Although the price is much less, the D-series 4K TVs from Vizio for 2016/2017 look suspiciously similar to the M-series from 2015 in specifications, design, and functionality. It has the same processing engine, and very similar color and contrast performance. The M-series did have 32 zones of local dimming to the D-series 16. But aside from that and some small aesthetic and remote control differences. It’s a very similar TV. One aspect of a TV that we reviewers struggle with is front panel differences. The LCD front panel can have a major impact on viewing quality and be quite different from year to year – or it can be the same or nearly the same. Since we don’t have last year’s TV to compare it to, and there are no specifications for the panel, we have to guess by viewing and looking at notes from previous year’s TV. From my testing, I see many of the same characteristics and measurements as the M-series. That may make the D-series more appealing to you since it’s a couple hundred dollars less expensive.
As with previous years we keep producing and buying 4K TVs but there is little content out there to enjoy it with. Plus, we increasingly stream our video. This makes upscaling all the more important. Upconversion takes on significant importance in our evaluation since most everything you will currently watch (1080p HD, 720p HD, 480p/i standard def). This places prime importance on the processing ad upscaling engine. For this reason, we choose to rate the picture quality rating and notes based mostly on those lower resolution signals rather than 4K, like streaming 720p. The D-series Vizio uses the same processing engine as last year’s M-series and that’s a positive. The picture quality understandably varies based on the source. BluRay, Broadcast and streaming video from the Amazon Instant App are very defined and excellent, taking advantage of some of that 4K resolution. Netflix content was somewhat softer, but still accurate and colorful.
One of the most notable features of the D-series is the 16 Zones of LED full array backlighting. This system beats edge lit backlighting in a couple of important ways, namely better contrast and black levels in certain situations and better side angle viewing quality. Toggling the Active LED Zones setting back and forth revealed the better contrast in areas of the picture where the feature increased contrast. While the zonal manipulation is a clear benefit, I believe the full array backlighting is the greatest qualitative difference maker here. Black levels appeared very saturated, and once calibrated colors looked great. This TVs got lots of pop for the price in the picture category.
Vivid – The TV comes preset out of the box set to the Vivid setting. The setting has a significant blue push as the Color Temperature is set to Cool. The Auto Brightness control is disabled, Backlight 90, Contrast is 50% and Sharpness 60. They are normally more on the Vivid setting.
Game Mode – Gamma 2.2 with Game Low Latency setting On. Clear Action setting On. Active LED Zones Off. This is a great gaming TV. The Reduce Judder and Reduce Motion Blur settings set half way 50%. This combination of the TV’s features improves response rate for gaming. The Game Low Latency setting that helps reduce input lag no matter what Picture Mode you are using. The TV has incredibly low input lag in the Game Mode and we do not hesitate to recommend this model as a gaming TV.
Computer – Cuts Sharpness to 0. Gamma 2.1. Reduce Judder and Motion Blur 50%. All other advanced settings Off.
Standard – Has even more blue push than the Vivid setting also set to Color Temp Cool, backlight 58, contrast 50, color 67, sharpness 40.
Calibrated – Close to D65K out of the box. Nice warm, natural colors. Backlight 85, contrast, 50, color 50, Sharpness 30. Has an 11 point white balance adjustment and uses the Normal Color temperature. Flesh tones look warm and greens are tamped down to natural saturation. The Clear Action setting is set to Off.
Calibrated Dark – For dark room settings, dials in better black levels even better. Same exact settings as Calibrated Mode except with the Backlight dialed down to 26%.
There are only two Color Temp choices aside from Computer – Cool and Normal. Think of the Normal Color Temp as what would normally be called Warm 1. The Calibrated Mode does a good job of getting near D6500K without much dithering with the 11 point white balance.
Calibrated Picture Mode (Adjust Backlight Up or Down depending on room light conditions)
|Picture Menu||More Picture Menu|
|Backlight: 90||Black Detail: Low|
|Brightness: 50||Active LED Zones: Off|
|Contrast: 48||Reduce Judder: 0|
|Color: 58||Reduce Motion Blur: 50|
|Tint: 0||Clear Action: Off|
|Sharpness: 30||Game Low Latency: Off|
|Film Mode: On|
|Color Space: Auto|
|Color Temp: Normal|
This setting comes set to 50% in all preset picture modes. It over-clarifies the background of the picture introducing what we call the “Telenovela”effect – a fake unnaturally enhanced picture. I recommend turning this setting Off for all but sports programming and Game mode. You will see a bit of judder, but that is natural. If you want to try older DVDs with it, try those as well as it can bring new life to them.
A 240 Clear Action Rate is Vizio’s backlight scanning feature that amps up the native resolution of the screen for better fast action performance. There are times when this is helpful like with sports, but it should normally be kept Off. Turning the Reduce Judder setting Off will enable some noticeable judder from the 60Hz native, 120Hz effective refresh rate screen. You get used to it quickly. On the larger screen sizes of 60” and larger, the Effective Refresh Rate is increased to much welcome 240Hz.
