Vizio has been around for a while now, and though it started as a budget brand it has been making some small steps toward improving its image, and with the new M series the improvement is literal. The M-Series is inarguably the best-looking TV the company has produced, with a barely there bezel and subtle design elements.
The picture the TV can produce is also impressive for its price, with excellent shadow detail and fairly deep blacks, and making it worth the extra money over Vizio's entry-level E-Series for more natural image quality. Local dimming for the price of a nondimming set is nothing to scoff at. Meanwhile, color performance offers up a little bit too much red, but otherwise the Vizio displays a full, rich color palette.
With its new M-Series, Vizio has shown that it is determined to deliver a good-looking TV with unexpected performance for the price. If you need a large screen with design and picture smarts, the Vizio M551d-A2R and M501d-A2R offer compelling combinations.
While the picture doesn't pop as much as the cheaper E-Series, the M-Series is much more accurate for it. The new E-Series firmware (review forthcoming) has a tendency to crush shadow detail in return for darker blacks, but the M-Series is able to retrieve most of that missing detail. Thanks to the local-dimming system the M551d-A2R is able to provide a happy compromise between deep black and shadow detail. The downside is that dark scenes with white highlights don't have as much pop as on a plasma like the Panasonic TC-P50S60 or nondimming TVs. Colors are bright and saturated, though possibly a little too saturated, but better than the sickly looking flesh tones of the E-Series.