Vizio E55-C2 55-inch LED/LCD Smart TV - Review

Vizio E55-C2 55-inch LED/LCD Smart TV
Vizio E55-C2 55-inch LED/LCD Smart TV. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

With TV makers continually hyping 4K and trying to get consumers on the Ultra HD bandwagon, sometimes the mainstream consumer that just wants an affordable standard HDTV seems to be getting ignored.

Well, one TV maker is definitely not pushing such consumers away, as Vizio is offering up an extensive line of 1080p HDTVs for 2015 that not only offer a lot of features but are very affordable. One example is the E55-C2. For more details on this set, keep reading this review.

The Vizio E55-C2 is a stylish-looking, thin bezel, 55-inch 1080p LCD TV that incorporates full array LED backlighting, as well as an integrated Smart TV platform.

Vizio E55-C2: Included Features

2. 1080p video upscaling/processing for all non-1080p input sources.

4. Inputs: Three HDMI and One shared Component and Composite composite video input.

5. Analog stereo inputs (paired with the component and composite video inputs).

6. Audio Outputs: One Digital Optical and one set of analog audio outputs. Also, one HDMI input is also Audio Return Channel-enabled.

7. Built-in stereo speaker system (15 watts x 2) for use in lieu of the outputting audio to an external audio system. However, connecting to an external audio system is highly recommended.

8. 1 USB port for access to audio, video, and still image files stored on flash drives or other compatible USB-connectable devices.

9. The E55-C2 provides both Ethernet and WiFi connectivity options for internet access (router required).

10. Access to internet streaming content via Vizio Internet Apps Plus feature (supported by Yahoo).

11. Access to content store on compatible local network connected DLNA devices

12. ATSC/NTSC/QAM tuners for reception of over-the-air and unscrambled high definition/standard definition digital cable signals.

13. HDMI-CEC remote control link for compatible devices.

14. Wireless Infrared Remote Control included.

15. Energy Star 6.1 rated.

For a closer look at the features and functions of the E55-C2, check out my supplementary Photo Profile

Video Performance

To start, the Vizio E55-C2's screen has a matte surface, instead of an additional glass overlay. This design reduces glare from ambient light sources, such as lamps or open windows.

The TV is a very good performer. The full-array LED backlight system with 12 local dimming zones, which provides even black levels across the entire displayed image, as well as reducing corner spotlighting and white-leakage around objects or white letters displayed on a black background (such as closing credits).

Out-of-the-box, the E55-C2's color is pretty accurate, with several practical settings that can compensate for several types of room lighting conditions, as well as manual setting options to accommodate user preferences. However, do avoid the Vivid setting if at all possible, as that over-pumps the color, brightness, and contrast levels that are more suitable for store display conditions than for home viewing environments (in fact, when you first unpack to TV and turn it on, the built-in store demo loop starts running).

If you really want to dig deep into picture settings, the Vizio E55-C2 also provides test patterns and setting options that can be used by more experienced consumers or a TV tech.

Also, color saturation, detail, and contrast range were all very good with HDMI connected sources, especially Blu-ray Discs. HD TV broadcast and cable content looked very good as well, as does movie and TV content via streaming services such as Netflix.

However, the E55-C2 did not fair as well with standard definition analog cable connected via RF input and lower resolution internet streaming sources, exhibiting noise and edge artifacts. This was also born out in additional video performances tests. Although the E55-C2 does provide several video noise reduction settings, depending on how they are engaged, they may also result in an excessively softened image.

On the other hand, the E55-C2 exhibited an overall smooth motion response, by combining a 120Hz effective refresh rate (60Hz native) with backlight scanning (Clear Action feature) for a 240Hz-like effect. Turning off the Clear Action feature disables the Backlight Scanning process. Also,  the dreaded "Soap Opera effect", which gives film content the appearance that it was shot on video, is not that pronounced, but if you prefer, taking advantage of the Film Mode setting for film-based sources may help reduce any unwanted "Soap Opera Effect".

To further determine the video processing capabilities of the set, I conducted a series of tests to find out how well the E55-C2 processes and scales standard definition source content from a DVD source (which can also apply to standard definition TV and movie streaming services), as well as the ability to perform 1080i-to-1080p conversion (which a TV would have to perform when faced with a 1080i broadcast or cable content source).

For a closer look at these video processing factors, check out a sampling of Video Performance Test Results.

