Vizio: We've made the best TV in the world

/ Updated: April 22, 2015 5:16 PM PDT

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TV makers routinely boast about picture quality, but when a claim like "Best TV in the World" comes from a company like Vizio -- best known for its bargain boob tubes -- it seems especially far-fetched.

The television in question is the Vizio Reference Series. That claim was first made at Vizio's CES 2014 showcase 15 months ago, but the TV never shipped.

Now the latest update from Vizio says the Reference series will arrive by the end of 2015. Pricing has not been announced. Vizio's website originally listed a $4,000 price for the 65-inch version, but that was apparently a mistake, and the pricing has since been pulled. The bombastic language remains.

CNET's David Katzmaier (left) and Ty Pendlebury with a 120-inch Reference Series at CES 2014. Sarah Tew/CNET

The same dudes with the same TV 15 months later, at a more casual event. Different plants, too. Sarah Tew/CNET

When they do finally arrive, they will apparently be the first TVs with Dolby Vision HDR. The demos we've seen of Dolby Vision on the Reference series, both at CES 2014 and 15 months later, in spring 2015, have been impressive.

So are the TV's specifications. It comes in one resolution, 4K, and two sizes: the 65-inch RS65, and the 120-inch RS120. Its HDR is powered by a full-array local dimming backlight with 384 zones and reaches a peak brightness of 800 nits. Vizio touts its wider color gamut but doesn't say exactly how wide, which is a step down of sorts from its initial claim that the set could approach Rec 2020 color. Gamers will appreciate that the set can display 120-frame-per-second content (currently available only from PCs) with "low latency."

The 65-inch Vizio Reference series. Sarah Tew/CNET

By comparison, the Samsung JS9500, another HDR-capable TV, is said to hit 1,000 nits peak brightness. It has an undisclosed number of full-array local dimming zones and delivers 93 to 95 percent of the P3 color gamut. It's a curved TV (the R series is flat) and has the distinct advantage of actually shipping now, starting at $6,000 for the 65-inch model. It's also worth noting that Samsung's current marketing makes no mention of Dolby Vision or HDR, instead branding its version of HDR as "Peak Illuminator."

Titles enhanced by Dolby Vision will be delivered to the Reference series via Wal-Mart's Vudu streaming service, and an initial slate of titles will be available to R series buyers. Those exact titles were not confirmed, but Dolby says Warner Brothers titles "Edge of Tomorrow," "Into the Storm," "The Lego Movie," "Man of Steel," "Sherlock Holmes" and "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," all use 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision technology. No non-Warner titles have been announced yet.

Unlike Sony's, this big speaker will be detachable. Sarah Tew/CNET

Beyond its picture, the Reference series has some unique sound features that differ by size. In the 120-inch version, there won't be any speakers it all, because Vizio figures a buyer well-heeled enough to spring for the massive TV will use a dedicated sound system instead. The 65-inch model meanwhile includes a detachable sound bar, a pair of surround speakers and a subwoofer, with audio performance Vizio says will outclass any TV (didja hear that, big-speaker Sonys?).

We'll update this article once Vizio releases additional details on the Reference series.

Editors' note April 22, 2015: A version of this article originally appeared during CNET's CES coverage in January 2014. It has been updated to reflect the latest information from Vizio.

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