Now four series of new 2019 Vizios go on sale starting today, and all aim for the value bullseye. The budget models all have 4K HDR , Dolby Vision , Google Chromecast built-in and Apple AirPlay 2 , but Vizio’s best chance to earn more awards comes from its midrange models. The company bumped up the brightness and local dimming zones while using quantum dots , and the word “Quantum” itself, with shocking profligacy.
Here’s the rundown, starting at the top.
Quite a lot of Quantums
Unlike Samsung, Sony and LG , Vizio won’t sell any any TVs with 8K resolution or any of those fancy HDMI 2.1 features like auto game mode and variable refresh rate. But it makes up for the lack with dimming, nits and dots. The three series above have different levels of dimming zones — more zones generally means better image quality, with more precise control of illumination — as well as brightness. All include quantum dots for improved HDR color, which was a big weakness of earlier Vizios.
P-Series Quantum X: The successor of that sweet 2018 P-Series Quantum , the X is even brighter and comes in both 65- and 75-inch sizes (models PX65-G1 and PX75-G1) — and un-Vizio-like prices. The 85-inch behemoth Vizio showed at CES in January will not ship this year. The PQX has Vizio’s best specs yet, with searing light output and more local dimming zones than its predecessor. On paper it looks like another worthy challenger to the Samsung Q9 and the other best LED LCDs of the world, if not OLED itself.
P-Series Quantum: Drop the “X” for a lower price, a dimmer (but still bright) image and fewer local dimming zones. This middle child lines up with the non-Quantum P-Series of 2018 on paper and looks like a similarly solid value. It improves on the M-Series Quantum with a 120Hz refresh rate and up to 240 dimming zones, and comes in 65- and 75-inch sizes (models P659-G1 and P759-G1).
M-Series Quantum: Representing the biggest improvement over 2018’s version , they range from 43 to 65 inches and have up to 90 zones of local dimming and 600 nits peak light output. As you can see from the chart above there’s a lot of variation, with two different levels M’s at the 55- and 65-inch size. The M658-G1 and M558-G1, available at most retailers, are brighter and have more dimming zones than the M657-G0 and M557-G0, which are available primarily at Wal-Mart. All have a native 60Hz refresh rate.
Apple AirPlay and HomeKit join Google Cast
Compared to Roku TV, Android TV and the proprietary systems used by Samsung and LG, Vizio’s Smart Cast smart TV system has been disappointing. It’s slower, has fewer apps and packs the home screen with shows and movies you probably don’t care about. Vizio promises to improve responsiveness with a software update coming later this year — we’ll see.
In the coming weeks another update will add Apple’s AirPlay 2 and HomeKit compatibility. AirPlay 2 basically works just like the same feature on an Apple TV box , letting the TV function as a display for TV shows, movies, music, photos and web pages with an iPhone , iPad or Mac as the controller.
In Vizio’s demos it worked well. After activating AirPlay on a phone, a show began playing in (Dolby Vision HDR if available) on the Vizio TV across the room. You can ask Siri on the phone to play titles on the TV or music via the TV’s speakers, even to multiple TVs around the home. Photos from an iPhone appear the TV screen as well, as can the phone or Mac screen itself in mirroring mode.
The basic idea is similar to what Vizio TVs have done for the last couple years with Google’s Cast function, but it should make a nice addition for Apple fans used to AirPlay. It’s not the full Apple TV app found on Samsung’s 2019 Apple integration, however — there’s no on-screen functionality and all the control happens via your iOS device or Mac. Sony and LG will also get AirPlay 2 and HomeKit functionality later this year.
Goodbye E, hello V
Last year one of our favorite budget TVs was the E-Series, which outperformed the equivalent TCL Roku TVs thanks to local dimming. For 2019 the E-Series is extinct, replaced by the V-Series. It’s available in two different levels, only one of which has local dimming. Vizio says some sizes will get IPS screens (which perform worse than VA-style screens in our tests) but didn’t specify which ones.
My quick takeaway: With prices so close ($30 extra at most) in sizes where there’s crossover, there’s no reason not to get the V’s with dimming zones. I expect the non-dimming Vs to be the ones leading the Black Friday 2019 discount charge, however.
We look forward to reviewing Vizio’s new TVs soon.
A version of this article first appeared in January.
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