Review: Vizio CinemaWide TV set is made for watching movies

Review: Vizio CinemaWide TV set is made for watching movies
When playing the movie “The Fighter” on the Vizio CinemaWide, the image fills the TV set’s entire screen.
(Salvador Rodriguez / Los Angeles Times)

The Vizio CinemaWide is a big-screen TV set with a simple mission: to remove the annoying black bars that come with watching, as its name suggests, widescreen cinema movies.

The CinemaWide is a 58-inch HD 3-D TV that stands out because its ultra-wide screen was specifically designed for watching movies, theater style.

It removes black bars by displaying content at a stretched 21:9 ratio, unlike most HD TV sets, which have a 16:9 ratio. The CinemaWide also has higher resolution, -- 2,560 by 1,080 -- than the typical HD TV.

The screen isn’t the only big thing about this TV. The set weighs 66 pounds and is more than 4 1/2 feet wide. It also costs a hefty $1,999.99.


But if you’re a big-time movie buff, it might be worth that price. I watched a couple of movies on the CinemaWide, and they were some of the most cinema-like experiences I’ve had with a television set.

Whether it was a Blu-Ray movie, something streaming from Netflix, or a 3-D film from Vudu, the CinemaWide performed admirably, and in each instance, the content filled up the entire screen or nearly did so without cutting anything off.

There isn’t any content made specifically for this TV set, but the CinemaWide does a good job at automatically stretching content without making it look bad.

When watching a widescreen movie, the CinemaWide stretches the screen and eliminates the black bars. When I watched “The Fighter,” the image filed up the entire screen, and while watching “Man on Fire,” only a little bit of the black bars were left.


With regular TV programming, the CinemaWide resizes the content so that it still fills up the screen without making it look weird or abnormally stretched. And if you don’t want to stretch content, you can make use of the screen’s extra real estate by turning on some of its smart TV apps.

I watched the first presidential debate with my Facebook feed showing on the left, letting me see the debate in HD while also seeing my friends’ reactions. Similarly, I watched NFL games with my Yahoo fantasy football stats showing on one side of the screen. That was helpful, but I turned it off because I really enjoyed watching football at 21:9.

About the only type of content that I didn’t like on the CinemaWide were video games.

I tried playing “FIFA 13" using the Vizio TV, but it felt like the stretched out image threw off the timing between my control and what was displayed. I ended up playing the game at its normal ratio, which left black bars on the left and right of the image.

The CinemaWide also includes two features most top-of-the-line TVs have nowadays: 3-D capability and Internet-connected apps.

The 3-D looked very good from many different angles, and the CinemaWide comes with four light, comfortable glasses that don’t require charging or batteries. But unlike some TV sets, the CinemaWide cannot convert 2-D content into 3-D, so you’ll need 3-D-specific content to use it.

As for its apps, the CinemaWide seemed to have everything that I could want, and it all worked. There were Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Pandora, Hulu+ and several others. As expected, these apps didn’t work better or faster than what I have on my phone, but they got the job done.

Aesthetically, the CinemaWide is something to be proud of. It has a shiny silver-colored frame and base, and it’s fairly slim for a TV of its size -- less than 2 inches in depth.


To install this thing, it’s best if you get help from a friend, although I somehow managed to get the job done alone.

In case you care about the control: I was not impressed. It was bulky and unrefined. It has a QWERTY keyboard that slides out of the bottom, but it wasn’t very comfortable for me to type on.

The CinemaWide isn’t a perfect television set , but if you love movies and hate black bars, it might be the right TV for your living room.


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