Vizio M-Series 2016 4K UHD HDR Smart TV Review (M50-DI, M55-DO, M60-D1, M65-D0, M70-D3, M80-D3)
After first surprising consumers and competitors with their then excellent first edition P-Series 4K full-array LED backlit 4K TVs in late 2014, Vizio went on to release several new 4K TV editions for 2015 and now 2016, all of which were good to great. The 2015 D-Series 4K TV models and M-Series TVs have now also joined the 2016 P-Series second edition 4K HDR TVs to also be re-released with a completely revamped smart TV system and with the addition of some rather excellent HDR technology for expanded color and contrast quality which completely outdo what we saw in the 2014 and 2015 versions of these TVs.
In 2016, the Vizio P-Series is the definite flagship line of 4K TVs but still comes priced very reasonably for its superb quality and the M-Series we’re reviewing here now is the second-tier 4K HDR line for this year. With that, the 2016 M-Series models offer a mix of excellent display specs, some very good motion control and smart TV features and at the same time manage to be even more affordable than their P-Series cousins, with only moderate decreases in specs quality, mainly in the form of a smaller number of dimming zones and a few other not so serious details.
More than anything, the thing to really love about Vizio’s new M-Series 4K TVs is the simple fact that they offer the best blend of price and quality on today’s market bar none. The P-Series TVs of 2016 are definitely better models but the M-Series is even cheaper and for what it costs, the HDR, color, motion control specs and smart features are marvelous. This is something of a holy grail 4K TV in terms of how well it represents what we’ve always wanted to see in the 4K television market: Superb pricing and superb quality for those low prices.
Moving along, the M-Series, like its P-series counterparts, also offers Dolby Vision HDR technology standardization and now also offers HDR10 standardization as well, allowing for a maximum compatibility with a wide range of 4K UHD HDR content sources from both streaming media and hard video sources like 4K Blu-ray or downloaded set-top box movies and shows. This makes the M-Series a fully modern line of 4K TVs that will likely let you watch the most advanced types of 4K content at least for the short term future, and even if content HDR specs advance still further for the corresponding HDR enhancements we might expect in 2017, the picture quality offered by the 2016 M-Series is not likely to disappoint any TV owner any time soon.
Next, For the M-Series, Vizio has really delivered a wide range of sizes for all budgets and space requirements and even introduced panel technology variation for the sake of different display styles. Thus, with the M-Series, you can select from the smallest 50 inch model with only 32 local dimming zones, which retails for an extremely affordable $840 dollars or you can move right up to a gigantic 80 inch M-Series set with 64 local dimming zones and a price tag of $3,999. That’s expensive but it’s also the cheapest such price tag for any name brand 4K TV in this size range we’ve yet seen. And, as we said, panel technology is also slightly varied, with the 60 inch M60-D1 offering lower contrast IPS display that does however offer superior color performance.
Moving along, we love the fact that Vizio has invested so carefully in precisely developing a compact and apparently affordable type of full-array LED backlighting arrangement that they can fit into every single one of their 2016 M-Series TVs, from the smallest to the largest. The 50 inch M50-D1 offers up only 32 dimming zones but all other models from 55 inches up to the largest 80 inch giant M-Series model comes with 64 local dimming zones. This doesn’t quite compare to the 126 and 128 local dimming zones offered by the P-Series models but we’re talking about full-array local dimming, not its weaker edge-lit version here. And this is an impressive technology to see in such reasonably priced 4K TVs.
Finally, we can’t help but love the innovative spark that Vizio put into its new SmartCast mobile app-based smart TV platform. This is a complete changeover from the smart technology of previous Vizio 4K TVs and a different type of smart TV from anything we’ve seen in any other 2016 4K TV . With SmartCast, your smart platform isn’t displayed inside the Vizio TV itself but instead presents itself in a downloadable mobile app which you can install on any compatible Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. In the M-Series, the app comes with a 6 inch tablet remote that’s included in all of Vizio’s M-Series TVs from 55 inches on upwards but even if you buy the smallest of the M-Series TVs or simply lose the tablet that comes with the bigger models, you can simply download it to another mobile device. This app serves as the smart hub, streaming apps control and TV remote system for the M-Series 2016 4K HDR TVs and while it isn’t without its flaws (more on this shortly) it’s definitely a useful piece of technology, especially since it also includes Google Cast technology.
Here is a list of all 2016 Vizio M Series TV Models for Sale at Best Buy.
There’s little to complain about in the 2016 Vizio M-Series 4K TVs, especially with the price tag these models are selling at. However, a couple of weaknesses are worth noting.
First of all, the same SmartCast app arrangement for smart TV which we applauded above can also sometimes get annoying with its glitches. For one thing, the connection between SmartCast and 4K TV can suddenly be dropped out of the blue and requires momentary waiting for it to reestablish itself. And furthermore, the responsiveness of on-screen activity to a user’s control of the app itself can lag at times. This second defect of SmartCast is actually more common and more annoying than the first one above, with the input lag being something to make your face go red if it happens while you’re doing something in a bit of a hurry.
