- Solid black levels
- High brightness
- Supports 4K streaming apps
- Huge bang for your buck factor
- Out-of-box color is way off
- Much picture processing must be disabled
- Unimpressive upscaling of non-HD sources
A few weeks ago completely derailed this review. The problem: Its just-announced M-Series line makes the subject of this review, the P-Series, look unnecessary.
Once Vizio’s upper-tier 1080p HD TV line, the M-Series has been redefined and now offers 4K resolution in a sleek and slim package, armed with a 32-zone full array, local dimming backlight system. The new series is priced more aggressively, too, with the 65-inch M-Series set going for $1,700 (MSRP) while the 65-inch P-Series begs $2,000 (MSRP).
So what do you get out of the (slightly) older P-Series for an extra $300? In short: more local dimming zones and, therefore, better black levels and screen uniformity. Whether that extra three Benjamins is worth it to you is going to depend entirely on what kind of TV watcher you are. If you’re a video geek on a budget, then the Vizio P-Series is the way to go right now.
But if you consider yourself a more casual viewer, then we suggest you put that chunk of change you’ve saved up on the new M-Series.
Out of the box
It’s a fine-looking 4K UHD TV with really solid black levels, stunning brightness, and easy access.
There is a deliberately un-flashy vibe to the P-Series’ aesthetic that we appreciate. There’s no chrome strip around the bezel, the TV’s stand isn’t fashioned to resemble an ocean wave … the TV is simple, unassuming, and handsome in an unpretentious way. When you stare it down, all you see is black, a dark bezel practically blending into the screen, Vizio’s moniker tucked modestly into the lower right corner.
In the box with the 68-lb. television are Vizio’s dual-sided remote control (with QWERTY keyboard on the back side) and the TV’s stand and hardware – not much really. In fact, it’s what isn’t in the box that we find interesting: 3D glasses. That’s because this TV isn’t 3D capable, a fact which we applaud. Why force people to pay for tech they’ll never use?
Looking at the list of features, it would appear Vizio’s P-Series is all about horsepower.
The 65-inch model we tested has 64 zones of local dimming, a “V6” processor comprising a quad-core GPU with a dual-core CPU, an exhaustive list of proprietary processing including a 4K upscaling engine and pixel processing intended to render a sharper, brighter picture without artifacts, and the ability to deliver 1.07 billion colors. The P-Series also offers 802.11 ac dual-band Wi-Fi compatibility for blazingly-fast wireless media streaming when used with a compatible router.
On board you will find a total of five HDMI ports, three with HDCP 2.2 support, but only one (HDMI 5) capable of UHD video at 60 frames per second. You’ll get just one USB port, though. Audio support includes one set of analog audio output jacks and one digital audio output (optical).
Vizio’s P-Series does support the HEVC H.265 codec for 4K UHD streaming video, and comes loaded with 4K-compatible streaming apps for Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, and VUDU.
Vizio’s 2-sided remote control, which features a backlit QWERTY keyboard.
Making access to those apps a little easier is Vizio’s 2-sided remote control, which features a backlit QWERTY keyboard on the back for faster account and password entry. The keyboard also comes in handy when using the TV’s built-in Web browser.
Speaking of apps, Vizio’s smart TV interface is looking better with each year. It still can’t touch Roku’s ease of use and intuitive search, but Vizio has done much to improve the look and feel of its interface, and we appreciate the effort.
As I was evaluating Vizio’s P-Series, I found myself feeling conflicted. For the most part, I enjoyed watching the TV, but when I turned a critical eye toward it, I kept noticing little shortcomings. It’s got pretty solid black levels, but it doesn’t quite match up with the Sony X900B. The color is decent with some adjustments, but it’s no match for the Panasonic AX900. And then I realized: I’m comparing this TV with the very best models I reviewed over the past year. That I placed it in that kind of company really says something, but the fact that it costs a fraction of the price of those other models says even more.
In the end, the Vizio P-Series gets high marks for delivering picture quality that deserves to be compared to the best of the best without the lofty price. But does that make it a no-brainer purchase? I’m afraid not.
Technology is constantly and quickly evolving, so there’s no sense in holding off on a purchase because the next best thing is coming around the corner – the next best thing will always be coming around the corner. But with Vizio’s own M-Series poised to offer an even more competitive value proposition, anyone looking at the P-Series should be wondering if the extra zones of local dimming the P-Series offers amount to an increase in performance worthy of the extra cash. For me, the extra bucks are worth the better black levels and stealthier backlight dimming. But will you notice the difference? I’m not convinced you will.
With all of that stated, I think the P-Series is a tremendous value. It’s a fine-looking 4K UHD TV with really solid black levels, stunning brightness, and easy access to a growing library of 4K streaming content.
On the downside, this Vizio’s color needs some serious work out of the box. Skin tones in particular are off enough that people look a little orange, and reds in general are flat out overcooked. I also noticed that some grey colors had a tinge of blue in them. Fortunately, though, the TV offers enough controls that an experienced calibrator with the right equipment should be able to get it whipped into good shape. One can also look up recommended settings at forums online and key them in themselves.
The P-Series does have a quirk you should know about: HDMI 5 is what I want to call a “4K only” input. Aside from the fact that it is the only input that allows a 60Hz UHD signal, it doesn’t apply any video processing to lower-resolution signals. So, if you were to connect a cable box to this input and watch ESPN (or any other Disney-owned network, for that matter) the 720P signal fed to the TV will not get upconverted as it would if it were fed into any of the other HDMI inputs. Instead, save this input for a high-quality Blu-ray player with an excellent 4K upconverter built in (I like Oppo’s BDP-103).
The Vizio P-Series is not a videophile’s TV, but then again, it wasn’t developed to be. If Vizio’s goal was to deliver as much 4K UHD goodness as it could while keeping the price manageable, then it has achieved that goal and done so without making any offensive compromises in the process. With an elaborate backlight system, the P-Series manages to deliver more than just a taste of what the steeply-priced competition serves up, and that makes it a highly compelling choice. Just make sure you check out Vizio’s new M-Series before you make any final decisions. You might just wind up saving a few bucks.