Skip to main content

Hands on: Vizio P-series

Vizio just elbowed into the running for Best TV of 2016 with a $999 model

Vizio first introduced its P-Series televisions in March 2015, but frankly, we wouldn’t blame you for not knowing that. They weren’t all that memorable. The P-Series was Vizio’s first 4K Ultra HD TV series, but just a few months after its introduction, Vizio came through with the M-Series, which also had 4K, along with even more premium features, for an even lower price. At the time, it was hard to figure out how the P-Series fit into Vizio’s grand plan.

Now we know.

Digital Trends got an early, up-close look at the new P-Series TV line — which Vizio officially introduced today — and we think it has what it takes to be one of the highest-rated TVs of the year.

Vizio — yes, Vizio — will be the TV brand to beat in 2016.

Vizio says the P-Series benefits from trickle-down technology originally developed for the company’s much more expensive Reference Series. That means 4K Ultra HD resolution, Dolby Vision HDR compatibility (with HDR10 support months away), and Wide Color Gamut. All of these combine for a TV ready to deliver the latest and greatest 4K Ultra HD content available from an array of sources, from Netflix to Ultra HD Blu-ray.

The P-Series all boast an attractive forward-facing design, with a minimalist logo, and a respectably thin, brushed aluminum bezel framing the display. But take a look at the TV’s profile, and it’s pretty clear these aren’t wafer-thin TVs. Turns out, that’s a very good thing, because it’s a sign of an advanced backlight system.

The P-Series uses 100 percent full-array backlighting with local dimming. In the larger 65- and 75-inch models you get 128 zones of local dimming, and 126 in the 50- and 55-inch models. What’s more, Vizio appears to have refined its local-dimming processing, because we spotted zero readily apparent LED backlight anomalies during the demonstration. One of the demo scenes showed a bright ring of swirling light on a jet-black background. Normally, this would create a halo of light around the ring’s bright edges. But as we looked at the center of the ring, we were hard pressed to see the tell-tale signs of bluish-gray that we normally see in LCD sets. This continued across the board with relatively challenging demo scenes — the P-Series contrast looks outstanding.

Stepping away from the picture quality for a moment, let’s talk about the P-series Smart TV interface: There’s isn’t one. Well, not in the traditional sense anyway. Vizio ditched its old Smart TV platform, which we never cared for, and replaced it with Google Cast. Yes, these TVs essentially have Chromecast built in, and they go even further than that. Each TV will come with 6-inch Android tablet included, running a straightforward version of Android Lollipop. A dedicated Vizio app, dubbed SmartCast, lets you do everything from changing picture settings, to cycling through inputs, and adjusting the volume — anything you’d do with a standard remote, and then some. Vizio has also announced that the new SmartCast functionality will eventually span across “displays, sound bars, and standalone speakers,” allowing users to control multiple Vizio components through the app.

The P-Series TVs do come with a traditional remote, but the tablet, with its wireless charging cradle and Bluetooth Low Energy pairing (much like NFC), is way more fun. You can also use the tablet to search for content you want to watch, find it on the services you subscribe to, then hit the go button to start watching.

To that end, in a partnership with Netflix, Vizio’s P-Series will be the first to support HDR content on Netflix, in Dolby Vision.  Vizio also has access to Vudu’s growing catalog of Ultra HD content in HDR, as well as Amazon Prime Video’s growing selection.

To be clear, this is not a full review. We haven’t had a chance to check color accuracy, for example, and we did feel like red colors seemed a little blown out in some scenes. But, our first impressions based on the hour or so that we did spend with these TVs has us believing firmly that Vizio — yes, Vizio — will be the TV brand to beat in 2016.

The P-Series’ picture performance levels appear to be on par with — and even ahead of — top-tier competition. And then there’s the pricing, which is, in typical Vizio style, super compelling. The 50-inch P50-C1 goes for $999, the 55-inch P55-C1 for $1299, the 65-inch P65-C1 is $1,999 and the 75-inch P75-C1 monster is just $3,799 – and you’ll find them exclusively, at least at first, at Best Buy stores.

We strongly suggest you go check them out for yourself, because we think Vizio is going to have Samsung and LG running this year, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the best TV of the year, ends up being one that you see right here.

Updated by Ryan Waniata at 3/22/2016 at 10:22 a.m. PST: Vizio has announced its new SmartCast functionality will span across multiple TVs and audio components.

Editors' Recommendations

Caleb Denison
Digital Trends Editor at Large Caleb Denison is a sought-after writer, speaker, and television correspondent with unmatched…
Samsung shows off the first two 77-inch QD-OLED 4K TVs at CES 2023
Samsung S95C QD-OLED 4K TV.

Samsung was the first company to show off a 4K TV based on QD-OLED technology at CES 2022, and now, at CES 2023 it has unveiled two new QD-OLED models -- the S95C Samsung OLED and S90C Samsung OLED -- and each will be available as 77-inch models. Both will also be offered in 55- and 65-inch sizes.  The news came one day after Samsung Display confirmed it would show its next-gen "QD-OLED 2023" panel at the show in a 77-inch size.

When QD-OLED-based TVs debuted in 2022, Samsung and Sony revealed the first two 4K TVs models within hours of each other: the Samsung S95B and the Sony A95K. Both TVs proved to be absolutely stunning in terms of picture quality, leaving our reviewer no choice but to award them a rare 10/10 rating. But the TVs themselves weren't especially large; only 55- and 65-inch sizes were introduced.

Read more
Samsung’s CES 2023 TVs get thinner, brighter, healthier, and better for gaming
Samsung 2022 QN900B 8K Neo QLED TV.

On display at CES 2023, Samsung's 2023 TV lineup is getting a wide variety of upgrades, including thinner designs, better sound systems, 4K cloud-based gaming, and some interesting health applications that the company is borrowing from its mobile division. Here's everything you need to know.
MicroLED gets smaller, more affordable
Samsung was an early promoter of microLED display tech, which uses tiny LED lights as individual pixels instead of using them as the backlight on an LCD-based TV (LED TV, mini-LED TV). Unfortunately, microLED TVs have tended to be huge (starting at 110 inches), expensive, and somewhat limited in resolution at smaller sizes.

The company's new Micro LED CX, at 76 inches, is its smallest yet, and Samsung promises it will also be the most affordable microLED TV ever released.

Read more
New Apple TV 4K tweaks the internals and the price
Apple TV 4K 2022.

Apple today announced a new version of Apple TV 4K. It's the third generation of what we consider to be the best streaming device you can buy, and Apple's not really messing with things too much. Same general design. Same general function. But the internals have been tweaked that allow this 2022 model (which follows the models released in September 2017 and May 2021) to work better with more TVs — and to allow for a little more flexibility in price.

Here are the big deals: There are now two versions of Apple TV 4K (or SKUs, for those of you who prefer inside-baseball terms). There's a model that's Wi-Fi only with 64GB of storage for $130, or a model with Wi-Fi and Ethernet with 128GB of storage for $150. For our money, we'd just go ahead and spend the extra $20.

Read more