Vizio P Series 2016 4K HDR Ultra HD TV Review (P50-C1, P55-C1, P65-C1, P75-C1)
Vizio has really come into its own since first kickstarting their drive for reputation via superior but affordable 4K UHD TVs with great specs, back in late 2014 with their first P-Series models and their revolutionary pricing for the time. Since then, they’ve released several new series of 4K TVs and even entered the ultra-premium ultra HD television landscape with their late 2015 Reference Series 4K HDR TVs, one being a 65 inch model that sold for roughly $6000 and the other a 120 inch monster that sold for nearly the price of an actual house.
Now, with 2016 being here, the P-Series has come back in its newest form and includes many of the technologies found in the fantastic Reference Series TVs but with far more reasonable price tags. What this means is that the 2016 Vizio P-Series TVs are more than just good TVs for a good price. No, unlike their 2014 cousins and the 2015 M-Series 4K TV line, the 2016 P-Series is a downright great TV at a great price. With HDR, great color, fantastic contrast and an improved 4K smart TV interface, Vizio has taken the P-Series to a new level and while they’ve also become more expensive in the process, they’re still definitely priced in a way that balances wonderfully with their mostly excellent quality.
First and foremost among the things we like about the 2016 P-Series TVs is there reinvented and highly innovative approach to smart TV functionality. Instead of your usual in-TV smart OS, the P-Series now comes with an included Full HD tablet remote accessory, which comes with the meat of the TVs’ smart control and apps access features. This is a fairly radical shift away from how smart TV has worked up to now and we even speculate that it might take hold across the entire 4K TV market at some point soon.
In basic terms, there is no longer any smart display on the TV itself. Instead, the TV screen proper only shows whatever content is being “cast” to it through the Vizio SmartCast app, which comes preinstalled on the included tablet remote but which can also be downloaded to almost any other tablet, smartphone or even PC. Since we’re also talking about 4K content here, it’s obviously not being transmitted to the TV from any of these external devices but being coordinated to appear on the display from within the TV’s own Ethernet connection or a connected external media player. In any case, the functionality of this entirely new take on smart TV is certainly useful and effective in many ways, though it also comes with some flaws which we will cover in the “Bad” section below.
Next up, we love the visual qualities of the Vizio 2016 HDR P-Series. This is a TV line which simply does not lack for quality display specs almost entirely across the board and the larger models in the 55 inch and above range are particularly wonderful to behold in how they display 10-bit color, extraordinarily good contrast, essentially perfect black uniformity and some truly superb local diming, with numerous specific “Active LED zones” which vary based on specific P-Series model size but which are found in all models thanks to the across-the-board full-array LED backlighting. In basic terms, these HDR TVs really do live up to their HDR chops, even if they don’t include the LCD Alliance’s Ultra HD Premium certification. In fact, we’d even argue that they beat the Sony X850D for all relevant HDR specs even though this other TV is certified by the UHD Alliance!
Additionally, there are also the motion control specs of the P-Series. In 2015, Sony was kind of these for LCD 4K TVs and still remains a superb performer but in this area, Vizio is giving all LCD competitors a serious run for their money with some nearly perfect 24p playback, judder control, motion interpolation and excellent motion blur control.
Finally for the great design-related qualities, we love the simple fact that Vizio is serious about making full-array LED backlighting as widely accessible as possible for decent prices. Samsung, Sony, LG and other brands all still insist on essentially insulting consumers’ pockets by charging thousands for premium 4K TVs that rarely include full-array in any but the very flagship models while Vizio has included the technology pretty much across the board in the 2016 P-Series, just as it included the same technology in all 55 inch+ models for the 2014 P-Series and 2015 M-Series 4K TVs. . This isn’t to say that Sony or Samsung’s 4K TVs aren’t also great performers despite edge-lit displays but they could be even better performers if they put a bit more interest into delivering the same robustness as Vizio does in this area.
Now, finally, after listing all the superb technologies and features of the 2016 P-Series, we get down to what we think really tops them off nicely. This is of course their price range. These latest mass market Vizio TVs aren’t as cheap as they were in 2014 but they’re wonderfully priced nonetheless. The smallest 50 inch range goes for just $999 and even the largest 75 inch model sells for what is still a very reasonable $3,799 price tag. And remember, these are TVs with full HDR, 10-bit color and the rarified technology of full-array LED backlighting with at least 126 dimming zones, even in the smallest model.
They are currently only available at BestBuy and not for Sale on Amazon. We will update this review as soon as they are available.
For all their excellent qualities, the 2016 P-Series also isn’t without its minor to moderate flaws. None of these are going to be deal breakers for most people, especially considering the prices these TVs sell for but they are definitely worth pondering.
For starters, the new SmartCast tablet/app-based smart platform of the P-Series can get buggy at times. This mainly happens in the form of a dropped connection between app casting device and TV here and there or some lag in responsiveness. Thus, sometimes doing things like modifying settings, moving through content choices or even changing volume can suddenly fail or respond with some serious lag time. Obviously, we should expect something like this for a first-run implementation of this technology and Vizio will almost certainly iron out these bugs as 2016 progresses, and certainly for newer versions of both the app and Vizio’s TVs in general, but at least for now, the glitches in SmartCast can sometimes get frustrating.