Additionally, the M-Series doesn’t quite offer the degree of brightness we’d expect from a full-array line of 4K TVs. While this is definitely one of the most minor complaints we could make about these TVs, it’s worth noting. Their overall peak brightness and contrast levels are superb but they don’t quite come close to matching what Samsung’s edge-lit 2016 SUHD TV models can put out and that’s definitely a bit disappointing to see in a TV with full-array LED backlighting. The compensation here however is that the local dimming of the M-Series and its P-Series cousins definitely beats that of any edge-lit 4K TV.
Next, Vizio’s upscaling engine for non-4K content is great and works superbly at not only increasing the sharpness of Full HD video but also its perceived contrast and color delivery. However, for 720p and 480p SD content, that same upscaling drops the ball just a bit. A sort of hazy effect becomes notable and while it isn’t too bad we’ve seen sharper reformatting of low resolution video sources in other 4K TV models for this year and even 2015.
In our final view of the 2016 M-Series 4K TVs, we’d have to say that they offer some excellent overall picture quality which is arguably the best there is for the sorts of lower prices these 2016 4K TVs sell for. You may be able to find 2015 models with even better specs and similar pricing but if you’re looking for this year’s 4K TV technology, the M-Series is superb for its price tag.
• Screen size: 50 diagonal inches, 54.6 diagonal inches 64.5 diagonal inches, 75, diagonal inches
• Smart TV: Vizio SmartCast Mobile smart TV app
• HEVC (H.265, H.264) Included: Yes
• VP9 Included. Yes
• HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate (Clear Action 360) in 50 and 55 inch models,
240Hz refresh with Clear Action 720 in 60, 65, 70 and 80 inch models
• Screen Lighting: Full-array LED backlighting with multi-zone local dimming
• Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
• Remotes: Android tablet remote with SmartCast, also includes small conventional button remote
• Connectivity: 5 HDMI 2.0a ports (4 in 50 inch model), 2 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Optical audio out, 1 component in, 1 RCA Audio out
• Sound: DTS Studio Sound and DTS TruSurround
• Contrast Ratio: 5140 : 1
• Black Level maximum: 0.021 cd/m2
• 3D Technology: None
• Processor: Octa Core
HDR: Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10 HDR in a planned set of firmware updates for 2016 are both standards represented in the Vizio M-Series 4K ultra HD TV lines, from the smallest to the largest model. While the peak luminosity of these TVs isn’t exactly up to par with the standards promoted by the UHD Alliance at a peak brightness which does not quite reach 1100 nits, the models still produce a decent level of high dynamic range and more importantly, manage a superbly high contrast ratio of just over 5,000:1. Samsung’s SUHD 4K TVs from 2016 and Vizio’s still better built 2016 P-Series models offer superior HDR specs by a considerable margin and also include wide color gamut space coverage (which is lacking in the M-Series 4K TVs), but the M-Series still delivers some very decent HDR specs.
SmartCast app: Vizio’s SmartCast app is present in all 2016 4K TV models and in the larger 55 inch+ M-Series TVs, the 6 inch Full HD Android tablet remote is also included with the SmartCast app installed on it. With SmartCast, Vizio has created a truly unique new smart TV viewing experience that we definitely think has some promise to it. In a certain way it’s also more practical since it allows for much greater smart TV and TV remote flexibility, with the app-based smart TV platform (SmartCast) being downloadable to any or multiple external mobile devices while offering all the same or better functionality and apps access as the older TV-based Internet Apps Plus smart platform of the 2015 Vizio 4K TVs.
SmartCast also comes with Google Cast technology for streaming and control between TV and mobile device.
4K content access: Unlike all of the 2015 and 2014 Vizio 4K TVs, the new 2016 models come with both HEVC and VP9 4K content compression support, allowing for a wider range of ultra HD streaming content options. Furthermore, with the addition of Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range, the new TVs can also support the latest sources of HDR content from the major providers such as 4K Blu-ray, Amazon Prime, Vudu and Netflix. This represents a marked improvement from the content options in 2015.
Octa-core processor: Most of the 4K TVs we review, even the premium name brand models, come with quad core processing power. In contrast, all of the Vizio M-Series TVs (and of course of all of the Vizio P-Series models as well) come with even more robust Octa-core processors that allow for a speedy, powerful and stutter or freeze-free smart TV and content browsing experience. Furthermore, they help upscale a wide array of content and process native 4K content efficiently and smoothly. This processing power is also largely what’s responsible for the mostly excellent motion control and motion interpolation abilities of the M-Series.
full-array LED backlight: Unlike nearly any other major 4K TV brand, Vizio makes a solid effort to deliver full array LED backlighting to virtually all of its 4K TV models across the board and while the brightness of those LEDs may not be quite as robust as what we’ve seen in Samsung’s 2016 and 2015 4K TVs, it’s still something quite impressive which furthermore allows for some great local dimming technology. In the M-Series, all of the 55 inch and larger TVs offer up 64 local dimming zones thanks to their full-array LED backlights.
