By: Andrew Robinson
October 2, 2012

With 4K and OLED presumably right around the corner, it may not make a lot of sense for anyone to be too excited for a measly 'ol HDTV - but I am. Just because "better" may be out there doesn't mean our current standard HD is ready to go quietly into that good night; if anything, I think it may have its best days ahead. Case in point: the all-new Vizio E601i-A3 (E601i) 60-inch edge-lit LED HDTV. Retail priced at under $1,000 retail ($999.99 to be exact), this 60-inch display not only puts stalwarts like Sharp and Panasonic on notice, it is a clear shot across 4K's bow. If HD can't beat 4K in the resolution war, then it will take the fight to the consumer where it matters most - the wallet. But is the Vizio good enough to consider buying, knowing 4K is just around the bend? That is what I wanted to find out.

I have to admit, Vizio is among the more exciting brands in the consumer space, if for no other reason than they're never boring. While high-end enthusiasts may shrug at Vizio's Costco brand image and dismiss them as entry-level, I don't. Vizio has changed the game in more ways than one, and whether you like its products or despise them, we should all give credit where credit is due. Without Vizio, companies like Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Sharp would have had no reason to compete in the price wars as feverishly as they have in recent years. Moreover, unlike its competitors, Vizio has been actively trying to bolster its brand image by manufacturing increasingly better-performing models, while other companies cut corners and/or features in order to compete on cost.

The E601i is a prime example of where I believe Vizio is headed, for it not only shatters the 60-inch price barrier originally set by Sharp, it looks the part of a higher-end product than nearly any other budget-oriented display I've seen recently. Taking a page out of the Kuro handbook (yes, I went there and it won't be the last time), the E601i looks more tailored than gimmicky, thanks to its narrow (but not edgeless) black bezel. The bezel itself is a mere three quarters of an inch thick on all sides and is finished in gloss black. There's no gaudy silver surround or accent in the style that seems to be going around these days; even the Vizio nameplate is largely hidden from prominence, thanks to its near black-on-black silk screening. I like that. The display itself (without the included stand) measures 54 inches wide by 32 inches tall and just under two inches deep. The E601i, despite its size, is manageable in its weight, tipping the scales at 54 pounds, again, without its stand. With the included stand, the E601i's weight jumps to nearly 62 pounds and the depth increases to 11 inches.

Around back, it's more good news: the inputs are clearly and neatly laid out with enough real estate to accommodate both chunky terminations and aid in proper cable management, something that many edge-lit LED displays lack. Inputs are both side-mounted and bottom-mounted and include four HDMI (two side, two down), one component (bottom), one composite (bottom), one VGA (bottom), one RF (bottom), one Ethernet (bottom) and two USB (side). Outputs include an SPDIF digital audio out (bottom) and an analog audio out (bottom).

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