This week Vizio re-re-introduced its Cinemawide 21:9 HDTV, first announced in early 2011. It’s now available for sale, but not from any Vizio dealer (as in Wal-Mart, Target, BJs, Costco, Sam’s Club and Amazon). If you really want one, you can order it from Vizio direct (sight unseen) for $2,499 with free shipping, “while supplies last.”
The questions posed: why don’t dealers carry it, and what if you don’t like it after you buy it directly from Vizio?
We called Vizio customer service. The details appear after the jump.
Vizio first announced the 21:9 Cinemawide at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show. They showed it again later in the year at an industry trade event. At the 2012 CES Vizio announced three 21:9 HDTVs, a 50-inch and 71-inch to be sold along with a 58-inch model would ship in 2012. Each has a non-standard resolution of 2560 x 1080 (Full HD is 1920 x 1080). This means you have expand the active area on a widescreen movie to display it with minimal black bars (widescreen movies tend to be 2.35 or 2.39:1, this Vizio is 2.37:1), to fill the screen’s 2560 x 1080 panel as a 2.35 movie only has 810 active vertical pixels and 1920 horizontal pixels.
One major feature: You may have an Internet app appear to the side of 1,920×1,080 widescreen content. Doing this, the total image (with the black bars on widescreen content) for the 58-inch screen shrinks to the equivalent of about a 46-inch HDTV).
Fast forward to this week. Vizio issues press release (below) announcing the 58-inch Cinemawide XVT3D58CM is available exclusively from Vizio direct for $2,499 with free shipping. By comparison, the most expensive 46-inch 16:9 HDTV we could find is the top of the line Samsung UN46ES8000 cost s $1998, the 55-inch UN55ES8000 sells for $2498.
We asked the Vizio customer service representative if there is any store that carries it and was told no. The rep added the widescreen set is a limited run of only around 1,000 units and once they’re gone there will be no more. Furthermore, the 50 and 71-inch versions announced at CES are not going to be produced.
How does it look? No telling, as these are the first and last production models available. The Vizio return policy for non-defective units is that purchaser pays return freight and a ten-percent restocking charge (in this case, $250). The rep generously offered to waive the restocking and return freight charge if I wanted to place an order, saying they are going fast and they will not be available once the thousand are sold.
It appears none of the Vizio dealers wanted to carry this oddball television, and after Vizio committed to one thousand units to get the production parts from its assembler, they are forced to sell them factory direct. For more on why a 21:9 flat panel TV is not a good idea read our article here.
Below is the Vizio press announcement and list of features for the XVT3D580CM.
“We are happy to announce that the highly anticipated VIZIO XVT Series Cinemawide 3D HDTV is now available on VIZIO.com for $2,799. Purchase now for a limited-time launch price of only $2,499 and free shipping while supplies last.
The VIZIO Cinemawide is the first 21:9 ultra-widescreen TV available in the United States. It allows movie lovers to experience the latest Hollywood blockbusters without the distraction of black bars at the top and bottom of the picture.
The XVT Series Cinemawide TV features VIZIO’s Theater 3D™ technology, providing crystal clear, flicker-free 3D that delivers an immersive, cinema-quality experience. VIZIO Internet Apps® also stands as a key component, providing endless entertainment options by bringing thousands of streaming movies, TV shows, and songs directly from the Internet, to the consumer’s fingertips.
Because the 21:9 Cinemawide screen is wider than the standard 16:9 screen found on most HDTVs, it perfectly fits the 2.35:1 aspect ratio used for most major Hollywood movies. Movie lovers no longer have to see black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, giving them more room to enjoy the crisp, clear picture. The unique 2560 x 1080p screen and Edge Lit Razor LED technology deliver breathtaking HD and 3D picture quality. Smart Dimming assures a brilliant picture with outstanding contrast and detail and with the integration of SRS StudioSound HD™, this TV’s rich surround sound is just as immersive as the picture.
Our Theater 3D® technology delivers the state-of-the-art 3D technology used at your local multiplex into your home to produce a vibrant, immersive 3D experience, Four pairs of lightweight, inexpensive and comfortable battery-free glasses are included with each TV.
The ultra-wide 21:9 screen makes the XVT Series Cinemawide the ultimate smart TV. Users can enjoy full-screen, full-resolution 16:9 HDTV on one side of the screen while accessing VIZIO Internet Apps in a column on the other side of the screen. Built-in Wi-Fi makes the XVT Series easy to connect to the Internet and a premium Bluetooth® universal remote control with full keyboard lets users text, chat and browse apps with ease.”
58” Class (57.64” Diag.) CinemaWide 21:9 3D LED LCD HDTV with VIZIO Internet Apps –
MODEL NUMBER: XVT3D580CM Model Features:
- CinemaWide format 21:9
- Theater 3D™ – Crystal clear flicker-free 3D
- VIZIO Internet Apps® with built-in WiFi
- Edge lit Razor LED™ backlighting
- Includes 4 pairs of VIZIO 3D glasses
- 120 Hz refresh rate
- 1,000,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio
- 1080p Full HD resolution
- SRS StudioSound HDTM audio
- 5 HDMI ports
- Ambient Light Sensing technology
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