If big is your bag, but you don't want to break the bank to get solid picture quality, you'll have a hard time finding a better set than the Vizio E601i-A3. The feature lineup lacks 3D, but is otherwise impressive considering this set's price tag.
A big, bright picture and accurate colors go a long way. While its picture quality doesn't measure up to plasma rivals or some higher-priced LED TVs, such as the 55-inch Sony KDL-55HX850 (*Est. $2,300), the picture quality is very good for an LCD set in its class, critics say.
Black levels are the major shortfall; most say they are unimpressive. However, the TV has a matte screen that helps it outperform some competing sets under normal lighting conditions, where glare can be a concern. Uniformity, while not perfect, is still better than that of some higher-end sets, such as the 60-inch Samsung UN60ES6500 (*Est. $2,100), reviewers say. In addition, uniformity can be further controlled by reducing the brightness of the backlight.
Color performance is this set's strong point; all critics say that colors are generally accurate and well saturated. At Home Theater magazine, Thomas J. Norton says that following his calibration the Vizio's color "was so good, I was grasping to find something, anything, to complain about." The one thing he and others, such as CNET's David Katzmaier, do see is that the deepest blacks show a slight shift to the blue. However, that's not unusual for a less expensive LCD set, and the color shift is less noticeable than on some competing sets.
Many critics are surprised by the Vizio's robust sound system, an unexpected strength in a slim LED frame. Audiophiles may still prefer to hook up their own speakers, but other buyers should be pleased.
Off-axis performance or viewing angle issues are about the same as with most LED-LCD TVs. Color saturation deteriorates notably when viewers are seated at progressively wider angles.
A prize package at this price. Only one reviewer mourns the absence of 3D. The rest think that's no great loss, given the Vizio E601i-A3's heap of features. The set includes the same Vizio Smart TV platform found in more expensive Vizio TVs. Though it's a little dated-looking, the user interface is still well liked, and critics say response is generally speedy. In terms of content, most of the major providers are represented, including Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Vudu, Pandora and Rhapsody. Skype is scheduled to be supported, too, but you'll have to buy a $70 camera/speakerphone to use it, and reports indicate that the Skype App for this set is not yet available.
In terms of total apps, Vizio's platform falls short of some other set makers, such as Samsung, let alone Roku's stand-alone boxes. There is no Internet browser or App store, but a selection of apps are available free at the Yahoo Connected TV Store. Among the most useful are AOL HD, eBay, Fandango (with ticket purchasing) and Vimeo. Wi-Fi is built in, as is DLNA compliance, allowing you to stream content from your computer.
Vizio is one of the many TV makers that have taken to quoting an effective refresh rate rather than an actual one in its set specifications. See our discussion of this in our full report on LCD TVs. As a result, the 120 Hz effective refresh rate for this TV translates to an actual refresh rate of 60 Hz -- the same as a standard set.
Big but not bulky. The
screen of the black Vizio E601i-A3 has a bezel so
razor-thin that it's nearly nonexistent. One Amazon.com user finds this 60-inch
TV no bigger than a 55-inch predecessor. Critics note the base doesn't swivel,
but don't see that as a real issue. Clearly labeled, back-panel connections are
face down or to the side, presenting no problem for a
Most reviewers don't love the small buttons on the undersized remote. It's not backlit and takes some getting used to in dark rooms. But most approve the remote's two-sided flipper design. One side has all the standard buttons, plus shortcut keys for Amazon Instant Video and Netflix. The other has a full QWERTY keyboard for text input, a four-way directional pad and very usable gaming buttons. Fans of the two-sided remote find the QWERTY keyboard and gaming controls ease navigation between the TV, Internet apps, games and computer files.
Unlike the remote on some Vizio sets, this one does not feature Bluetooth connectivity; it uses only infrared technology to signal the TV. This can be a drawback, as it means you have to aim the remote at the screen to make sure all your button presses register. Of course, that's the same negative you'll find with the vast majority of TV remote controls.
Currently the best value in a large-screen LED TV. While the Vizio E601i-A3's picture quality doesn't reach videophile standards, it's still very good for its price. A robust streaming platform (with built-in Wi-Fi) and sleek design complete a package that's hard to beat among value-oriented sets.
Review Credibility: Excellent CNET's evaluations are grounded in thorough hands-on testing. Though highly rated, this TV takes a knock for low black levels. Its picture quality doesn't match up to the Panasonic TC-P60U50, a similarly priced but dumb plasma competitor. However, the VizioE601i-A3's total package of performance, design and online content are strong enough to make it CNET's big-screen value pick of the year.
Review: Best Big-Screen LED TV Value, David Katzmaier, Dec. 18, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent HomeTheaterReview.com's appraisal is among the most glowing of the testing-backed analyses of this TV. Blown away by the Vizio E601i-A3's color and performance, Andrew Robinson recommends it to everyone, including dedicated gamers. Apart from a few minor quibbles, he says this TV outperforms rivals costing thousands more, and even "looks the part."
Review: Vizio E601i-A3 60-inch LED HDTV Reviewed, Andrew Robinson, Oct. 2, 2012
3. Home Theater Magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent Home Theater magazine offers in-depth, testing-based reviews. Thomas J. Norton's frequently techie observations don't obscure his satisfaction with the Vizio E601i-A3's overall performance and affordability. Though he has some limited concerns about the viewing angle, he finds the TV "an outstanding value" that delivers high quality "you couldn't dream of a few years ago -- at any price."
Review: Vizio E601i-A3 LCD HDTV, Thomas J. Norton, Nov. 20, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent Will Greenwald is not as impressed with the Vizio E601i-A3 as some other reviewers. He says that the picture is good, if nothing special, and that several smaller-screen sets offer a better picture at near the same price. Along with picture quality, the absence of 3D seems to be a sore spot. Still, he says that among 60-inch sets the Vizio sells for a "very fair price."
Review: Vizio E601I-A3, Will Greenwald, Oct. 9, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good This technically savvy source provides a fairly concise but entirely useful review of the Vizio E601i-A3. Though Rick Broida reports some image shortfalls, he adds they can be minimized by tweaking. He finds a few other deficits that are easily outweighed by a bumper crop of strengths in a TV loaded with value.
Review: Vizio Razor LED TV E601I-A3: A Large Screen for Small Money, Rick Broida, Nov. 27, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good More than half of the over 260 users reporting at Amazon.com give this TV a perfect 5-star rating. A majority of the rest are also highly satisfied with the performance, Smart TV features and budget pricing of the Vizio E601i-A3. Fairly few express complaints. Some owners mention signal delay or are unhappy about a narrow viewing angle.
Review: Vizio E601i-A3 60-inch 1080p 120Hz Razor LED Smart HDTV, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of December 2012