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Vizio serves up TVs with quantum dots and Apple AirPlay at CES 2019

The value-centric TV maker has four new lines of TVs and a revamped SmartCast system that plays well with your iPhone.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Vizio makes some of the best-reviewed TVs at CNET, but typically it doesn't reveal details on news ones until April or so. At CES 2019, it gave us the full reveal, and it's a doozy.

Vizio showed off four all-new lineups of 4K HDR TVs with Dolby Vision and local dimming, a combination of features that earned it solid marks in 2018. For 2019 the company has migrated quantum dot color down to more affordable levels, bumped up the brightness and dimming zones on step-up sets, and used the word "Quantum" with shocking profligacy.

It also said its Smart TV system would be the first on the market to support all three voice assistants -- Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and, coming this spring, Apple's Siri. 

Hello, AirPlay and HomeKit

Before I get into all the TV hardware, let me tell you about Vizio and Apple's demo of the AirPlay 2 and HomeKit functionality coming soon to Vizio TVs -- and others later this year. AirPlay 2 basically works just like the same feature on an Apple TV box, letting the TV function as a display for TV shows, movies, photos and web pages with an iPhone, iPad or Mac as the controller. 

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Vizio's SmartCast screen gets an AirPlay icon.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The demonstrator gave us a tour by activating the AirPlay function on her iPhone. Instantly a show began playing in Dolby Vision on the Vizio TV across the room. She invoked Siri on the phone to play another title on the TV and the show switched and began playing. She played music via the TV's speakers using the phone as a controller in both the main demo area and a second TV across the room, party-mode style (complete with playback controls on the TV). Photos from the iPhone came up on the TV screen as well, as did the phone's screen itself in mirroring mode.

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Soon your iPhone will play nice with Vizio TVs.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The basic idea is very similar to what Vizio TVs have done for the last couple years with Google's Cast function, but for Apple fans used to AirPlay it's a nice addition. It's not the full iTunes TV Shows and Movies app found on Samsung's 2019 Apple integration, however -- there's no on-screen functionality and all the control happens via your iOS device or Mac.

Vizio also mentioned other improvements to its SmartCast suite, including faster response time (addressing one of my major complaints). Vizio's new software will roll out to all of its SmartCast TVs, going back to 2016, starting in spring.

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Vizio's 85-inch P-Series Quantum X, a size that may (or may not) ship in 2019.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Quite a lot of Quantums

Unlike Samsung, Sony, LG and even TCL, Vizio didn't announce any TVs with 8K resolution. But it seemingly made up for the lack in 4K volume. Here's the rundown, which includes three series that employ the Q word.

V-Series: These entry-level sets are the spiritual successors to the cheapest home theater-worthy TVs of 2018, the E-Series. Available in sizes from 40 to 75 inches, it offers up to 16 zones of local dimming, 400 nits peak light output and Vizio's now-standard 4K resolution with HDR10 and Dolby Vision compatibility. Vizio says some sizes will get IPS screens, but didn't specify which ones. If you're keeping track, there won't be an E-Series in 2019, and the D-Series is relegated to "full HD" (1080p) and not 4K.

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M-Series Quantium: Representing the biggest improvement over 2018's version, these sets now include quantum dots for improved color -- a big weakness of the earlier sets. They range from 43 to 65 inches and have up to 90 zones of local dimming and 600 nits peak light output.

P-Series Quantum: Our favorite high-performance LCD of 2018 shared this name, and the 2019 version keeps the quantum dots but isn't as bright. Its 1,000 nits peak brightness is more in line with the non-Quantum P-Series of 2018, so I wouldn't be surprised if it was priced in the same ballpark (currently $1,200 for the 65-inch). It improves on the M-Series Quantum with a 120Hz refresh rate and up to 240 dimming zones, and comes in 65- and 75-inch sizes.

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The P-Series Quantum X has a searing 2,900 nits peak brightness and black levels that "rival OLED" according to Vizio.

Sarah Tew/CNET

P-Series Quantum X: The true successor of the superb 2018 P-Series Quantum, the X is even brighter and comes in both 65- and 75-inch sizes. Vizio showed an 85-inch size as well, but didn't commit to actually selling it in 2019. The PQX series has Vizio's best specifications yet: a searing 2,900 nits peak brightness, 384 dimming zones on the 65-inch size and 480 on the 75-inch. Vizio makes the lofty claim of "black levels that rival OLED." We'll see.

Pricing was not announced on any of the Vizio TVs, and the first models ship in spring.

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