60-inch, 70-inch and 80-inch TVs are pouring out at rapid rates nowadays as the age of plasma TVs is coming to a close. Many of these TVs are 1080p TVs while an increasing number of them are 4K displays. 4K displays literally put the 1080p models to shame but people continue to buy 1080p displays because they are dropping in price. This movement could be seen as a threat by California-based TV manufacturer VIZIO because the company has a strong reputation for cheap TVs. But VIZIO isn’t fazed and didn’t even decide to launch any 4K displays of their own this 2013. This 2013, it is all about refining the budget 1080p TV and all sizes are covered. But not everyone is eyeing a massive 60-inch display even if they can afford it. A 50-inch TV is still pretty big can fit in smaller living room environments. To keep its budget-minded image intact, VIZIO is offering the VIZIO E500i-B1E at an attractive $649 price.
If you compare the E500i-B1E against the other 1080p TVs released in 2013, you will probably find most of the other displays more attractive. But remember, the VIZIO E500i-B1E is a $649 TV and design is one of the areas that have to be simplified to cut costs. But while the E500i-B1E looks pretty generic, it should still impress the average consumer because of how thin the bezels are. It doesn’t get to the borderless category but it comes close enough and the display looks decent as a result.
The larger versions of the VIZIO E-series have 4 HDMI ports and although the VIZIO E500i-B1E is fairly large, it only has 3 HDMI ports. This means that connecting a set-top box, gaming console and a Blu-ray player leaves nothing vacant and you will need to consider an AV receiver or HDMI splitter if you need more ports. There is a set of component ports but you won’t be able to use them if you need to hook up something that relies on the composite ports since they are shared.
The E500i-B1E may be a stripped down version of its M-series counterpart –the M551D-A2R but the VIZIO E500i-B1E has a surprisingly broad feature set. Many of the Smart TV features are retained and it has a few interesting twists that give the E500i-B1E a leg up against other Smart TVs. For the VIZIO E500i-B1E, the advantage lies in its simple interface. Other Smart TVs use the whole TV screen presenting all sorts of information and app shortcuts but it might overwhelm beginner users. The VIZIO Internet Apps Plus interface comes out very simple as it only consists of a bunch of tiles laid out horizontally on the bottom of the screen. Whatever is currently playing on the screen will continue to play so you can select a tile without missing anything. Most of the tiles represent apps so you can pretty much launch known apps like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Facebook, USA Today M-GO and Amazon in just a couple of steps. Getting the TV setup is pretty simple too if you have a wireless router. The TV has its own built-in wireless LAN to simplify the connection process.
The VIZIO E500i-B1E does have its own full screen interface for VIZIO Internet Apps Plus but you only have to go there if you wish to add more apps to the launcher bar. There are dozens of other apps you can install to the TV and installation is as simple as getting an app for your smartphone.
The E500i-B1E comes with only one remote control but it is mighty functional. The front of the remote control doesn’t come with an overwhelming set of buttons which is fine for beginners. Pressing the VIZIO logo button once will conveniently bring up the app launcher and pressing it again takes you to the screen where you can search for additional apps to install. If you want to run the Amazon, Netflix or M-GO app, you don’t even have to go through the app launcher because the front of the remote features 3 dedicated buttons for those specific apps. The remote is complete with directional buttons and an OK button for navigating the launcher and any VIZIO TV app.
But when you need to enter text for a certain purpose such as searching for a YouTube video, using the directional buttons to select a letter can be tedious. That is when you should flip the remote control and use the QWERTY keyboard to quickly enter text. The keyboard side of the remote also features directional controls along with 4 buttons labeled “A”, “B”, “X” and “Y” respectively and they all have gaming implications. It so happens that the VIZIO Internet Apps Plus interface offers some downloadable games as well.
The Smart TV features of the VIZIO E500i-B1E are pretty rich and the apps don’t take too long to load. Other than the absence of 3D features, there isn’t so much compromise in the features area. That leaves the picture quality and audio quality remaining and right off the bat, the E500i-B1E is slightly inferior to the high-end M-series displays. It lacks the Razor LED technology which greatly enhances the picture quality and color accuracy while minimizing energy consumption. But at least the VIZIO E500i-B1E is still an LED TV so the picture details look more defined and vivid compared to the cheap LCD displays. The Smart Dimming feature is retained too so you still get that good contrast in all areas of the screen. It also uses the SRS StudioSound HD technology to provide slight enhancements to the audio quality although a sound bar is still recommend if you plan on watching a lot of movies.
The key things that ultimately matter most is the fact that the E500i-B1E is a 50-inch display, it has great Smart TV features and the price is cheap at $649. TV enthusiasts might be willing to spend a little bit more for a better TV but the picture quality of the VIZIO E500i-B1E isn’t awful. Thanks to VIZIO, decent 50-inch TVs are no longer ridiculously expensive.
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