Next, there are the display technology characteristics of the P-Series which don’t work quite as nicely as the ones we loved in the section above. First among these is the upscaling engine in the P-Series. It works superbly for Full HD content and even does a sort of dynamic range and color upscaling to non-HDR 4K content that we also greatly appreciate but when it comes to 480p content and 720p video sources, the P-Series upscaling system isn’t quite as good as we’ve seen in other name brand 2015 and 2016 4K TVs. For 480p content in particular, the engine can create quite a bit of fuzziness as it tries to stretch the low native video resolution to fit the TVs’ 8.29 million pixel screens.
On top of this upscaling problem, the P-Series does not come with any 3D technology or support for 3D video. As far as we’re concerned, this is a minor detail since 3D is still mostly overrated and scarce with 3D formatted content being scarce on the ground anyhow but for those of you who feel the need for a 3D 4K TV option, the P-Series, like the Samsung 2016 SUHD TVs, is not your best bet since both completely lack this technology.
Finally for display weaknesses, the viewing angles of the P-Series 2016 HDR 4K TVs are less than great. Like their competitors the 2016 SUHD TVs from Samsung, the 2016 P-series (except the 55 inch model, which uses IPS display) uses VA panel technology instead of IPS panel and as a result, viewing angles of more than 60 degrees from dead center (0 degrees) to either side result in a serious level of contrast and color fade. The one exception to this, the 55 inch P55-C1 offers IPS display and thus delivers reduced contrast but considerably better viewing angles.
We should also note that the P-Series offer slightly weaker color space coverage in the DCI-P3 gamut. They’re 10-bit TVs but their color performance does lag slightly behind what we noted in the Samsung SUHD models and Sony HDR TVs for 2016.
In the final cut, the 2016 Vizio P-Series is one of the best overall TV deals in 2016. No, these aren’t comparable to the truly cutting edge OLED 4K TV models for this year and they lag behind some of the other major name brand 4K TVs in a few distinct ways but quite frankly, the match is very close between the 2016 Vizio P-Series and almost any Samsung or Sony 4K TV for this year. Vizio has really moved things up a couple of notches and the result should give the rest of the 4K HDR LCD TV market a serious dose of competitive concern.
• Screen size: 50 diagonal inches, 54.5 diagonal inches 64.5 diagonal inches, 75, diagonal inches
• Smart TV: Vizio SmartCast Mobile smart TV app
• HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
• VP9 Included. Yes, and VP8
• HDR: Yes Dolby Vision and HDR10
• HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate (Clear Action 480) in 50 inch model
• 240Hz refresh with Clear Action 960 in 55, 65 and 75 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 2.0 ports (upgrading to HDMI 2.0a), 2 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Optical audio out, 1 component in, 1 RCA Audio out
• Sound: 2 20 watt speakers with DTS Studio Sound
• Contrast Ratio: 5694 : 1
• Black Level maximum: 0.018 cd/m2
• 3D Technology: None
• TV weight (with stand for all models)
• 50 inch: 32.85 lbs
• 55 inch: 41.01 lbs
• 65 inch: 62.39 lbs
• 75 inch: 103.62 lbs
• Processor: Quad Core
Vizio’s 2016 P-Series TVs offer their most powerful highlights in the form of their smart TV functionality and select display specs that really place them in a powerful class of their own at their price and serve to make these latest Vizio televisions into some of the best 4K LCD TVs of any type in 2016.
Highlight number one and quite possibly the single most innovative new feature of the P-Series, or of any 2016 4K TV is the complete remake of smart TV found in the SmartCast app. As we already described above, SmartCast takes the smart ecosystem which was formerly an integral part of your TV and makes into a portable piece of interface technology which you can transfer among as many different mobile devices as you like. For one thing, this means no need to worry about a lost remote again and for another thing, multiple remotes can literally be created on the fly from existing compatible smart devices like phones and tablets in your home. The concept behind SmartCast is quite simply brilliant and we’d love to see it catch on further after a bit more refinement and debugging.
Secondly, there is the most powerful display highlight of the Vizio P-Series, for 2016 applying as much as it did in 2014. This of course is the simple fact that all of these new TVs offer full-array LED backlighting and multizone local dimming technology. When Vizio first introduced this to their 55 inch and larger 2014 P-Series it deeply impressed us to see it available in such affordably priced 4K TVs and now in 2016, the technology is back in the next generation, now brighter and more precise than ever in delivering rich contrast and deep local dimming. The only sad thing is to see the other major name brands still shirking on doing the same with their own 2016 premium 4K TV lines.