As usual with all LED backlit LCD TVs, the D-series Vizio is no exception in that contrast and color saturation are reduced at side angles. My best estimates are a 20% reduction in contrast from around 25 degrees off center. From 15 degrees off center, you’re looking at around a 10% reduction in contrast.
One of the greatest traits of local array LED backlit TVs is the beautiful lighting effects from on-screen windows and on-screen in room lights. It can add a neat visual effect and make programming more 3-dimensional. But it takes a little getting used to for purists as it can be extreme enough to cause the picture to look less realistic, basically diminishing natural background blur. The good news about this is that it did not often bleed over into shadows. Often LED backlit LCD develop some clouding and unevenness in dark scenes over time so this is something to watch out for. But from front and center you will enjoy the benefits of the strong LED backlighting.
The performance in this area was better than most LED backlit TVs, which isn’t saying a lot, but since the only other alternative is expensive OLED TVs, it’s worth noting. We mentioned before that there are 16 separate backlight zones in the D-series Vizio. As mentioned above we recommend leaving the local dimming setting on for enhanced contrast and black levels. Performance here was decent as this can be such a detractor with LED backlighting. This category of performance often changes over the time you actually use the TV. It can get worse. At the time we tested the D-series, we noted a bit more light coming from the center of the screen which makes sense since it has full array LED backlighting rather than edge lit. With a full screen uniform color test, we could note some backlight issues like darker edges.
802.11ac dual-band MIMO wireless is built right into the TV for the fastest connection available. See above for our comments on picture and sound quality from streaming. The Vizio D series pushes the updated Smart TV platform, Vizio Internet Apps Plus, the same as the M-series from last year.
One of the best upgrades is the processing power behind it all. The V6 processor provides a quad-core GPU and a dual-core CPU. This combination indeed did a fine job of handling all the video and computing that you’ll need on a smart TV. The picture quality is definitely softer when streaming movies even HD streaming.The Menu settings are discrete for Internet connections and comes preset to Calibrated Mode. Don’t forget to adjust the picture settings again and turn off the Reduce Judder setting. One of the highlights from last year was the streaming quality of TV shows from Amazon. Unfortunately the new Vizio Internet Apps Plus does not include Amazon as an option. Sound quality is much more pinched and muffled than with cable, BluRay or other sources.
There is also Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio – an App with your favorite radio stations. Most of the Yahoo! Apps are of limited use. There is a lack of sports Apps, and the ones that are there aren’t worth much. The YouTube App is a highlight.
There is no Internet browser included with the Vizio Internet Apps Plus (Yahoo!) suite and no way to connect to the open Internet. Odd, but that’s the case. Why have a QWERTY keyboard if there is nothing to use it with? You are confined to the Yahoo! Apps store with the M-C series Vizio.
4K streaming is possible with the HEVC H.265 codec and the latest HDMI standard for full resolution 60fps playback. HDCP 2.2 also allows for playback of copyright protected 4K content.
The buttons on the standard remote are too small in many cases and operation is not smooth. There are dedicated Smart TV buttons for Netflix, Xumo, and iHeart Radio allowing quick access to those Apps. The front side is not backlit.
There are 5 HDMI ports on the 65” D series. But check below in the value section for the others.
Stand Design – The sturdy metal stand feet are black and they sit wide on the TV as you can see from the above picture. Whichever size version you get, take into account the width of the stand feet if you plan to set it on a table. The stand feet are located approximately 3.5” from the outer edges of the TV, so make sure your table is wide enough to accommodate.
TV Design – The D-series isn’t as cool looking as last year’s M-series brushed silver. It’s an all black affair, which isn’t bad, just plain. The depth is increased some to 3 inches. It’s a typical Vizio design, nice enough looking for a low priced TV with no extra zing.
I was impressed by the balance and quality of the speakers. Volume from the 2 X 15W speakers was very loud even at only 40% volume level. When viewing the BluRay remake of Return of the Jedi the TV did a very acceptable job with voice clarity and quality. There is plenty of volume even for a very large room. The Surround Sound feature is set to On which is my preference with fuller sound. Sound quality was more pinched without it. This is one of the best speaker/audio sets in the market.
Some of the D-series models have subtle differences as noted below. The 70” model at only 1080p resolution is a not-so-minor difference.
Vizio D65u-D2 – $1288 The “u” in the model number stands for UHD. This model is setup to be a winner at this price.
Vizio D70-D3 – $1379 The 70” version has only 3 HDMI inputs and is only 1080p resolution, is not 4K. It also has only 12 zones of backlighting. It’s a great deal for a 70” TV though. 10W X 2 speakers.
D58u-D3 – $799 The oddly sized 58” is a great deal. It has 10 active LED zones. 5 HDMI ports.
D55u-D1 – $670 Also a great price for what you get, has 12 active LED zones. 3 HDMI ports. 15W X 2 speakers.
D50u-D1 – $598 Same as 55u-D1.