You need to accept a few compromises when looking for a big HDTV on a budget. In fact, any budget HDTV usually have a relatively boring and chunky design,lack superior features beyond simply working as display, or sometimes mediocre picture. The VIZIO E500i-B1 falls into the last category. The 50-Inch 1080p Smart LED HDTV is a worthy deal on paper; it has one of those unassuming designs you’d expected in more premium HDTVs, and an array of connected features. However, its unforgiving over saturated colors and a dim panel work hard to ensure the unit’s picture quality isn’t quite up to snuff.
The VIZIO E500i-B1 is a fairly plain, flat screen on a flat, rectangular base that doesn’t swivel but compensates on a super-thin, one-centimeter glossy black bezel, giving it an elegant, sleek look. Apart from a silver Vizio logo on the lower-right corner and a light indicator on the lower-left corner, the 27.5-by-44.1-by-8.6 inch (HWD), 26.5 pound HDTV’s front panel lacks any form of adornment and is clearly disappear to fade from view when it’s on.
Two HDMI ports, a USB port, and optical stereo RCA audio outputs are conveniently set on the back of the screen, facing left and quite easy to access. Two more HDMI ports, an Ethernet port, a component video input, and an antenna/cable (ClearQAM) connection face downward. Vizio only used one physical control on the HDTV in the form of a square button on the lower-left corner of the physical control for powering the E500i-B1 between sources.
Otherwise, everything else must be done through the remote. It comes with a 6-inch remote that is slightly curved, like a vague cell phone design boosting of a prominent navigation pad. It has standard numbers as well as dedicated buttons for Smart TV apps such as Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, M-Go, and the Vizio Internet Apps (VIA) Plus hub.
The Vizio E5500i-B1 gives you access to online services through the VIA Plus interface over its inbuilt Wi-Fi or a wired Ethernet. All your usual content suspects are held here including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video,VUDU, MGO, IHeartRadio and YouTube. Music services like Pandora and Spotify are also available on the E550-B1, along with social networking services and other apps like Twitter, Facebook, and Fandango. there are plenty morse too.
The Smart TV gets good marks as far as performance goes. I personally tried it although i realized a few glitches in the setup process, but we managed to get everything to run smoothly once we got past those and hooked the set to our Wi-Fi network. Content streaming is superb, with fast load times and provides high quality images over Wi-Fi. This is another score in the bag considering that not all smart TV platforms perform well in content streaming. In addition to slimmer bezels at just 10mm thin, it profile has also received unto 30% upgrade from previous versions.
If you want a big, connected HDTV for well under $1000, the Vizio E550i-B1 makes a compelling case. It brings to your living room plenty of online services and a solid 50 inches of screen real estate and that alone makes it an appealing purchase. If its picture quality is anything to take home, we can comment it isn’t unto snuff, though, with wildly over saturated colors and fairly poor shadow detail.
If you are willing to give up on connected features and make due with a Roku Streaming Stick or Chromecast as your gateway to online services, a slightly better picture quality for a lower price isn’t far away. If you can spend a bit more, the 50-inch Samsung UN55MU8000 offers much better picture and comes with connected features, and it still comes in at an affordable sticker price.