An overview of the Vizio P-Series 2016 HDR 4K TVs and the SmartCast Smart App

by on March 29, 2016

Stephan Jukic – March 29, 2016

Vizio has recently unveiled its new 2016 HDR editions of the previously popular and quite highly rated P-Series 4K TVs, which were groundbreaking upon their initial late-2014 release for offering full-array LED backlighting at impressively affordable prices. The new models take things quite a bit further have offer up plenty of new technologies. One of these is what Vizio calls SmartCast.

The company launched SmartCast in an announcement on the 22nd of March and with this new development, kickstarted the beginning of what could arguably be called a new era in smart TV home entertainment technology.

Instead of the currently popular TV-centered smart TV OS platforms of most 4K UHD television models, SmartCast works principally as a portable app and is thus in a way spread out across a whole range of display devices, sound bars and even speakers among other devices.

SmartCast is being debuted in the new HDR 4K P-Series TVs along with their Ultra HD HDR Home Theater Display technologies but we can likely expect the new app technology of SmartCast to spread beyond the P-Series and into other Vizio models and we could possibly even see the core concept of the SmartCast app to spread into other brands and their display devices.

In a nutshell, how SmartCast operates is by coming preinstalled on a 6-inch Android Tablet Remote that comes with the P-Series TVs. From there, just about any other mobile device can also be used as an on-the-fly remote control for a P-Series TV. Instead of enabling app surfing on the TV, the SmartCast app lets users search out new content first by genre across a whole range of smart TV apps right from inside the tablet or mobile device it’s installed on. With this, users can the select the app that has the streaming content they like for viewing on the Vizio TV itself. In other words, smart functionality, or at least a hefty part of the process for navigating it, comes in the palm of your hand instead of on the TV screen itself.

The SmartCast Tablet Remote for the P-Series

The SmartCast Tablet Remote for the P-Series

According to Matt MacRea, chief tech officer at Vizio, “The VIZIO SmartCast app, pre-installed on the P-Series Tablet Remote, finally brings home entertainment into the mobile era with advanced navigation, search and control of content sources. We’re excited to debut the P-Series collection, which not only sets a new benchmark with picture quality technologies like High Dynamic Range and Ultra Color Spectrum, but is also the world’s first display to fully integrate the Google Cast protocol.”

Furthermore, every Vizio SmartCast device also comes with Google Cast technology built into it, thus allowing users to access thousands of mobile apps as they prefer and from there access the content selections of these apps with the tap of a touch-button from any Cast-enabled device on their home WiFi network. Furthermore, by casting through WiFi, users can also use their tablet for other purposes while the P-Series TV in the home continues casting whatever you’ve set Google Cast to stream to it.

Vizio P-Series SmartCast Tablet Remote with Google Cast

Vizio P-Series SmartCast Tablet Remote with Google Cast

As for the P-Series 4K HDR TVs themselves. These new 2016 models offer up ultra HD resolution, full array LED backlighting and high dynamic range technology from Dolby, with Dolby Vision content support allowing for a definite improvement from the display quality of 2014’s P-Series models. The brightness of the new P-Series TVs is impressively high and color, contrast and imaging in general have all been considerably enhanced. Furthermore, Vizio promises a minimum of 126 local dimming zones in the P-Series TVs, with more for the larger models. On the other hand, the 2016 P-series TVs will not at least for now be recieving the UHD Alliance’s “UHD Premium” certification, due to disagreements on specs between Vizio and the UHDA, though Vizio claims that many of their display specs standards are superior to those promoted by the UHD Alliance.

HDR content from at least the new Samsung UBD-K8500 4K Blue-ray player won’t yet be visible in HDR on the P-Series models but this will change a bit further down the road after an HDR10 update is given to the TVs.

It’s worth noting, as the prices below show, that the 2016 Vizio P-Series models are some of the cheapest name brand HDR 4K TVs on sale today. This alone is worth paying attention to.

As for the sizes and prices of the P-Series models, the following is what interested buyers can look forward to:

Model  Size                     Price     Dimming zones    Refresh rate     

P50-C1  50 inches             $999      126                       60Hz       

P55-C1  55 inches             $1,299   126                       120Hz    

P65-C1  65 inches             $1,999   128                       120Hz    

P75-C1  75 inches             $3,799   128                       120Hz   

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  • Van
    March 29, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Vizio has it! Indeed, Dolby Vision is HDR to go for ! Dolby Vision is it!


  • Ben Ballard
    March 30, 2016 at 3:53 am

    Looks like a good set, sounds like a good set…until….. you read the website closer and find this :

    “The ATSC TV Tuner is a component built into conventional TV sets for receiving over‑the‑air broadcast TV without a cable/satellite box. Most households commonly stream or watch live TV from cable and satellite boxes. Neither of these requires a tuner, so you shouldn’t notice any differences in setup from your current TV.

    If you use an external antenna to watch free local channels, you will need a separate tuner adapter to connect your antenna to the display.

