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Vizio E series 2017 (43- to 55-inch) review: A solid value with Chromecast built-in, but its big brother is better

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The Good The "smartCast" Vizio E series incorporates the phone-centric Chromecast built-in system, with more apps and frequent updates than many dedicated smart TVs, as well as Google Home voice control.

The Bad The smaller members of the series have worse image quality than the big ones. Roku TVs are better for streaming apps. No built-in tuner.

The Bottom Line Although its Chromecast built-in system has some appeal, the smaller sizes in Vizio's E series ultimately fall short of competing budget sets.

Visit for details.

6.6 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6
  • Value 7

Usually the TVs in a particular "series" from a TV maker are pretty much the same, except for screen size. Vizio's 2017 E series is an exception.

Yes, every TV in Vizio's E series has the SmartCast system, a.k.a. "Chromecast built-in," which lets your phone stream video to the big screen and control a lot of functions. And for the phone-averse there's also an on-screen menu that uses the TV remote, complete with the Amazon Video access missing from Chromecast. SmartCast also allows the TVs to be controlled via voice using a Google Home speaker, which is pretty cool.

Once you scratch the surface, however, you'll find big differences between the E's. The smaller members of the series reviewed here exhibited worse picture quality than the larger ones (reviewed here) and as a result I don't recommend them as highly. 

At smaller screen sizes (55-inch and down) I think most people will be better off with a different budget TV instead, such as a Roku TV from TCL in the S405 series. They have a better smart TV system and similar image quality to the smaller E series sets. And if you want a superior picture in an affordable TV, go for the TCL P series.

PSA: The best E's are 60 inches and larger

I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 50-inch E50-E1 and the 65-inch E65-E0. Based on what I saw and know about the series, the 60-inch and larger models are significantly better than the others.

That's because the 43- and 50-inch sizes lack the local dimming that was so effective on the 65-inch size I tested. Meanwhile most of the smaller models use an IPS-based LCD panel, and the IPS panel on the 50-incher I tested delivers inferior image quality. Only the 60-inch and larger sizes that have the winning combination of local dimming and VA (non-IPS) LCD panels.

Here's how the entire series breaks down.

Vizio E series (2017)

Model Size Dimming zones HDR Clear action Panel Type CNET score
E43-E2 43 inches 0 No No IPS 6.6 (3 stars)
E50-E1 50 inches 0 No No IPS 6.6 (3 stars)
E50-E3 50 inches 0 No No VA 6.6 (3 stars)
E55-E1 55 inches 12 Yes 180 IPS 6.6 (3 stars)
E55-E2 55 inches 12 Yes 180 VA/IPS 6.6 (3 stars)
E60-E3 60 inches 10 Yes 180 VA 7.3 (3.5 stars)
E65-E0 65 inches 12 Yes 180 VA 7.3 (3.5 stars)
E65-E1 65 inches 12 Yes 180 VA 7.3 (3.5 stars)
E70-E3 70 inches 12 Yes 180 VA 7.3 (3.5 stars)
E75-E3 75 inches 14 Yes 180 VA 7.3 (3.5 stars)
E80-E3 80 inches 16 Yes 180 VA 7.3 (3.5 stars)

The better E TVs with local dimming have anywhere from 10 to 16 dimming zones. More local dimming zones generally equals better image quality, but I don't expect much difference between the models with 10 or 16 zones. 

Vizio says the E55-E2 may use either an IPS or a VA panel. Here's its statement: "[The E55-E2 will] start shipping with VA panels and then may move to IPS panel technology if demand increases.  It is difficult to say when the IPS panels will cut in, but your readers can use the following serial number prefix on the box to identify models with IPS panels. If the fourth digit of the serial number is a "J" or "7," that unit uses an IPS panel.  Ex. LWZJSEARxxxxxxx or LTM7SHARxxxxxxx. All other serial numbers will be units using VA panels.

My statement? The easiest thing is to stick to 60 inches and above.

Vizio E Series
Sarah Tew/CNET

Standard black frame, weird spindly legs

The frame around the screen is shiny, black and thin, so from the front it looks like almost all picture, while the cabinet is relatively thick seen from the side.

Rather than a pedestal stand the E series utilizes the same kind of splayed, spindly legs found on most TVs today. They're a bit, er, different looking, thanks to a pattern of triangle-shaped cutouts.

The 2017 E series comes with a new clicker with more buttons and capabilities, although its keypad is basically useless since the TV lacks a built-in tuner for antenna channels.

Vizio E Series
Sarah Tew/CNET

Chromecast built-in with on-screen menus too

For now the E series requires your phone to stream video from Netflix and others, but Vizio says the update that adds apps to an onscreen display, so you can stream without using your phone, is coming very soon. 

Just like a $35 Chromecast, the Vizio E can serve up Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and all the rest on the big screen using your phone as a "remote." Going into any supported app and hitting the Cast button reveals the Vizio TV as an option; select it and video from the app will play back on the TV. Easy peasy. It worked fine with Netflix (in 4K and HDR) and Vudu and YouTube (in 4K). Other apps I tried worked well too.

The biggest downside to the system is that Cast doesn't support Amazon Video directly. But that update adds an actual on-screen menu for Casting apps, and one of them is indeed Amazon. I got a chance to play with an early version for this review and it mostly worked as advertised -- and similar to on-screen displays found on competing Smart TVs.

David Katzmaier / CNET

Selecting the Smatcast "input" causes the new app home screen to appear, with icons for a handful of major apps along the bottom (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Crackle, iHeart Radio, Xumo, Vudu, Pluto, and "USB") as well as tiles for TV shows and movies along the top. Amazon and the others worked just as I expected, complete with 4K and HDR streaming where avalable. Unfortunately response times weren't the fastest and screens took a bit longer than I'd like to load, but in my book it's (a lot) better than nothing. In no way is it better than Roku, however.

You can still use Vizio's SmartCast app for iOS and Android to control settings like picture and sound modes, but you don't need it since the TV has on-screen settings menus too. I also found the app more stable to connect and use than before, and it worked flawlessly on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phone. The app also tries to surface content with "TV shows" and "Movies" sections, but most people will ignore those and go straight for the individual apps on their phones.

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