Earlier this year, I was in New York at the invitation of VIZIo. The occasion was the unveiling of the company’s 2018 4K smart TVs, and new Dolby Atmos sound bars. And the star of the show was an all-new flagship set to challenge OLED as Vizio continues to go up-market with its offerings: The P-Series Quantum TV.
I was looking forward to the event. I recently switched to a 65-inch Vizio P-Series TV for the family room and I have been really impressed by what it can do. Paired with a 4K Apple TV (you can see both in action in this review), it’s seriously upped our family movie nights. I was curious to see what improvements would be in store for 2018.
Vizio’s event differed from many industry product launches I’ve attended. The company went all out to ensure attendees got to spend hands-on time with each of the products, along with full access to the teams that helped to design and build them. Instead of a big trade show floor or stage jam-packed with screens, the company set up shop on an entire floor of an elegant New York hotel. Rooms were equipped with the new gear in different settings and journalists were walked through three at a time, with plenty of time to watch demos and ask questions. The format was effective, informative, and I came away knowing more about the technology in play—not just what Vizio was offering.
Vizio displays are now Vizio TVs, and they’re better than ever
My Vizio TV is technically called a Vizio display. That’s because it has no built-in TV tuner. But for 2018, the confusion ends, with all Vizio SmartCast TVs coming equipped with TV tuners.
As you move up the range, you’ll notice something begin to disappear: bezels. The P-Series is down to a slim bottom bezel, while the P-Series Quantum is edge-to-edge glass. All 2018 SmartCast TVs have the latest version of Vizio’s namesake SmartCast operating system that offers apps like Netflix and now supports universal voice search. They are also Chromecast-enabled and support both Android Assistant and Alexa voice control.
All the 2018 SmartCast TVs are 4K resolution, with HDMI 2.0 inputs and have HDR 10 support. All but the base model D-Series also offer Dolby Vision HDR and have local dimming zones (up to 16 on the E-Series and 192 on the P-Series Quantum).
This is how local dimming works
Speaking of local dimming, this is one of those terms that’s always sort of made sense, but in an abstract way.
Vizio had a room with all its new TVs stripped down to their LED arrays. This actually showed local dimming in action and now I truly get it. The more zones, the more localized backlighting so LEDs don’t wash out the dark areas of the screen. I’ve circled a “pause’ symbol on the accompanying photo. It shows how that graphic (when you push the button on your remote) results in LED backlighting behind a large section of the screen with fewer local dimming zones, and a much more localized effect with more dimming zones.
So an LCD TV with more local dimming zones is capable of more granular LED backlighting control, and able to show much deeper black levels across the screen.
Vizio’s P-Series Quantum takes on OLED
The big news out of the event was the introduction of a new flagship TV, the P-Series Quantum. Available some time this summer and shipping only as a 65-inch model, the Vizio P-Series Quantum was designed to take on premium OLED TVs, but at a more affordable price.
To do this, Vizio adopted Quantum Dot technology. This is an improvement on standard LED, that eliminates filters used to separated white light into different colours. Instead, Quantum Dots are tiny particles that glow with a specific colour when hit by a blue LED. This allows for brighter, more saturated and more accurate colours than a standard LCD panel can produce. And speaking of brightness, the P-Series Quantum hits a peak brightness of 2,000 nits. That’s double the 1,000 nits of the P-Series and among the best in the industry.
Vizio set up a P-Series Quantum TV in a room right beside a leading OLED TV of the same size so we could compare picture quality. While the local dimming capability of the Vizio TV did black very well for LCD, the OLED still had the edge there, which is not a surprise. What was surprising was the colour intensity and brightness, where the Vizio TV actually seemed to outperform its rival.
I can’t vouch for how the two sets were configured and as always, mileage will vary in your own home compared to showroom brightness, but the fact that the Vizio P-Series Quantum came so close to OLED bodes well for more affordable, premium TV viewing once it arrives.
Soundbars with Dolby Atmos
Also on display was Vizio’s lineup of sound bars with Dolby Atmos support. The company has been stealthily building a reputation for putting out affordable, high quality sound bars for some time now.
The trio on display will be coming later this year and included an all-in-one unit, as well as a standout 46-inch model with a subwoofer and upward-facing satellite speakers. They all sounded great, but that last one was incredibly immersive. I invested $1,200 or so in a digital sound projector about a decade ago, and this new Vizio sound bar would definitely give it a run, especially when it comes to surround audio.
Watch for Vizio in 2018
The message I got from New York is that Vizio is looking to be an even bigger player in 2018. Its TVs are improved across the line, it’s going after premium buyers, and the company is also spending more time perfecting features besides the core display technology—industrial design, operating system and smart capabilities. So watch for those new Vizio TVs and sound bars when they hit your local Best Buy’s TV and Home Theatre showroom.
When will we see the Vizio Quantum show up at Best Buy Canada? The US website seems to have consistent availability in the past week.
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