As the young folk say, the Vizio Reference Series is pretty hype. The vaunted 4K TVs first graced the stage during CES 2014, grabbing AV enthusiasts' attention and refusing to let go. But then 2014--and 2015--came and went with hardly a peep about Vizio's darling, save for a brief appearance last April when the company debuted surprise prototypes of the 65- and 120-inch Reference Series TVs in NYC. The TVs became available for special order shortly after, suggesting a masterfully timed release that would hit the market just in time to take advantage of the growing tide of new TV standards like HDR.. We've finally got the 65-inch Reference Series (Vizio RS65-B2, MSRP: 5,999) in our lab and have set Vizio's paragon to boil after two years of simmering. Does it really deserve the title of "Reference Series?"
While many other manufacturers chase new technology with 8K and HDMI 2.1, Vizio is enhancing its 4K TV lineup, starting from the lower-priced V series all the way up to its top-of-the-line P-Series Quantum X. The V series steps in where Vizio's E line of TVs used to reside, with smart TV features, Dolby Vision HDR and up to 16 zones of local dimming, with models ranging from 40- to 75-inches. The number of dimming zones and peak brightness -- crucial for precise backlighting with proper contrast and vivid colors -- goes up as you proceed across the lines and increase the prices. This year's M-Series features up to 90 zones (double that of last year's M-Series) and 600 nits of peak brightness, while also adding the "quantum color" technology previously reserved for the higher-end P-Series, all in sizes between 43- and 65-inches. Speaking of the P-Series Quantum lineup, that covers 65- and 75-inch TVs (plus an 85-inch prototype that the company wouldn't commit to) with up to 480 local dimming zones, while the P-Series Quantum X feature the highest brightness rating of the group with "UltraBright 2900" that Vizio claims elevates Dolby Vision to a new level, plus a slick bezel-less design.
Memorial Day may be over, but you can still take advantage of Vizio's holiday weekend sales if you're in the market for a high-quality TV. We've reviewed a lot of Vizios, and our favorite of the lot, the 50-inch P-Series, is currently on sale for $819.99, down from $999.99. The P-Series not only won our Editors' Choice award, but it also ranks in the top five for 50-inch TVs, and is one of the best 4K TVs for gaming. Not only does the 4K display offer up insanely sharp details, but the high dynamic range (HDR) brings depth and brightness to the picture too. This TV has SmartCast technology, which lets you easily access things like the Google Play Store, Netflix, YouTube.
One one end, you've got the expensive and futuristic moonshots; LG's carpaccio-thin OLEDs, Samsung's quantum-dot-infused ULED sets, and Sony's high-end panels. These sets are gorgeous, but they're priced so high that most people will only fantasize about owning one. Sub-$1,000 sets continue to get better, offering 4K resolution, HDR compatibility, and other features that rival the highest-end models from just a few years back. Not too long ago, that attractive blend of price and performance was a one-horse race: Vizio dominated the scene with its sub-$1,000 4K HDR options. Now, Vizio has heavy competition from Chinese manufacturers firming up their footholds in the US market.
This 60-inch Vizio E-series 4K TV is just 798. Vizio has grown from a modest outfit to one of the biggest TV manufacturers in the US for one reason: value. The company is an expert at working the supply chain so that it can offer the biggest TVs at remarkably affordable prices. While pretty much every model in the series is well-priced, you can now get the 60-inch Vizio E60u-D3 ( 798 at Walmart) for less than 800. That's down from its MSRP of 969.99, which was already cheaper than most competing 60-inch 4K TVs.