The best picture quality money can buy comes from an LG or Sony OLED, but the smartest TV purchase you can make right now is courtesy of – drumroll please – Vizio. If you’re surprised, I don’t blame you, but you shouldn’t be. Vizio isn’t just a cheap Costco brand, although its TVs are inexpensive and often found in Costco and Sam’s Club. The company has been upping its quality quotient for years now and, as far as I’m concerned, its top-tier TVs are right up there with Samsung, Sony, and LG. The proof is in the P-Series Quantum, Vizio’s flagship TV, reviewed here.
Out of the box
You know you are getting into something special the moment you remove the P-Series Quantum from its box. For a TV with a full-array local dimming backlight system, the Quantum offers an impressively thin profile. From the front, the TV’s bezel borders on invisible, with sleek metal accents along the side. The TV’s die-cast aluminum legs avoid the cheap-looking peel-away chrome finish we’ve seen with many budget sets over the past year or so. Even the Vizio badge has been shrunk down to a tiny “V” and is tucked away into the lower-right corner.
As for the remote? Well, let’s just say the design isn’t nearly as memorable as the TV’s. I do like the remote’s feel – the grippy, matte-black silicone finish is pleasant to the touch – but it’s otherwise pedestrian. Perhaps using Samsung’s much sleeker, minimalist remotes has spoiled me. It’s worth pointing out as well that Vizio has a Smart Cast app for controlling the TV using a mobile device.
The ins and outs
The P-Series Quantum is outfitted with five HDMI inputs, two approached from the side and three from the bottom. Take note that HDMI inputs 1-4 are HDMI v2.0 with HDCP 2.2, while No. 5 is HDMI v1.4 with HDCP 2.2. Tagging along with the HDMI jacks are all hard-composite and component video connections, no adapter cables required. Also found in the conveniently recessed connection bay is an Ethernet port, coaxial cable connector, analog audio jacks, optical digital audio out, ARC via HDMI 1, and a USB port you can opt to leave powered on all the time or shut off with the TV – this is a boon to streaming stick users who don’t want to wait for their device to power up every time they turn on their TV.
Under the hood, there’s quite a bit going on. The full-array local dimming backlight system is broken down into 192 zones, which holds the promise of better black levels and less “blooming” around bright objects. The P-Series Quantum claims to be able to achieve 2,000 nits peak brightness, which is in service of supporting Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG content. Picture processing, including upscaling non-Ultra HD resolution content to look best on the 3840 x 2160-pixel screen, is handled by Vizio’s so-called V8 Octa-Core Processor and Spatial Scaling Engine. If there’s one area in which I was looking for the P-Series Quantum to falter, it was with this processing system. Turns out, I came away from the review mostly impressed.
Quantum dots are what put the Quantum in the TV’s name and they also serve to expand its color gamut and heighten both color and white brightness. By adding a sheet of Quantum Dots – much in the same way Samsung does with its QLED TVs – the panel’s color filters don’t have to work so hard and light intensity is preserved. It sounds like a bunch of voodoo, but this is science and it has a big impact on the TV’s picture quality.
Also featured with this TV is Vizio’s SmartCast smart TV system, with Chromecast built in along with Amazon Alexa and Google Home voice assistant compatibility. Apple’s Siri is also on its way to this TV later this year, and while you can’t speak directly to the TV, you can use a smart speaker to control basic functions like turning the TV on and off, changing inputs, turning mute on/off, and adjusting volume. That’s just some of the Alexa-compatible functions. Google Assistant and Siri offer more on-screen content integration by allowing content searches for YouTube and Netflix and displaying information like the weather forecast.
Smart TVs have gotten increasingly easy to set up over the past few years. Sure, you still have to take the time to input usernames and passwords for your favorite streaming apps, and smart speaker integration might add a few steps to the process, but most premium TVs today come with a quick setup wizard and one or two solid picture presets that can have you up and running in no time. Vizio’s P-Series Quantum is no exception.
During my setup, I did run into an odd issue which Vizio claims is not the norm, but since it happened once, I must assume it could happen again so I’ll explain it here in hopes it will prevent premature re-boxing and return of a TV.
Once connected to the internet, the Quantum will require a firmware update that takes several minutes to complete. That part is normal. What wasn’t normal in my instance is that after the firmware update was downloaded, the TV shut off to complete the process and while normally it’s a matter of seconds before a TV powers back on, my review sample took nearly 15 minutes before I could turn it on manually. For a moment, I thought the TV was bricked and a long, drawn-out call to tech support was in my future. Turns out, I just needed to wait a while. Again, Vizio says this is not an issue it is hearing about from its customers, but if this does happen to you, be patient. Your TV should be good to go before too long.
Vizio also has this awesome Game Low Latency setting that can be turned on in any picture setting.
You can also expect to see some interesting opt-in messages from Vizio before being allowed to proceed with watching TV. These are required disclosures, and if you don’t want the TV to collect anonymous viewing data, you don’t have to. Vizio says that viewing data is sort of like a digital Nielson ratings and stresses it is anonymous.
Also, take note that if you connect an antenna for free over-the-air TV reception, you can expect a seriously long channel-scanning process. What took my Samsung Q9F about 45 seconds to complete took the P-Series Quantum over 5 minutes. Fortunately, most folks only need to do this once or twice over the life of the TV.
One all that is done, I highly recommend the use of either the Calibrated picture setting or the Calibrated Dark Room setting. As the names imply, these settings are intended to reproduce images which fall in line with the standards content creators use when producing movies and TV shows, with the former best used in rooms with any significant ambient light, and the latter best for dedicated dark rooms.
