Vizio M-Series Review 2016/2017 Models

The Vizio 2016/2017 M-series is a value oriented HDR 4K LED TV that we were eagerly awaiting. The M-series has 64 active zones of full array backlighting compared to the 32 last year 64 on the P-series 4K Vizio. Vizio’s new spacial scaling engine is much improved for this year. Pricing for this new Vizio offering looks to be a game-changer for the year. It’s a top mid-value model, maybe the best.

Strengths

  • Color and Light Flowthrough from 64 Zone local dimming
  • Picture Definition, Clarity, and Uniformity created by local dimming
  • Gaming Input Lag
  • Great Apps Selection
  • V6 processor with Quod Core GPU do a great job with Amazon and Netflix Apps (once you get it working)
  • Side Angle Viewing Contrast and Color Loss not severe Price
  • 5 HDMI inputs (but only 1 USB)
  • 120Hz panel (except for 50” and 55”)
  • Free 720p tablet remote can be used for other functions

Weaknesses

  • Visual artifacts and image edge enhancement
  • Tablet remote not as fast and convenient as on-screen Smart TV guides and adds time to small TV functions
  • Sometimes even with Reduce Judder turned off the TV still over-clarified images
  • No 3D compatibility
  • Amazon Video cannot be cast to screen
  • Judder/Motion Lag when turning off Reduce Judder but a necessary tradeoff to a more natural picture
  • No tuner built in (for those that pull signal from an antenna)

Neutral

  • Screen Glare not too intrusive from semi-matte screen

Picture Quality Rating: 92/100

“While the zonal manipulation is a clear benefit, I believe the full array backlighting itself is the greatest qualitative difference maker here”

There is a lot to discuss in picture quality. There are not a plethora of options out there for 4K content and this makes testing and evaluation more difficult. This means that upscaling to the native 4K resolution of the panel takes on significant importance in our evaluation since most everything you will currently watch (1080p HD, 720p HD, 480p/i standard def) will have to be upscaled. For this reason, we choose to rate the picture quality rating and notes based mostly on those lower resolution signals rather than 4K. 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.

Upscaling and Processing

The spacial scaling engine in the M-series is responsible for upscaling from HD to UHD. Owing to the lack of the ability to stream the limited 4K content available, this is the most important qualitative aspect of 4K UHD TVs. The new M-series Vizio does an exceptional job of upconverting 1080p content. Edges are clear and detail greatly enhanced by the resolution as it should be. Why else buy a 4K TV right? Vizio gets a passing grade but nothing more as the TVs Sharpness is too much even after picture setting adjustment. The Pure Pixel Processing Engine is another welcome addition that reduces noise and improves picture quality from a compressed source.

Picture Setting Modes

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. The 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. The Ruduce Judder and Reduce Motion Blur settings set half way 50%. This combination of the TVs 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.

Recommended (Calibrated) Picture Settings

Calibrated Picture Mode (Adust Backlight Up or Down depending on room light conditions)

PICTURE MENU

MORE PICTURE MENU

Backlight: 90Black Detail: Low
Brightness: 50Active LED Zones: Off
Contrast: 45Reduce Judder: 0
Color: 58Reduce Motion Blur: 50
Tint: 0Clear Action: Off
Sharpness: 30Game Low Latency: Off
Film Mode: On
Color Space: Auto
Gamma: 2.1
Color Temp: Normal

 

Reduce Judder Setting

This setting comes set to 50% in all preset picture modes. It overclarifies the background introducing what some call the soap opera 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.

 

Black Levels and Contrast Benefit from Full Array Backlighting

One of the most notable features of the M-series is the 64 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.

360 Clear Action Rate – 120 Effective Refresh-Motion Lag

A 360 Clear Action Rate (720 CAR on 60” and larger) 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, but you get used to it quickly.

Side Angle Viewing Quality

“From 15 degrees off center, you’re looking at around a 10% reduction in contrast”

As usual with all LED backlit LCD TVs, the M-D series Vizio is no exception in that contrast and color saturation are reduced at side angles. However, the full array backlighting with 64 zones combined with a quality panel that doesnt produce much glare do a good job to control the reduction in contrast. My best estimates are a 20% reduction in contrast from around 30 degrees off center. From 15 degrees off center, you’re looking at around a 10% reduction in contrast on the VA (vertical alignment) panel models (all except the 60”).

Light Flowthrough Extreme

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. When watching a couple of darker scenes from Star Wars we felt backlight uniformity was much better than the P-series. How it will age is another story. Often LED backlit LCD develop some clouding and unevenness in dark scenes over time.

