Vizio V-Series (2019) report: Budget TV betrayed by weak streaming, picture quality differences – CNET

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Vizio V-Series 2019 V556-G1 V605-G3

As streaming is becoming increasingly popular – from must-haves like Netflix and Amazon Prime to Cable cutter live TV to like Sling TV and YouTube TV for new options like Apple TV Plus. Disney Plus and HBO max – It makes sense for TV buyers to prioritize a robust, integrated streaming system. Smart TVs that get the latest apps and updates and are quick and easy to use have TVs that don't, especially at the budget level. Of course, you can add a media streamer to any TV, but that means you buy an extra device and need a different remote control to juggle.

Vizio makes some solid, affordable TVs, including the V-Series, but they're hampered by the industry's worst smart TV system. In a more expensive model like that, I can overlook its sluggishness, busy interface, and lack of apps M8 Serieswhere adding a Roku Streaming Stick Plus for $ 50 is not so bad. But for the dirt cheap price for which the V-series competes, real Roku televisions like them TCL 4 series Victory.

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It does not help that different models of the V series in the product range have different functions and performance in terms of image quality. I tested two different ones for this test and one did better than the other. This model offers local dimming with a full array, however – unlike in last year's E series – most of the others don't. Many models are also equipped with inferior LCD panel technology.

Yes, the best examples of the V-Series do better overall than the TCL 4-Series, but the difference is not huge. If you can buy the V-Series at a significant discount, it might be worth it, but most budget-priced TV buyers will be happier with the TCL.

V = Very confusing, so beware buyers

Unlike most TV manufacturers, Vizio distributes different functions across different models of the same series, and the result is quite confusing. Here is a summary of all the models currently on the Vizio website.

Vizio V-Series 2019 models

model

Size (inch)

Local dimming zones

Panel Type

V656-G4

65

12

VA or IPS

V556-G1

55

10

VA

V436-G1

43

10

VA or IPS

V755-G4

75

none

VA

V705-G3

70

none

VA

V655-G9

65

none

VA

V605-G3

60

none

VA

V555-G1

55

none

VA

V555-G4

55

none

VA or IPS

V505-G9

50

none

VA

V435-G0

43

none

VA or IPS

V405-G9

40

none

VA

Only 3 of the 12 models offer local dimming with full array, my favorite extra for improving the picture quality for LCD TVs. The overall picture quality is improved by dimming some areas (zones) of the picture in relation to others. I tested two V-series models for this test and only one, the V556-G1, has local dimming (spoiler: that helps).

The other model I've tested, the V605-G3, is not locally darkened and is representative of most of the other models in the series. It didn't go much better than the TCL 4 series.

And there is another problem: Some models of the V series have IPS-based ("in-plane switching") LCD panels instead of the VA (Vertical Alignment) panels that are used in other sizes. VA generally provides superior contrast and black levels for IPS. Both of the models I tested were VA-based, and I expect the IPS models to perform poorly.

Here is Vizio's statement:

Vizio tries to keep panel technology consistent, but we know that the volume of products like the V-Series will be too large for a panel provider. In some screen sizes we will use VA and IPS panels to meet the demand. The V656-G4, V555-G4, V436-G1 and V435-G0 models will eventually use IPS panel technology. It's hard to tell when the IPS panels will cut, but your readers can use the following serial numbers as a prefix to identify models with IPS panels. If the fourth digit of the serial number is an "F" – or in the case of the V435-G0 "F" or "K" – an IPS panel is used in this example. All other serial numbers for the 2019 V series are units that use VA panels.

If you don't want to blink a serial number in the store or you don't want to have online access to it for the model you buy, you should avoid the "VA" or "IPS" models entirely. Unfortunately, two of them are equipped with local full array dimming.

Vizio V-Series 2019 V556-G1 V605-G3

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Sarah Tew / CNET

Design: There is nothing special to see here

Most TVs look the same these days, and the V is no exception. The frame around the screen has a two-tone finish – matte and glossy black – but at least the company has removed the cheesy chrome strip at the bottom. The legs are angular, not rounded and angled, but that's all I have. At least there is no light under the logo as TCL uses it.

I don't like Vizio's remote control with a lot of buttons and I had to keep looking down instead of operating it by feel. I prefer the simplicity of the Roku TV remote from TCL or the more advanced clicker from Samsung and LG.

SmartCast: Maybe it will be faster, but still not a roku

I'll start with the good news. According to Vizio, the latest version of the SmartCast Smart TV system, version 3.5, will be available in mid-November. The main improvements according to the company are related to speed: faster loading times for the homepage, smoother scrolling and faster loading times for important apps like Netflix, Hulu and Prime Video.