby sound. Usually, you can bypass HDMI sound and use digital sound output from your box separately.

The big difference comes when you play DVDs; going from 480i to 1080i makes for a much richer and sharper picture. But it can be tricky finding the right player.

Toshiba and Phillips were the first to use HDMI to "upgrade" the signal to pseudo-hidef but each have their problems.

Toshiba put HDMI on their low-end (price) players and it's an outstanding value if you get one that lasts more than a few months, which is problematic. Also, the head is slow and finicky and often freezes, especially on "home burned" DVDs.

The Phillips is better on both of these problems but has one of its own. The format of an HDMI signal isn't adjustable (i.e., "letter box," "zoom," etc. options on the TV don't work) and it's up to the DVD player to automatically pick the proper format. The Phillips has a tendency to "stretch" everything, which is fine for 16:9 signals but if you're watching a DVD of a TV show in 4:3 format, you have to go thrugh the set-up process to keep it from being squished.

Check out the Oppo ( and reviews thereof. It's outstanding in quality and performance. Costs about twice as much but that's relative, compared to previous prices for DVD players ($229 for the Oppo).

Just passing along info to consider.

-- Big Daddy

7:55 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Thanks Dad, that's extraordinarily useful. My connection cables right now are red, yellow & white -- but I have a set of Monster Cables that are red-green-blue. Those didn't seem to work either, but I'll fiddle around tonight.

2:39 PM  

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