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Vizio gives you quality 4K on a budget, but you’ll need to work for it

Now that we’ve finally had a chance to check out Vizio’s P-Series 4K UHD TV in our controlled testing lab, we find ourselves in a bit of a quandary. While the TV offers a lot of performance for the price (Vizio’s hallmark, dontcha know) it requires a fair amount of tweaking to look its best. And since it’s sandwiched between the updated M-Series line and higher-performance Reference series, you have to ask: Is the P-Series relevant anymore?

Vizio has garnered plenty of press lately, but not all of it positive. Priced at only $1,000 for the 50-inch model and $2,500 for the 70-inch, Vizio’s P-Series made big waves at launch. But the company took some heat when the TVs hit store shelves and reviewers started complaining about artificially high sharpness levels that made the sets look fake. To Vizio’s credit, it was quick to address a “bug” in its processors with a firmware update in February, but as the saying goes: You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Vizio P Series

Since then, the P-Series has new competition in the high-value department, including from several models made by Vizio itself. The all-new M-Series sports 4K resolution at even lower prices, albeit with fewer zones of local dimming for the LED backlights. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Vizio’s Reference series, which adds in both high dynamic range (HDR) along with high color gamut — both expected to be part of the official UHD standard going forward. That said, Vizio claims the P-Series will not be abandoned; there will be a new version down the road, but not for some time.

So, back to the question at hand: Is this TV worth purchasing? If you want to go big with a new TV and you want to do it right now — no matter what’s coming down the pike in the next two years — then yes, absolutely, buy this TV. The source material for all the HDR and wide-color-gamut stuff the Reference series is built for isn’t going to be widely available for another year or more. And the significantly higher number of local dimming zones is a practical feature with clearly obvious benefits to black levels. Add in the fact that you’d be hard pressed to get more TV-bang-for-your-buck from any competing manufacturer, and the P-Series starts looking like a pretty smart call.

But if you can wait a year, some amazing things will be coming, and Vizio will be right there with its latest and greatest, likely steamrolling price barriers as it has always done.

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