In terms of visual specs, the M-Series offers a sort of turbo-charged 2015 M-Series display quality. On the one hand, specs for contrast, black uniformity and black level along with peak brightness have all been enhanced while on the other hand, color spectrum coverage remains largely the same as it did last year. This because the HDR technology of the 2016 M-Series 4K TVs does not offer Wide Color Gamut as it does in the 2016 P-Series models. Nonetheless, the 2016 M-Series TV still deliver some truly stunning display quality when you consider just how affordable they are.
Thus, as far as contrast goes, the M-Series manages a very decent contrast rating of 5100:1 that includes black levels of roughly 0.021 nits and white levels of 102 nits. Furthermore, these TVs offer peak brightness in a smaller 10% display window of just over 520 cd/m2 (nits). This is pretty decent peak brightness but not quite up to the superb levels we’ve seen in the Samsung 2016 SUHD TVs or in Vizio’s 2016 P-Series models. Nonetheless, the 2016 M-Series offers up a sort of lower-caliber HDR technology which will definitely create a more realistic and vibrant range of contrast and color combination in native 4K HDR content on your TV screen. It’s worth noting that while the rest of the 2016 M-Series TVs come with high contrast VA (Vertical Alignment) panel display technology, the 60 inch model has an IPS display, which means a lower contrast than what we detail above but at the same time greater color quality and much broader viewing angles. The VA TVs offer more limited viewing angles.
As for color, the M-Series models don’t offer the same HDR Wide Color Gamut specs as their P-Series cousins or other name brand 2016 HDR 4K TVs like Sony’s XBR-D 2016 4K HDR models or Samsung’s SUHD TVs but they still do offer 10-bit color processing ability and manage to deliver coverage for about 75% of the DCI-P3 color space. This is a level comparable to the color delivery of the 2015 M-Series and those older TVs offered solid if not spectacular color performance. We should also note that HDR and high contrast levels both work to enhance the quality of delivered colors in the M-Series displays even if they don’t have the same wide color as their better competitors.
Vizio also delivers some excellent motion control technology in the M-Series models, with very decent motion blur control, excellent judder control and full 24p playback along with some very functional motion interpolation technology.
Connectivity-wise, the M-Series comes with the same essential package of technologies as that found in most mainstream 4K TVs from this year. These are essentials like five HDMI 2.0 (soon to be 2.0a ports via firmware update), two USB ports 2.0 ports, and the usual component/composite and digital audio in ports. Furthermore, there is of course also Ethernet connectivity and built-in WiFi access for streaming content from the web and running the SmartCast remote control app’s Google Cast functionality. Additionally, the M-Series delivers access to a wide range of built-in 4K streaming media and non-4K media app of all sorts, with some offerings, like the Vudu 4K HDR movies app, which are specific to Vizio 4K TVs due to their Dolby Vision HDR standards.
We'd also like to note that that users don’t need to use the SmartCast app itself to access online content. If one is already familiar with an App from Vudu, or Netflix for example (or any of the thousands of other Cast-enabled apps), they can cast content directly from the App to the screen of the M-Series TV or other Vizio SmartCast 4K TVs. You can even Cast from the Chrome browser on your laptop or PC if you like.
The M-Series 4K TVs are priced very affordably and due to the numerous sizes in this line, a TV for nearly any moderate to modest budget is available. Thus, these models include the small 50 inch M50-D1, which retails for just $849 and from there Vizio has priced the other models at the following levels:
M55-D0 55 inches $999
M60-D1 60 inches $1,249
M65-D0 65 inches $1,499
M70-D3 70 inches $1,999
M80-D3 80 inches $3,999
Here is a list of all 2016 Vizio M Series TV for Sale at Best Buy.
To summarize the less than ideal aspects of the M-Series, they consist mainly of what we’d call minor problems which are far from deal-breakers. Quite the contrary in fact –considering the price range of these TVs, they’re remarkably robust and high quality models. That said, we don’t quite like the SD content upscaling of the M-Series and would have liked to see a still brighter level of peak luminosity considering that they come with full-array LED backlighting. Furthermore, the color quality, while good, is not quite as superb as what we’ve seen in the P-Series cousins of the M-Series.
Finally, the SmartCast app definitely could use a bit of debugging for lap issues and the occasional problem of a dropped remote connection. This is of course an entirely new smart TV technology from Vizio, so we expect or at least hope that it will be refined further as the year progresses.
• Excellent contrast
• SmartCast is pretty cool
• Great color accuracy
• Smooth motion control technology
• Excellent prices
• Rich deep blacks
• Many sizes and prices
• supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision
• SmartCast sometimes glitches
• Peak brightness could be better
• No HDR color support (wide Color Gamut)