We mentioned before that there are 64 separate backlight zones in the M-series Vizio. As mentioned above we recommend leaving the local dimming setting on for enhanced contrast and black levels. Performance here was very good as this can be such a detractor with LED backlighting. This category of performance often changes over time but at the time we tested the M-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.

 

Features Rating: 85/100

Internet Features, Wireless, and Vizio SmartCast

All Smartcast products from Vizio have Google cast built in to them. You really get a great selection of Apps, the most of any device except for Roku. This is a huge improvement over past Vizio models. The one big exception is the lack of Amazon Video which is a valuable App to miss due to being one of the only ones carrying 4K and HDR content.

The Menu settings are discrete for Internet connections and comes preset to Calibrated Mode. Dont forget to adjust the picture settings again and turn off the Reduce Judder setting. Picture quality from reality shows like Survivor look incredibly defined and colorful from the Amazon App. Sound quality is much more pinched and muffled than with cable, BluRay or other sources.

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. Dont forget to adjust the picture settings again and turn off the Reduce Judder setting. Picture quality from reality shows like Survivor look incredibly defined and colorful from the Amazon App. Sound quality is much more pinched and muffled than with cable, BluRay or other sources.

Unfortunately, Vizio is sticking with Yahoo! To provide the Internet Apps Plus programming. The Apps for Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, YouTube work well and are probably what you will actually use.

Remote Control

The controller for the M-series is the slick 6” full fledged Android Tablet Smartcast remote. It’s tap and swipe functionality is comfortable for our smart phone user society. I understand why Vizio went here with it. It comes with a wireless charging dock, 8 Gb of storage and a quad core processor. Once you find what you want to watch on the SmartCast App you just tap it to take it to the big screen. Overall, it’s a cool addition but it doesnt compare to the value of the picture quality as a reason to buy. And it creates a bit of work for those that just want to plug and play.

A separate little standard remote is included as well.

Vizio SmartCast 65 inch w/ stand

5 HDMI Ports

It’s always nice to have more HDMI ports. 4 of these are normal 1080p, 4K (30Hz) ports, while the 5th is 2.0 for 4K (60Hz) or a PC at 1080p(60hz).

Appearance And Design – Not Too Flashy

Stand Design – Stand Design – I’m not too crazy about the crome wire stand feet. They dont really add anything to the design, they may even take away. The slate brushed charcoal bezel is nice, understated and uncomplicated. I like it.

Vizio SmartCast 65 inch w/ stand

TV Design – The side profile of half an inch is designed to look slimmer than the 2.5” depth of TV. The slate brushed charcoal bezel is nice, understated and uncomplicated. I like it.

Audio Quality

I was impressed by the balance and quality of the speakers on the M-series. 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.

Value Rating: 94/100

At $999 the M55-C2 is set up to be a winner. There are certainly small weaknesses, but they are overwhelmed by lots of positives – primarily the picture quality, upscaling, sound, Internet Apps processing engine, aesthetic package, 5 HDMI inputs, and color rendition. It’s difficult to beat this combination for value.

Overall Rating: 90/100

M50-D1 – $699. 60Hz native panel, 32 Zone local dimming

M55-D0 – $749. Has a 60Hz native panel, 32 Zone local dimming

M60-D1 – $999. 120Hz panel. The 60” is the only size that has an IPS (in-plane-switching) panel which improves side angle viewing but hurts black levels and contrast from front and center. 64 Zone local dimming.

M65-D0 – $1149. 120Hz panel. 64 Zone local dimming.

M70-D3 – $1699. 120Hz panel. 64 Zone local dimming.

M80-D3 – $3799. 120Hz panel. 64 Zone local dimming.

 

All of the Vizio M-series size models are an excellent value. The 80” size is novel so not as great a deal. The 60” and 65” really stand out from a per square inch value perspective. The local dimming, and overall picture quality for the money are the standout features in my mind. Sound quality is also pretty good even without a sound bar. The Apps selection is great also.

Quick Specs

  • 3840×2160 Resolution
  • 64 Active Dimming Zones (32 with 55” and 50”)
  • V6 Six-core processor: Quad-core GPU + Dual-core CPU
  • Spatial Scaling Engine for Upscaling
  • No Tuner included in TV
  • 15W x 2 Speakers
  • Inputs: 5 HDMI, 1 USB, 1 Component/Composite Combination
  • V8 Octa-Core Processor
  • 6” Android Tablet Remote – XR6M10

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