Update September 16, 2016: The information below is out of date. Please read the full review of the 2016 Vizio M series instead.
The successor to CNET's favorite LCD TV of 2015, Vizio's M series, is getting improved image quality chops and a revamped smart TV system that includes a tablet remote in the box.
The 2016 version of the M series is shipping now, available in sizes from 50 to 80 inches, and starts at $850.
The new M series packs many of the same features as the more-expensive P series, which scored very well in our review.
Vizio M series features
- Full-array local dimming with up to 64 zones
- HDR compatible with Dolby Vision support
- 4K resolution
- Includes free Android tablet remote (6-inch screen, 720p)
- Google Cast compatible
Those are some pretty impressive image-quality specifications. The M series halves the number of local dimming zones on the P series, but 64 is still an impressive number (more zones generally leads to improved image quality), and twice as many as the M had last year. Vizio says "up to" 64 zones; smaller sizes will have fewer zones.
HDR is another high-end picture enhancement new for 2016, and Vizio will support both formats, as it does with the P series. One difference between the P and the M is that the M series doesn't get the "Ultra Color Spectrum" feature, so I doubt its coverage of the P3 color space used for HDR will equal the P series'.
Just like the P series, the M does away with a traditional onscreen menu system in favor of the Google Cast feature and the Vizio SmartCast app. That means it too will lack native support for Amazon's streaming videos, including its 4K and HDR library. Amazon was the first with HDR streaming via the HDR10 format, and will offer Dolby Vision HDR later this year.
The M's "free 6-inch tablet" has 720p resolution instead of the 1080p found on the P series, as well as a slightly worse processor (quad-core, not octa-core) and less storage (8GB vs. 16GB). Otherwise they're very similar, and both include the slick wireless charging dock.
These TVs lack a built-in 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.
See my review of the P series for more details.
Here's how the models break down.
Vizio M series 2016
|Model||Size||Price||Dimming zones||Panel type|
According to Vizio's site, the 60-inch size in the series uses an IPS panel instead of VA. In previous testing we've preferred the image produced by VA panels overall, and we expect that to be the case this time around as well.
Vizio's has also announced a new 2016 version of the less expensive E series, which lacks HDR and the tablet remote.