    All VIZIO SmartCast™ 4K Ultra HD displays are tuner‑free”

    All very well and good if you’re in America? However, I buy my TV’s to watch TV (free to air viewing), what’s the point in a tuner free TV,if you can’t actually WATCH TV on it without buying a tuner box? I want my Tuner built in to my TV, I DON’T want to have to spend out on an extra box to plug in to my 4K set. WHICH by all rights should be all singing and all dancing and therefore include EVERYTHING I need at the point of purchase?

    Vizio have shot themselves in the foot there by aiming the TV and it’s USP at the American market….thus isolating roughly 80-90% of their market in the rest of the world that actually watch TV through a TV with built in tuners. Most manufacturers are now going with Twin Tuners in their sets –

    Sony released six 4K Ultra HD models in Europe in 2015, the X83C, X94C, S85C, X85C, X90C, and X93C. All of the European 4K TVs offer twin tuner capabilities.
    Samsung have the UE40JU6740, UE55JU6740, UE55JS8500, UE48JU6740, UE55JS8000, UE48JS8500, UE48JS9000, UE65JS9500…. and the list goes on.
    Pana do the TX-58DX902B, TX-65DX902B, TX-65CX802B, TX-55CR852B, TX-50CX802B, TX-50CS520B, TX-65CZ952B, and the TX-65CR852B.

    So even from these mainstream manufacturers you have twin tuner capabilities, in the rapidly expanding 4K sector with massive competition between manufacturers, I can’t understand a TV manufacturer that is limiting it’s business model. I was seriously considering purchasing one of these sets (120hz of course), but now I’ve found this out I won’t be ordering one for my house.

    Not very well played Vizio, not very well played indeed.


    • Ben Ballard
      March 30, 2016 at 3:56 am

      I’m in the UK by the way


      • Evin
        March 30, 2016 at 6:12 am

        Buy a $30 tuner, or spend $1000 more for a comparable tv with one


        • Ben Ballard
          March 31, 2016 at 2:16 am

          UK: Pays a licence fee, free to air TV channels – population: 64,679 700
          France: Pays a licence fee, free to air channels – population 64,395,345
          Germany: Pays a Licence fee, free to air channels – population 79,925,008
          Italy: Pays a licence fee, free to air channels – population 59,797,685
          Japan: Pays a licence fee, free to air channels – 126,573,481
          Austria: Pays a licence fee, free to air channels – population 8,438,592
          Switzerland: Pays a licence fee, free to air channels – population 8,013,654

          408 MILLION people that require a TUNER in their TV! If this is a MONITOR, then it should be advertised as a monitor and NOT a TV, as it is incapable of receiving TV signals. This is in breach of Advertising standards and will likely fall under false advertising statute in the UK if it’s being advertised and sold as a “TV” here. I suspect it will also fall under the same remit in a 1st world commercial sphere when released internationally.

          U.S: NO licence fee, cable and satellite heavily subsidised by adverts and sponsors-
          Population 320,090,857

          That’s an extra 88 million people than the US if everyone had a TV (America and those countries listed). I hear the same thing every day when people want to buy soundbars and subs.. “Oh no, I don’t want any extra boxes cluttering up my living room”, the same will apply to a TV tuner box. This product will be laughed off the shelf by the general consumer in my opinion, it’s certainly dropped to the bottom of the pile in my estimations. It’s a bit like buying a Ferrari and then finding out you need to buy the engine on top of that….. you’re just going to leave the showroom laughing like a Hyena at the car salesman.


          • Philip Hatfield
            March 31, 2016 at 12:19 pm

            Ben, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear that nowhere on Vizio’s website do they describe the new P, M, or E-series models as “TVs.” They are described as “home theater displays.”

            In fact, in their FAQs about tuner-free displays, they directly address this question:

            What’s the difference between a “TV” and a “display?”

            A TV is a device class that includes a built‑in tuner. VIZIO SmartCast™ displays do not have a tuner built in, but still offer the same brilliant picture quality, intuitive experience and exceptional value that you would expect from a VIZIO TV.

          • Jack Hild
            April 2, 2016 at 11:14 am

            You may not realize this, Ben but the European market is really not all that important. In fact, it may just be an asterisk. China is the largest, most coveted UHD market. The US is the fastest growing UHD market. Vizio knows this, you don’t.

            Europe? Small 300 year old, re-re-refurbed homes with Antenna-needy population watching Government licensed station’s OTA broadcast?

            Sounds like Television in America circa 1958…

      • jake
        March 31, 2016 at 10:41 am

        did not even know people used antennas anymore..

        I like the fact that there is no tuner, it keeps the electronics to a minimum, less parts to break down..