Audio Performance

The Vizio E55-C2 provides minimal audio settings but does include both DTS StudioSound and DTS TruVolume.

DTS TruSurround creates a wider sound field from the TV's built-in speakers, while TruVolume compensates for level changes within a program or when changing between sources.

If you are planning to use this TV as your main set, I would suggest considering even a modest sound bar, paired with a small subwoofer to get a better audio listening result. However, I did find that in comparison with some other TVs I have had experience with, the built-in audio system in the E55-C2, although not exceptional in the high or low-frequency department, does provide an OK midrange at sufficient volume that makes both dialog, music, and sound effects at least understandable and clear enough for a mid-sized room.

Smart TV Features

The E55-C2 also offers internet streaming features. Using the Vizio Internet Apps menu, you can access an abundance of internet streaming content, as well as add more via the Yahoo Connect TV Store. Some of the accessible services and sites include Amazon Instant Video, Crackle TV, Vudu, HuluPlus, M-Go, Netflix, Pandora, and YouTube.

In addition to internet streaming, the E55-C2 also allows access to stored content stored on local network connected PCs or other compatible devices, such as photos, music, or home videos.

Ease of Use

The E55-C2 provides an extensive onscreen menu system to make adjustments and access content. The menu system is composed of two parts: a TV and Apps menu that runs along the bottom of the TV screen, which allows shortcut access to the setting menus and selected internet and network media content, as well as a more comprehensive menu system that can be displayed on the left-hand side of the screen.

Both menu display options are accessible via the provided IR remote. I found the menu system easy to navigate, including the ability to add new streaming services using the included access to the Yahoo Connected TV Store.

However, although the remote control is compact and fits in an average-size hand well, I did feel that it wasn't always easy to use, especially in a darkened room, as it has very small buttons and is not backlit.

It must also be pointed out that the Vizio E55-C2 does not provide any onboard setting controls - everything, include power on/off is done via the remote - so don't lose it.

What I Liked About The Vizio E55-C2

1. Easy to unpack and set-up (weighs about 40lbs).

2. Black levels are very even across the screen surface.

3. Extensive video setting options.

4. Provides a good selection of internet streaming options.

5. Good motion response.

6. Complete user manual accessible via the onscreen menu.

7. Non-glare Matte Screen.

8. Input and output connections well-placed, spaced and labeled.

8. The inclusion of both analog and digital audio outputs.

10. The remote control provides quick access buttons for Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, and iHeart Radio internet streaming services.

What I Didn't Like About The Vizio E55-C2

1. Slow start-up time - picture comes on before the sound.

2. Shared component/composite video input. This means you cannot have component and composite video sources connected to the E55-C2 at the same time.

3. No VGA/PC Monitor input

4. No onboard power on/off or setting controls.

5. The remote control has very small buttons, is not backlit, and does not include a QWERTY keyboard for easier password and other possible text entry requirements.

6. The external audio system suggested for best listening experience.

Final Take

In summing up my experience with the Vizio E55-C2, it was easy to unpack and set-up and the physical styling was very appealing. Although I thought that the provided remote control could have had a better layout and larger buttons, navigating the TV's menu system was not difficult.

Also, the E55-C2 delivered very quality images from high-def sources, and, for the most part, did a good job of video processing and upscaling standard definition source material (with the exception of analog cable and some non-commercial streaming content sources).

In addition, being equipped with both ethernet and WiFi connection options, reaching out to the internet to access streaming and locally store media content was easy.

Taking all into consideration, the Vizio E55-C2 is definitely a great TV for those that are not quite ready to make the leap to 4K just yet, and with a suggested price of between $629 and $599 - this TV is a real bargain.

For a closer look at, and additional perspective on, the Vizio E55-C2, also check out two supplements to this review: Product Photos and Video Performance Test Results.

Official Product Page

Also Available: Vizio E55-C1 - Same features and performance capabilities as the E55-C2, but the built-in audio system provides 10wpc channel, instead of 15wpc - Official Product Page

For a look at Vizio's entire E-Series TV Line-up for 2015/16, read my previous article: Vizio E-Series LED/LCD TV Line for 2015 Revealed

Additional Components Used to Conduct Review

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-103.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H

DVDO EDGE Video Scaler used for additional video upscaling comparison.

Software Used Used to Conduct Review

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, John Wick, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.