This year TVs aren't just getting bigger—they're also getting wider, thanks to a new line of Vizio LCD sets that feature a 21:9 aspect ratio, rather than the 16:9 screens found on other TVs.
The XVT Cinemawide-series LCDs—initially announced about 18 months ago and previewed at CES this past January—are loaded with features, including Vizio's passive Theater 3D technology, an edge LED backlight with local dimming, built-in Wi-Fi, and the company's VIA (Vizio Internet Apps) Smart TV platform. Each model comes with a Bluetooth universal remote control with a keyboard, plus four sets of passive, polarized 3D glasses.
The primary benefit of the wider screen is the ability to display the many movies now shot in the 2.35:1 format without black bars appearing at the top and bottom of the screen. But the 21:9 screen also allows viewers to watch a full-screen, 16:9 high-def image on the right side of the screen while accessing apps from a column on the left side of the screen. To accommodate the greater width, the screen has a resolution of 2560x1080 rather than the 1920x1080 resolution found on full-HD 1080p sets.
At CES, Vizio announced three models, in 50-, 58-, and 71-inch screen sizes. The first to arrive is the 58-inch XVT3D580CM, which will be priced at $2,800, although Vizio says it will offer the TV for $2,500 as a limited-time introductory offer. The TV can be ordered at Vizio.com.
We expect these new 21:9 TVs to be a niche product targeting movie fans who watch a lot of Blu-ray movies in the 2.35:1 format. Let us know what you think of these new, wider sets, and whether you think it's worth the premium in your home theater setup. And check our free TV buying guide at ConsumerReports.org.
—James K. Willcox