    • Sam
      March 30, 2016 at 7:05 am

      Not having a tuner is a little annoying for someone like me that currently uses it, though I only use it for the NFL and sporadic other live events. But I can buy a tuner and plug it into my Xbox One for $54. Rumor has it DVR functionality will be added this year to it. You can buy an external tuner on Amazon that can work as a DVR for $35 as well, if you don’t have an Xbox One. There are certainly more expensive options like TiVo, HDHomerun, or TabloTV. I think introducing a little more competition into the external/network tuner market by forcing people to buy one is probably a good thing, overall. The tuner built into a TV, while it works, is a pretty dismal experience in the US. I can understand why Vizio, a budget/value brand, would want to cut out something that not many people use, and undoubtedly adds costs for the built in antenna, additional FCC approval, MPEG-2 decoding, building and maintaining an electronic programming guide, etc. Especially if they’re trying to push people away from using a legacy type remote in favor of Google Cast. It’s simplified now: use Google Cast, or plug in an external device and use its remote/controller. I’m honestly surprised they didn’t just go HDMI-only (junking RCA/Component, USB, and legacy audio output) and call it a day.


    • Paul
      March 30, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      Actually, this helps many people outside America. Many countries have a TV import tax that can double or even triple the MSRP. Removing the tuner makes this a “monitor” and not a “TV” and therefor the TV import tax does not apply. I would say population of people using a tuner for free over-the-air TV probably makes up a fraction of the market this set is being aimed at. The money you’ll save buying this set vs. a smililarly spec’d set from a competitor will allow you to buy 10+ tuners.


      • Jim
        March 31, 2016 at 7:56 am

        Nice piece of info. And I’d suggest you are spot on with why they did it. The set is only made for the North America Audience (NTSC) so would need a converter anyway. If it really is just a monitor, someone is going to take advantage and start making some serious coin importing them for foreign markets!


    • J
      March 30, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      Vizio doesn’t even distribute to the UK dumbass.


    • Jim
      March 31, 2016 at 7:52 am

      Vizio is only sold in the North American Market, Canada, USA, Mexico. Unless you want to import, and then you’d need a converter, because it’d be NTSC and you need PAL. Same deal for you either way.


    • Jim
      March 31, 2016 at 9:01 am

      A third party tuner goes for less than 50 bucks on Amazon. That’s how I will watch the NE Patriots this year!


  • Steve Savanna
    April 3, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Are those refresh rates shown correct? The Vizio site is showing the 50 inch at 120Hz and the others at 240Hz.


    • Stephen
      April 3, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      Hey there Steve, I think that what you’re seeing there is a sort of slighlty dishonest “effective refresh rate” being promoted. This normally means a model has a 60 Hz and sometimes possibly 120Hz native refresh rate but then the manufacturer adds something like black frame insertion which manipulates the display and backlight in a way that artificially inflates native refresh rates into basically false “effective” refresh. Simply put, the effective refresh rate isn’t a true panel refresh rate but a type of software processing instead. The 55+ models have 240 effective refresh rates and real refresh of 120Hz while the 50 inch offers 60Hz native and 120Hz “effective” refresh. This is what I believe to be the case here. The rates in our article are the real refresh rates of these TVs.


      • Paul
        April 10, 2016 at 9:59 pm

        For sports and games: 60hz VA or 120hz IPS ????
        Bought 50″ found out it was 60hz not 120hz…
        55″ coming Tuesday ….now know it’s IPS.
        IS 120hz still 120hz even if IPS.


  • David
    April 4, 2016 at 7:45 am

    All of the tuner complaints are IMO hilarious. The built in stuff is not that great; you save money on the TV and can go buy a 3rd party tuner which can record and has a full guide for $30…


    NOT to mention when UHD (4k) tv broadcasts finally do exist… you can upgrade your tuner to support this… Rumor has it next olympics will be broadcast in UHD (4k).

    This was absolutely the right move.

    I do hope everyone eventually wakes up to this.


  • Dan
    April 6, 2016 at 4:44 am

    I’ve used TiVo and now use TabloTV for my Tuner for OTA and if you’re family uses tablets and smartphones and multiple TV’s with Roku or Apple TV, then I can say you won’t miss the built in tuner on a TV.
    Having the flexibility of watching programs on any device and streaming recorded programs from the external hard drive attached to my TabloTV is great!!
    The one question I have around this new Google casting tech is, are we actually streaming the content from the tablet to the TV over wifi or is the content streamed to the TV directly from the router via Ethernet or WiFi and the tablet then just acts as an entirely new remote control experience? I have to say, I almost purchased a 2015 M series and was intrigued by the qwerty keyboard remote with the dedicated Netflix button but this new technology could be really interesting!!


  • Elton
    April 10, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Is this better than the ku7500 front samsung?


  • Paul
    April 11, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    Where are you seeing 60hz for the 50″?
    Online it says 120hz for the p series.


    April 15, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Just sell the empty lager bottles and buy a tuner, you cheap bastard! 🙂


  • Alan
    May 28, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    No tuner is a deal breaker for me. We all know that buying a seperate tuner box is inexpensive bla bla bla,… Thats not the point. The idea of requiring another box, another clumsy remote for a tuner that will output questionable signal quality is not a viable solution. Sorry Vizio. That $20 you saved by removing the tuner is a bad deal for many of us who enjoy high quality throughput of over the air hdtv. Calling tuner free a feature or saying its one less moving part to break is a cruel joke. I love my 2 MSeries. My next 4K tv will have a built in tuner.


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