Looking for a new TV but on a strict under-$500 budget? Want a large screen model that you don’t need to squint at from across the room?
There’s good news. Two recent models from Vizio — the 42-inch M422i-B1 and the 48-inch E480i-B2 — deliver an excellent picture and a robust set of Smart TV features for less than $500. Each is an LED LCD set with full array LED backlighting and local dimming, features usually found only in much more expensive models, providing darker blacks and great contrast, and less of the light bleed around the edges of standard edge-lit displays.
You’ll also get built-in Wi-Fi and an array of Smart TV apps, such as Netflix, Vudu, Hulu, Amazon and more. The M-Series remote even has a full QWERTY keyboard on the back, making it far easier to search for movies or shows by name. And Vizio doesn’t short you on HDMI ports, either (an annoying problem on so many low-priced sets), with 3 HDMI ports on the E480i-B2 and 4 on the M422i-B1.
Across the board, professional reviewers have been admirers of both model lines. CNET’s David Katzmaeir gave each 4 out of 5 stars in his detailed evaluations. And Reviewed.com said the E-Series “might be the TV deal of the year.” Actual owners have also been happy, awarding both the M- and E-Series 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon and 4.2 out of 5 stars (E-Series) and 4.6 out of 5 stars (M-Series) on Best Buy.
Other TVs at this price point (of which there are few real options) fail to measure up. The 47-inch LG Electronics 47LB5900 gets a strong 4.4 out of 5 star review from owners on Amazon, but is dinged on rtings.com for its poor contrast ratio and motion blur issues. The 46-inch Samsung UN46H6203 comes close to the Vizio on picture quality, but you get two fewer inches versus the Vizio, sluggish app performance, only 2 HDMI ports and slightly lower Amazon ratings. (3.8 out of 5 stars.)
The choice between the M-Series or E-Series comes down to whether you value the larger screen for your buck with the E-Series versus a marginally better image along with the convenience of a full QWERTY keyboard on the remote on the M-Series. Whichever way you go, you’ll be getting far more TV than would have been available a year ago for under $500.
This post was written by Josh Kirschner and originally appeared on Techlicious. More from Techlicious: