Vizio V-series (2021): Budget TV with midrange features

Vizio typically stacks his televisions with excellent features for the price and the V Series, its most affordable TV with 4K resolution is HDR, fits the mold. New this year is a Bluetooth voice remote control, while players and image retouchers will appreciate hers low input delay for the game e extensive image adjustments. Its SmartCast Smart TV system has a solid selection of built-ins app and excellent device compatibility as well, but still not as good as the Roku rival system.

Like it

  • Excellent features for a low price
  • Voice remote control with Bluetooth
  • Many image adjustments

I do not like

  • Only average performance
  • HDR doesn’t look much better than SDR
  • Worse integrated streaming than Roku

Image quality on the V series is fairly average, no better or worse than others in its price range, although that still means a bright, color-accurate image with a decent black level and contrast. I compared its image to its closest competitor, the TCL Series 4, and while the V series was a little weaker, side by side they are virtually indistinguishable.

That TCL, which runs on a Roku interface, is a little easier to use and has a more comprehensive selection of streaming services, but not so many tweaks for those who want to fine-tune their TV picture. If you know your TV settings and like to select picture modes, Vizio is the best option. On the other hand, if the price between the two is a wash, I give TCL a slight edge overall thanks to Roku TV.

The 2021 V Series is available in sizes 43 to 75 inches and costs between $ 340 and $ 920. I reviewed the 55-inch model, which is currently available for around $ 440.

Bluetooth remote control, complete with Vizio voice

While the V series does not have the step-up options found on High-end Vizios like the M and P series – things like next-gen gaming perks, local dimming, wide color gamut, or tons of light – it has the company’s brand new voice remote. That new clicker is one of the biggest differences between TCL’s V series and 4 series, and the Vizio has the edge. The TCL remote looks cheap, it’s IR (infrared) only, and lacks voice capability.

Meanwhile, the Vizio remote seems to have come with a (slightly) more expensive product. It has both IR and Bluetooth, so you just have to point it at the TV when you turn it on. It also has voice control, so you can switch TV inputs, search for content, and more. It doesn’t have dedicated play buttons, unlike the TCL, which is a bit disappointing – you use the main directional pad to control play / pause, rewind etc.

Voice control via the remote works well, about as well as the version of Roku on devices that have it (or via a step-up remote control). The most useful thing is to be able to search for shows and more. For example, you can hold the button and say “Ted Lasso“and the show will be displayed with a link to where you can find it. If so, that’s enough Apple TV Plus, but when a show / movie is available on multiple platforms, you can choose the one you want and the TV will navigate directly there with the push of a button. This voice search may seem like a small thing, but once you get used to it, going back to the old way (like TCL’s Series 4 remote) feels archaic.

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Geoffrey Morrison / CNET

Vizio’s remote reserves the placement of the main button for Vizio’s “free TV” service which has a hodgepodge of free content to watch in a basic cable way. I suppose more free content is a good thing, but you’ll probably accidentally hit this button a lot more than you would ever actually watch this content.

Most popular streaming services are integrated into Vizio SmartCast, including Netflix, of course, along with Disney Plus, Vudu, Amazon Prime. The TV interface minimizes their importance, instead drawing attention to large banners at the top that feature actual shows and movies that look like advertisements (which, of course, are). However, this has the positive effect of making it seem like there’s always something available to watch and it changes regularly, unlike the more static and static Roku interface on TCL.

One service that is notably lacking is HBO Max. However, you can install the HBO app on your phone / tablet and cast it to TV using Chromecast or Apple AirPlay. Not a big deal for the typical tech-savvy CNET player, but if you’re considering this TV for your parents / grandparents and they need their regular The Wire or Oz fix, this extra step could be frustrating.

Connections and game functions

The rest of Vizio’s features and connections are basic too, with the exception of the variable refresh rate available with AMD FreeSync on two 70-inch and 75-inch models – the V706-J and V756-J – in the series. The other two V-series TVs of that size, the V705-J and V755-J, lack VRR. Gamers who want VRR should note that those step-up “6” models, like all of the V series, are still 60Hz TVs – to get 120Hz and VRR input, you will need to switch to P series

I have not tested those models, but on the 55 inch model I have tested it, input lag with Game Low Latency mode enabled it is low, about 14 ms.

The Energy Star rating on the model I reviewed is mid-range, at $ 22 per year. For comparison, the 55-inch TCL Series 4 costs $ 12 per year, so not a huge difference.

  • HDMI inputs: 3 (1 with eARC)
  • Composite analog input
  • USB port: (0.9A power)
  • Internet: wired and wireless dual band 802.11n
  • Antenna input
  • Analog audio output
  • Optical digital audio output
  • Speakers: two facing down facing down)
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Geoffrey Morrison / CNET

Friendly configuration, many settings

Il Vizio walks you through the initial setup steps with large friendly menus. Once you get to the main home screen, there are a lot of things thrown at you at once. As mentioned above, this gives it a much more dynamic feel than the basic boring blocks of the Roku interface.

One of the main things that separates the Vizio from the TCL is the much more extensive image settings. While the TCL doesn’t go much beyond the basics, the Vizio has adjustments for noise reduction settings, resolution / detail improvements, and more. It allows you to change the picture to a level more typical of a high-end TV.

Like the TCL 4 series, the Vizio will detect a 24p signal and adjust its refresh and backlight to reduce flicker. This is not the soap opera effect. Unlike the TCL, the Vizio gives you the option to turn it off if you notice any issues or prefer more erratic motion more like a traditional TV.

Image quality comparisons

The most direct competitor to the Vizio V series is 55S435. by TCL, which is about 10% cheaper at the time I tested it. The Samsung QN55Q60A is that company’s entry-level QLED model, although even so it’s nearly double the price of the V series. It’s here to give you an idea of ​​what can make you spend the most. For my side-by-side comparison, I connected all three TVs via a 1×4 Monoprice distribution amplifier and viewed them all in a row.

The Vizio and the TCL looked very, very similar. Although the TCL is a little brighter, side by side you can’t really tell. It is also close enough to be probably within the standard unit-to-unit range of variation. Or to put it more simply, they have about the same brightness overall. The colors of the TCL are a little more accurate, but again, they are so close that it would be difficult to pick one over the other.

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Geoffrey Morrison / CNET

Color and brightness are the two things you get by switching to Samsung. It’s about 15% brighter than TCL with non-HDR content, which in turn is about 10% brighter than the Vizio. So there is a noticeable difference between the Vizio and the Samsung. Color is more noticeable, however, at least with HDR. With regular HD and 4K content, they are almost all the same. With HDR the Samsung has noticeably deeper and richer colors. It also has better brightness with HDR, being able to pump over 400 nits, almost double that of the other two. Does that better HDR performance make it nearly double the money? Not in my book.

Like most LCDs, off-axis performance isn’t great. That is to say, if you have a large sofa, or grandpa likes to sit on the side bed, anyone not directly in front of the TV has a noticeably worse picture. In this way, however, it is more or less the same as TCL and Samsung.

Since the V series can’t do much with HDR content, lacking both the brightness and extended color capabilities of a “true” HDR TV, it’s good that it does a great job of remapping HDR content to be watchable within these limitations. . You can set the overall image brightness and it generally does a better job with this than the TCL. Not a huge difference, but a huge difference.

Which cheap TV to get?

The Vizio V series and the TCL 4 series are brothers of other mothers, sisters of other misters. They are much more similar than they are different. The TCL is a bit brighter, the Vizio has a slightly better contrast ratio. Either way, it’s hard to notice even side by side. The Roku interface is better and has pretty much all the streaming options available. Vizio’s remote is better, however, with both its Bluetooth and voice capabilities.

Aside from smart TV systems, the biggest difference is probably the settings, of which the Vizio has more picture quality adjustment options than the simplistic TCL. So, if you know a TV menu, or want to be able to compose the picture even on a cheap TV, the Vizio is your best choice, as long as you don’t mind a couple of extra circles to watch HBO.

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