We take our first look at Vizio’s 4K/Ultra HD P-Series televisions, starting at $1,000

vizio 4kultra hd televisions announced start at 1000 p series
Vizio today officially announced pricing and availability on its 4K/Ultra HD P-Series televisions, and the news is sending shockwaves through the consumer electronics industry.

The company’s first effort at an Ultra HD TV lineup starts with a 50-inch model at $1,000 and tops out with a 70-inch monster going for $2,500. Each year, Vizio aims to disrupt the market by introducing high-performance televisions that sell at unprecedentedly low prices. With its P-Series, Vizio has outdone itself, bringing what many still consider to be a fledgling technology to the masses far earlier than was anticipated, even as recently as this past January, when the company first showcased its P-Series prototypes at CES 2014.

Updated on 9-24-2014 by Jeffrey Van Camp: We had a chance to see the new TVs in person. My first impressions are now added below.

Extremely low pricing is frequently associated with lower product quality — and for good reason —  so, without seeing Vizio’s new wares in person, it might be easy to assume they won’t stack up well against premium, tier-1 competition from the likes of Samsung, Sony, and LG.

Included in the list of the P-series’ impressive specs are a quad-core processor for quick navigation and app loading, HEVC (h.265) decoding for 4K/Ultra HD streaming from services like Netflix, the forthcoming 4K Amazon Prime Instant offerings, Ultraflix, and, soon, even more services. The TVs will also come equipped with HDMI version 2.0 for Ultra HD resolution at up to 60 frames per second, and HDCP 2.2 for future DRM (digital rights management) compliance — in other words, they’ll be ready for 4K Blu-ray discs and players when they come available later next year.

Perhaps the most impressive specification featured in all of Vizio’s televisions (sized 32 inches and larger, including the high-value E-series and premium M-series) is full-array direct LED backlighting, with varying degrees of local dimming capability. While mounting LED lights along the edges of LCD TVs allow for extreme thinness, the practice comes with significant sacrifices to picture quality, most notably “bleeding” at the edges of the screen, and poor uniformity of brightness across the panel. By placing an array of LED lights directly behind an LCD panel, the bleeding effect is mitigated, and screen uniformity is vastly improved. Meanwhile, local dimming allows specific zones of these LED arrays to be controlled (dimmed) to achieve better black levels (and therefore, contrast), improving overall picture quality significantly.

For example: Let’s say you have a big bright sun or star in the middle of an otherwise black-as-night scene. You would only want the LEDs in the middle (where the sun is) to be cranked up. The rest of the LED backlights you’d want to turn off almost entirely to get the best possible blacks, so it looked like dark space, not a dirty gray blanket. As Vizio’s best for 2014, the P-series tops out with 72 active zones of dimming, allowing very precise backlight control.

Eyes on with the P Series (By Jeff)

In person, the TVs appear to deliver — mostly. We saw the whole lineup in action in New York, where Vizio put its 65-inch P Series head to head against the 65-inch model from the Samsung 8500 series, both with the same settings turned on. Vizio noticeably outpaced Samsung in these demonstrations, but more importantly, its picture quality looked very good, especially considering the price. Motion on the P Series has much less blur than we’re used to, and the local dimming zones (there are 64 in the 65-inch and more/less depending on the size of the model) give a brighter, more detailed image across the whole screen. Scenes from The Hobbit were shown off and had beautiful depth on Vizio’s screen.


Blacks were surprisingly deep for a non-plasma TV as well, and were most noticeable when watching letterboxed movies — a common thing these days. Vizio’s 1080p upscaling is also impressive, showing a lot of sharp detail. For example, I have seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (both parts) a few times before, but some of the details picked up by the 4K upscaling was enlightening. Did you know that Daniel Radcliffe sweats a lot during filming? I never noticed before.

On the downside, because of the emphasis on image quality and price, these are not the thinnest LED TVs by a long shot. They popped out several inches from the wall. It’s a small sacrifice for a good image, in our opinion, but you’ll have to make up your own mind. On top of that, the interface of the TV was sluggish and low-res — not what you’d expect from a quad-core processor and 4K display. Poor interfaces are, sadly, the norm so it doesn’t ruin the TV, but don’t expect to throw out your set-top box or Chromecast any time soon.

Vizio moving up the ladder

This latest news further cements Vizio’s move up the ladder from tier-2 manufacturer to tier-1 — from “Costco brand” to industry leader. Just a few short months ago, consumers and media alike were complaining that 4K/Ultra HD televisions were too new a technology to be taken seriously, but with so much 4K content on its way and prices on high-quality 4K/Ultra HD televisions clearly on their way down, perhaps public opinion will soon turn the corner.

Find a full listing of the P-Series with pricing below (prices are MSRP):

Home Theater

TV calibration 101: Here's how to tune up the picture of your new TV

You’ve got your new TV out of the box, but now what? Our TV picture adjustment guide takes you through the simple steps to get the best picture from your brand new TV so you can set it and forget it.
Home Theater

These TVs might cost less than $1,000, but they certainly don’t perform like it

Check out our picks for the best TVs under $1,000 to enjoy top-shelf features like 4K Ultra HD, High Dynamic Range, and gorgeous image processing. Park yourself here to find the absolute best values in TV land.

Time to upgrade! Here are the best 4K TV deals for August 2018

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level so you can enjoy all of your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Home Theater

How to make your TV squeaky clean for not much green

Not sure how to clean the LCD, OLED, or plasma display that's the cornerstone of your living room? You don't need to buy expensive cleaning solutions to clean your TV -- we'll teach you how to do it with simple household items.
Home Theater

Want to save your favorite film? Here's how to fix a scratched DVD or CD

A scratched edition of your favorite DVD is no good, but our guide will show you how to fix a scratched DVD, whether you prefer to repair it using a smattering of peanut butter or Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser.
Home Theater

Samsung’s Harman buyout could prove its worth in new Dolby Atmos soundbars

In 2017, Samsung bought out audio powerhouse brand Harman, which itself owns a ton of major audio brands. Now it seems that purchase may be paying off, as Samsung is launching two impressive-looking new Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbars.
Movies & TV

David Harbour is 'taking risks' with Jim Hopper in 'Stranger Things' season 3

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.
Home Theater

Let your vinyl sound even better with one of the best phono preamps

Whether you're looking for a quick fix to set up your first turntable or a long-term audio upgrade for higher-quality sound, here are the best phono preamps you can buy that won't empty out your wallet.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best wireless earbuds around.
Home Theater

From game consoles to high-grade spinners, these are the best Blu-ray players

Streaming may be popular, but the disc isn't dead yet! To get the very best picture and sound quality from your system, you need to be watching Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Here are the best Blu-ray players you can buy right now.
Home Theater

MicroLED vs. OLED: Two hot TV technologies battle for your dollars

Samsung claims its new MicroLED TV tech offers all the benefits of OLED without the drawbacks. Join Digital Trends to take a close look to see if MicroLED TV lives up to the hype, and where it could go in the future.
Home Theater

Don’t cash in that 401(k)! These are the best TVs you can get for under $500

These days, $500 can get you a pretty nice TV. Still, sorting through thousands of options online can be both boring and overwhelming, so we've put together a quick guide to the best TVs under $500.
Home Theater

How to buy speakers: A beginner’s guide to home audio

From the difference between bookshelf speakers and monitors to the proper way to audition, our ultimate speaker buying guide has all the information you need to create your own home audio nirvana.