For years I've been asking for a dumb TV. Vizio's 2016 E series is one step closer to the dumb dream.
One of the company's mainstream offerings for 2016, the E series follows Vizio's new smart TV design edict: Get rid of the onscreen smart TV menu system entirely, and replace it with Google Cast, the popular streaming platform exemplified by devices like the $35 Chromecast. Vizio is calling it SmartCast.
If you want to watch Netflix on the E series, for example, you'll have to use the Netflix app on your phone or tablet and "Cast" to the TV. The same goes for any other streaming app -- except the handful that aren't supported by Cast, notably Amazon Video (which was available on previous Vizio TVs). Don't have a phone or tablet handy in the living room all the time? Then either use a device like a Roku or Apple TV, or buy a different TV.
That's because, unlike the step-up P series and M series, the E doesn't include a free tablet remote, so you'll have to use your own device for SmartCasting. These TVs also depend on Vizio's SmartCast app (free for Android and iOS) for settings and other controls.
The E also comes with a standard remote control.
Pricing, size and availability information have been announced, and include sizes from 32 inches ($210) up to 70 ($1700). Most sizes offer a choice or 4K or 1080p resolution, and sizes above 40 inches offer local dimming. All are shipping "soon" according to Vizio.
Vizio E series features
- Full-array local dimming on 43-inch and larger
- 4K resolution available on most sizes
- Google Cast compatible
Local dimming should enable the E series to match the very good image quality of its predecessor, one of our favorite TVs from 2015. Of course I don't expect it to be as good as the M or P series, which have more zones and other image quality perks like HDR, but in past years the E has outperformed many budget and mainstream-priced LCD TVs that lack dimming entirely.
Other details include dual-band 082.11ac Wi-Fi, an HDMI cable in the box and a new design with a "textured bezel."
Here's how all the models break down.
Vizio E series 2016
|Model||Size||Price||Resolution||Dimming zones||Panel type||TV tuner|
I understand if the above table seems like an incoherent mess. Blame Vizio as well as me.
The main takeaways are that in most of the middle sizes (43 inch, 48-inch, 50-inch and 55-inch) you can choose between 4K or 1080p resolution. All else being equal I'd expect the two to perform about the same, making the extra price for 4K not really worth paying (especially since, at these screen sizes, the increase in resolution will be all but invisible).
The catch is that in the smaller sizes the 4K models have more local dimming zones, which should generally improve image quality. That said, I don't expect huge differences, and judging from past experience the 1080p sets still seem like the better choice. And if you're really prioritizing image quality, you should probably step up to the M series anyway.
Strangely, Vizio lists panel type ("VA") for a few of these models, but not all of them. I'll update those question marks when I get more information from Vizio.
Finally, the 4K models in this series lack a built-in TV tuner, so they can't receive local TV stations available via antenna/over-the-air broadcasts. In fact, lack of a tuner means they're not technically "TVs" anymore, which is why Vizio's web site calls them "Tuner-Free Displays." If you're someone who watches a lot of TV via antenna, rather than cable, satellite or streaming service, Vizio recommends you purchase a third-party tuner. The 1080p and 720p models, meanwhile, do include a tuner.