Next up, we have the most fundamental highlight of all in the P-Series. This is the sheer quality of their HDR technology. Unlike the other major competitors Sony and Samsung, Vizio has temporarily eschewed UHD Alliance “Ultra HD Premium certification” in favor of going for Dolby Lab’s Dolby Vision HDR standards which are also being used by 4K streaming content services like Netflix and Vudu. Furthermore, in terms of sheer quality, the HDR of the P-Series gives a big boost to the reputation of the Dolby Vision idea. These TVs offer outstanding HDR specs, with superb peak brightness levels and deep rich blacks combining to create a native contrast ratio which blows both Samsung’s 2016 SUHD HDR TVs and Sony’s 2016 HDR TVs right out of the water. Considering that the P-Series models are cheaper than either of the above, this is an impressive achievement indeed. We should also note that HDR10 (UHD Alliance favored HDR) compatibility available in these TVs, due to a firmware update which also activated HDMI 2.0a in the four ports with the 2.0 version.
As we’ve already alluded to plenty of times in the other segments above, the visual specs of the Vizio P-Series 2016 HDR 4K TVs are simply stunning almost entirely across the board. Now, let’s take a quick look at some of the numbers behind these claims to give you an idea of just why we’re so impressed.
First of all, there is the combination of peak brightness, black levels, contrast, local dimming and screen uniformity to consider. In all of these, the P-Series are almost uniformly superb performers. Peak brightness sits at well above 550 cd /m2 in all percentage window testing scenarios and in doing so happens to outdo some other competitor models like the Sony X850D TV we’ve also covered, which only managed luminance in the 360 cd/m2 range despite also being an HDR TV.
Now while edge-lit Sony premium TVs like the X930D manage even higher peak brightness rates of 900+ cd/m2. The Vizio P-Series still delivers superior overall contrast because of its astonishingly good black levels. These models can reduce light bleed for black levels down to as little as 0.019 cd/m2, contrasted against white levels of about 103 cd/m2, which is considerably darker than the average we’ve seen for both Samsung’s lower-end SUHD KS8000 model or even Sony’s flagship X930/40D models. As a result, despite the good but not exceptional peak brightness of the P-Series, overall contrast achieved in these TVs is a stunningly high average of 5600:1. This is deep and rich indeed. 126 local dimming zones in the 50 and 55 inch TVs and 128 specific dimming zones in the 65 and 75 inch models only compound the quality of the contrast through some remarkably precise local dimming, for an LCD 4K TV series. We should also note that the P-Series TVs deliver nearly perfect black uniformity. This is indeed an impressive improvement from what we saw in the 2014 models.
We should also mention that the above contrast specs don't apply equally to the 55 inch P55-C1 P-Series model. For reasons of what we assume is variation, Vizio gave this TV an IPS display and thus while color vibrancy is better and viewing angles quite a bit wider, the native contrast on this TV is reduced by a fair bit, sitting at about 1500:1.
Next, there is the color performance in the P-Series. While in this area the TVs don’t perform quite as well as their Samsung and Sony competitors, they still deliver some finely graded 10-bit color as per their HDR standards specs from Dolby Vision and also manage to cover roughly 88% of the DCI-P3 color space, putting them close to the UHD Alliance Ultra HD Premium standard in quality. On the other hand, quantum dot and phosphor color enhancements filters for the backlights and LEDs are not present in the P-Series as they are in Samsung’s SUHD TVs and Sony’s Bravia models (Triluminos Display)
Finally, the judder control, motion control and motion interpolation technologies in the P-Series all work superbly. The first two of these work in what we’d consider to be an essentially perfect way and motion blur is regulated superbly if not perfectly. Combining these qualities with the extensively broad connectivity options of the P-Series (five different HDMI 2.0 ports) also makes these models into superb gaming TVs, either in 4K resolution or upscaled Full HD.
Connectivity-wise, the P-Series delivers the essentials you need for an ideal 4K content viewing and general streaming or broadcast media experience but with a couple of not so major but notable flaws.
For starters, the entire line of P-series models offers up all the usual connectivity ports, with an above average quantity of five HDMI slots, slightly less than average quantity of just 2 USB 2.0 ports and the usual component/composite and digital audio in ports. Of the five HDMI ports, four are 2.0 versions and the fifth is of the older [email protected] 1.4 type. There is of course also Ethernet connectivity and built-in WiFi for access to streaming web content and SmartCast functionality. Furthermore, because these are Dolby Vision HDR TVs, you can also access the Vudu 4K streaming media app on them, which uses the same HDR spec and is specifically available for newer Vizio 4K models.
Furthermore, the P-Series now also offers VP9 4k content compression support. This means access to an even wider range of 4K UHD streaming content, particularly from YouTube's content app.
The pricing structure of the P-Series is excellent for the specs and overall quality these TVs deliver. The four different models are priced as follows:
They are currently only available at BestBuy and not for Sale on Amazon. We will update this review as soon as they are available.
As we’d mentioned above, the not so great aspects of the P-Series are few and minor for the most part. However, for all their quality, these TVs with the exception of the 55 inch IPS model offer less than ideal viewing angles, lack 3D technology and sometimes suffer from glitches in rapid communication between their mobile-based SmartCast platform and the TVs themselves.
• Superb high dynamic range
• HDR10 and Dolby Vision compatible
• Excellent contrast
• Vizio SmartCast mobile smart TV
• Included tablet
• Incredible black levels
• Great color performance
• Wonderful motion control specs
• No 3D
• Weak viewing angles
• Peak brightness could be still higher
• SmartCast glitches up sometimes