Vizio has once again produced a very good big-screen HDTV for a reasonable price. While the Vizio E601I-A3 $998.00 at Amazon proved that you can get a solid 60-inch screen for under a grand, the M551D-A2R proves that you can get a very good 55-inch, 3D-capable screen for just over a grand. The 55-inch, LED-lit M551D-A2R is available for $1,099.99 (list) and comes packed with useful features and surprisingly solid performance, making it our new Editors' Choice midrange HDTV. If you don't want to spring four digits for 55 inches, the 50-inch M501D-A2R is effectively the same HDTV for $799.99 (list).
For its relatively low price, the M551D $1,098.00 at Amazon looks very stylish. A super-thin, quarter-inch black plastic bezel frames the 1.8-inch-thick screen, giving it a nearly bezel-free look except for a small protrusion in the lower-right hand corner holding the Vizio logo. A silver band wraps around the edges of the screen, matching the simple, skeletal rectangular base. On the back of the HDTV, an HDMI port, two USB ports, and a component video input face left, while three additional HDMI ports, optical and RCA stereo audio outputs, an antenna connector, and an Ethernet port face down. A tiny button on the back of the screen near the lower left corner acts as both a Power and Input button. If you need to do anything other than turn the HDTV on or cycle through inputs, you'll need to use the remote. This minimalist approach makes sense, because on-panel controls tend to be just for power and selecting the input, and doing anything else without the remote is difficult and awkward for all HDTVs.
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