In addition to Vizio’s Game picture preset, Vizio also has this awesome Game Low Latency setting that can be turned on in any picture setting. My suggestion would be to use Calibrated mode with the setting turned on — you’ll get down to about 27ms lag this way — but if you use HDMI 5, that will drop significantly to about 15ms. It’s important to note, however, that HDMI 5 is an HDMI 1.4 input and not suitable for 4K/60p content, so keep that in mind if you are using an Xbox One S or X, a PlayStation 4 Pro, or a 4K PC rig — you can drop the lag a little more, but you’ll give up on 4K resolution for your gaming.
SmartCast – better, but not perfect
The best thing going for the Quantum’s smart TV system is its built-in Chromecast capabilities. Finding content on mobile devices or a PC and casting them to the TV is a great way to get to what you want to watch. Outside of that, I’ll say SmartCast is much better than it has been in the past, but it still runs a little slow and feels a bit clunkier than, say, a Roku or Amazon Fire TV device.
Still, I’m going to back off from having historically suggested that one not use the built-in SmartCast system at all and instead say I think the system is useable. Roku and Fire TV devices are better, but SmartCast gets the job done and not hooking up another set-top box or streaming stick keeps an HDMI port free for something else.
Picture quality and viewing experience
The P-Series Quantum’s picture quality is, overall, outstanding. This is easily one of the best LED/LCD TVs I’ve tested this year, which is saying something considering the set’s price tag, which currently hovers somewhere between $1,500 -$1,700. That’s about the same price as a 55-inch LG C8 OLED, which does look better thanks to perfect black levels and spot-on color, but for the money, the Quantum delivers a much larger 65-inch screen, impressive black levels, and incredible brightness, all of which lead to excellent HDR performance.
I was particularly impressed with the Quantum’s screen uniformity. I got no hint of dirty screen effect, and the TV’s backlight system has remarkably effective local dimming. The Quantum is not immune to blooming, though. We saw a fair amount of blooming around bright objects on dark backgrounds (turn on closed captions on a letterboxed movie to see what we mean) using the stock Calibrated and Calibrated Dark picture modes. This can be mitigated by turning the “Xtreme Black Engine Pro” setting to high but doing so makes the local dimming’s actions very easy to see, which I find too distracting to put up with.
The P-Series Quantum’s picture quality is, overall, outstanding.
Right out of the box, color accuracy was just the slightest bit off, with some red hues looking a little overblown, and an especially warm color temperature overall. A calibrator can easily fix this, but it’s hard to imagine someone spending $1,500 on a TV, then rushing out to spend a fair chunk more on a calibration. I will say that viewers less scrutinizing than I am will probably be thrilled with the Quantum’s color performance in Calibrated or Calibrated Dark mode.
Picture processing here is far better than I was expecting. The P-Series Quantum has great motion resolution and can handle a 24 FPS movie with impressive cadence. Judder is at a minimum here, and 30 or 60 FPS content looked fantastic. I’m a big fan of how this TV stands up against the likes of LG and Samsung, and while Sony still has the market cornered on processing, the Quantum gets remarkably close.
Finally, I wanted to address an issue I have seen discussed in A/V forums about the P-Series Quantum’s upscaling prowess when handling 720p/1080i content. Unfortunately, the lion’s share of content delivered via cable and satellite is still done so at this lower resolution, which asks a lot of any TV’s upscaling system. It’s one thing to get 720p bumped up to 1080p HD, but getting 720p up to 2160p is a pretty hardcore task and I don’t think any 4K TV I’ve reviewed lately does an especially great job with it. Cable and satellite stuff just can’t hold a candle to the quality you get from, say, Netflix in HD.
It’s hard to rank the P-Series Quantum sample I got against its competitors when the bar is set so low to begin with. Yeah, cable content didn’t look anywhere near as good as Netflix in HD or 4K, and nothing really holds a candle to Ultra HD Blu-ray, but the P-Series Quantum does a respectable enough job of, well, polishing a turd, for lack of a better expression.
Vizio offers a 1-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship when the product is used “normally in accordance with Vizio’s user guides and manuals.” You’ll find more on Vizio’s warranty here.Our Take
Vizio’s P-Series Quantum is everything one should expect from a premium TV, but at a far more approachable price than competing TVs with similar performance, making it one of the best LED/LCD TVs you can buy this year and a strong alternative to OLED TVs.
Is there a better alternative?
Not at this price, no. In order to get picture performance this strong, one will have to step down in size and pick up an LG C8 OLED for about the same price or pony up quite a bit more for a similarly sized Samsung Q9FN or a Sony X900F.
How long will it last?
This is an especially important question, and unfortunately, it is difficult to answer. If there’s one lingering concern about Vizio’s TVs, it’s over product consistency with longevity – in a nutshell, quality assurance. While thousands of customers have no troubles with their sets, I’ve personally had issues with the various Vizio TVs I’ve purchased or installed for others. My hope is that the premium performance of the P-Series Quantum is an indication of its build quality, but since review samples are hand-selected for reviewers and this TV hasn’t been around too long, only time will tell.
Should you buy it?
Yes. If you crave the kind of picture quality you would expect from an LG or Sony OLED, a Samsung QLED, or one of Sony’s top-tier TVs, the P-Series Quantum offers something very close to its competition at a fraction of the price. For my money, this is the smartest buy in TV right now.