Vizio E601I-A3 - Vizio’s Value Packed $1,000 HDTV

12/20/2012 9:27:47 AM

One thousand dollars is a sweet spot for HDTVs, and the Vizio E601I-A3 offers a pretty compelling case to spend just that much on one with a large screen. As a 60-inch LED HDTV, the E601I offers a big, bright picture and built-in Wi-Fi to access plenty of online services. It doesn’t include 3D support, though, and its colors could stand to be more accurate (thankfully, you can calibrate the screen through plenty of settings to get it to that point). It’s a fine choice for a big HDTV, even if you can find slightly less experience or slightly better screens.

Vizio E601I-A3


The E601I is large and a bit plain looking, but not unattractively so. The bezel is a flat, glossy black to match the rectangular base, which is sturdy but doesn’t let the screen pivot. There are no notable lights or accents on the bezel besides a metallic Vizio logo on the lower-right corner. A thin row of buttons sits on the left edge of the HDTV for basic functions, but like most HDTV controls they’re vestigial and you’ll be using the remote most of the time. On the back are two HDMI ports, two USB ports, and component/composite video inputs sit facing the left of the screen; the remaining two HDMI ports, RF connector for the built-in tuner (over-the-air or ClearQAM), Ethernet port, digital and analog audio inputs, and VGA input face down.

The remote control is streamlined over the one included with the last-generation Vizio M3D550KD. Instead of a sliding design, it’s simply one piece of plastic with a standard remote control on one side and a QWERTY keyboard on the other for inputting text. It feels sturdier in the hand, but its small, rubber buttons are a bit insensitive and it isn’t backlit.

You can access a variety of online content and social networking services on the E601 through its built-in Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection. By pressing the VIA (Vizio Internet Apps) button in the middle of the remote, you can bring up a list of services on the bottom of the screen. This is a convenient way to go through online offerings without interrupting what you’re watching, but it doesn’t have the easy-to-use thoughtfulness of a dedicated hub menu like the ones you see on Samsung and LG HDTVs. You can access Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu videos and apps, Yahoo! Widgets, and Facebook, among other services.

The E601I-A3’s remote control is sturdy, but its buttons are insensitive and not backlit.

The E601I-A3’s remote control is sturdy, but its buttons are insensitive and not backlit.


After basic brightness and contrast calibration, the E601 reached a peak brightness of 250.88 candelas per square meter (cd/m2) and displayed a modest black level of 0.05cd/m2, for a tested contrast ratio of 1:5,017. This is fine for a budget HDTV, but higher-end screens can reach black levels as low as 0.01cd/m2 and hit contrast ratios into the six digits.

Color levels were generally accurate, but the E601I showed greens as slightly cool. The set has multiple color temperature adjustment settings, so you can tweak individual channels to suit your needs.

The Blu-ray release of Piranha looked bright and sharp on the E601I, but it was lacking in shadow detail and its colors looked slightly off without calibration. The sunny, lakeside scenes ran cool and looked slightly oversaturated, with greens and blues popping out more than the warm landscape and flesh tones. Dark, murky scenes under the water consumed fine details like the textures of scuba gear. In both cases, the picture became slightly pale for off-axis viewing; it’s still very watchable if you sit near the side of the screen, but it loses most of its visual pop.

The E601I has only a poorly labeled setting to choose between prioritizing contrast (DRC) and energy efficiency (OPC). Neither setting noticeably affected the screen’s picture or power consumption, which measured 118 watts under normal use. For an LED-lit HDTV, this isn’t a particularly energy efficient model, but it’s not as power hungry as plasma screens.

Vizio E601I-A3

The Vizio E601I-A3 is a fully featured LED HDTV you can pick up for just south of $1,000, and it offers a big screen and solid performance for its price. It doesn’t support 3D and its online services are less polished in their presentation than some other brands’ HDTVs, but it’s a very good HDTV if you want something big for a small price. Its picture quality isn’t especially superb, though and if you really want to save money on a big HDTV, consider instead our Editors’ Choice budget plasma, the Samsung PN51E490B4F. It’s only 51 inches and 720p resolution, but it costs more than $300 less than the E601, support 3D, and includes two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses.


Price: $999.99 list

Rating: 7/10

Pros: Inexpensive for its size. Very bright. Built-in Wi-Fi.

Cons: Not that energy efficient for an LED HDTV. Modest black levels. Colors run slightly cool.


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