Since the company was founded in California in 2002, VIZIO has joined the ranks of other highly renowned TV manufacturers. The M-Series rethinks what the word television means for people living in the 21st century, by removing the standard over-the-air tuner from the TV itself and replacing it with a built-in Chromecast support and a 6-inch tablet, which acts as a remote control using the VIZIO SmartCast app.
As such, TVs from this new generation are actually not TVs at all – they are displays. Displays that are ready to accept ultra-high definition content from your other devices. But that’s not the only thing that makes the M-Series so special. All models – starting at 50-inch and going up to 80-inch – feature Ultra HD resolution, high dynamic range, and full-array LED backlighting with up to 64 active LED zones.
The model we are taking a look at in this review is the M50-D1, which sells for a reasonably low price of $850. Apart from the screen size, all models are virtually identical, making the information in this article applicable to the other models in the series, as well.
(Note: we received a free review unit from Vizio in exchange for this honest review)
Design and Build
With the steady rise of OLED televisions and their razor-thin screens and ultra-slim bezels, manufacturers of LED TVs have to come up with truly remarkable designs to attract the attention of customers. The VIZIO certainly achieves this goal with the M-Series, which looks modern, representative, and elegant.
The durable body is made from high-quality plastic materials and stands on a pair of aluminum legs. The legs keep the TV well-balanced and create free space in the center for a sound bar. You just need to make sure that your TV stand is at least as wide as the TV itself. It’s best to have a few inches of extra space on each side, to prevent the TV from falling down in case you accidentally bump into it.
The M50-D1 is ready to be mounted on a wall, with all inputs and outputs being located on the side for convenient access. The controls are also tucked away on the left side and neatly hidden from view.
Picture and Audio Quality
Large models in the M-Series of Home Theater Displays, as VIZIO calls these televisions without tuners, have 64 active LED zones, but the one we reviewed had “only” 32 of them. Their purpose is to allow for precise adjustments of the backlight to increase contrast levels and display pure blacks. The effect is most noticeable when you watch the TV inside a dark room, but the overall picture uniformity is something that can be appreciated under all conditions.
One of the biggest selling points of the M-Series is the support for Dolby Vision, a High Dynamic Range (HDR) standard created to ensure an excellent level of image quality across the entire distribution chain. The problem is that it’s not just pixels that counts. Their quality is not one bit less important. So far, filmmakers were investing serious money, time, and energy into recording content that nobody would ever see in its full quality. Some part of the full color range would get lost during the post-production, another during the mastering stage, and further image quality degradation would be introduced by the TV itself.
This is no longer the case with Dolby Vision. All movies that meet the requirements of this standard have 12-bit color depth and up to 10,000 nits of brightness. Some of the largest content providers, such as Netflix and Vudu, support Dolby Vision and more will certainly come in the future. As a Dolby Vision compatible TV, the VIZIO M50-D1 displays movies and TV shows in their original quality.
You certainly won’t have to sit straight in from of the TV, as the VA panel gives very good viewing angles – no more arguments over who takes the best spot on the sofa. The only thing you might argue about with your spouse is which sports channel to put on.
The VIZIO M-Series uses an ultra-fast 240Hz effective refresh rate achieved with backlight scanning to minimize motion blur during fast-paced scenes. Car racing, a game of hockey, or an action movie all look fantastic and make you notice a lot more details than what you would on a regular TV.
Those of you who have large collections of Blu-ray disks and DVDs will be pleased to know that the TV handles scaling extremely well, making even regular fullHD content look great. But it would be foolish not to take advantage of the 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, HEVC H.265, and VP9 codec that allow you to stream 4K Ultra HD content over the internet, and HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0 standards for connecting next-gen UHD devices.
Even though the sound quality is pretty good right out of the box, VIZIO gives you three upgrade tiers to choose from: 5.1 sound bar system, 2.1 sound bar system, and 2.0 sound bar. The last option is perfect for small spaces and situations where audio quality isn’t all that important.
Android Tablet Smart Remote Control
Instead of a traditional infra-red remote, the M-Series comes with a 6-inch Android tablet with 720p resolution and 8GB of integrated storage. The tablet has a capable quad-core processor, support for 802.11ac Dual-Band Wi-Fi, microphone, and dual stereo speakers. It can be wirelessly charged using the provided magnetic dock.
While the tablet can be used as any other Android device, it’s main purpose is to take your straight to the Vizio SmartCast, which is the command center for the TV and also the place from where you can browse through TV shows, movies, and music.
The app’s homepage displays playback controls, includes switching inputs or adjusting the volume, and a huge catalog of content aggregated across multiple paid and free apps is just a few taps away. What’s nice about SmartCast is that it behaves just like a standard Android app. You can minimize it, run it alongside other apps, or use it on other Android and iOS devices. All you need to do is download it from the Play Store.
But perhaps most importantly, the display app has integrated Google Cast support, allowing you to mirror virtually anything displayed on your smartphone (Android and iOS) or Google Chrome web browser to your TV. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities, games, and other forms of entertainment.
How to Cast Content to the TV
Casting content to the TV is very easy, but the method varies depending on which device you want to cast from.
Smartphone or Tablet:
- Connect both devices to the same Wi-Fi network.
- Open a Google Cast-compatible app.
- Click on the Cast button to send the content to your VIZIO TV.
- Install the Google Chrome Browser on your computer
- Open it and install the Google Cast extension.
- Put your laptop and VIZIO TV on the same Wi-Fi network.
- Go to any website and click the Cast button.
- Fantastic picture quality
- Dolby Vision
- Effective upscaling
- Representative design
- Google Cast support
The VIZIO M50-D1 stands out for its ability to deliver an excellent picture quality for a relatively affordable price. The smart remote control that acts as a gateway to a limitless amount of content is very easy to get used to and so is the integrated support for Google Cast.