Vizio made some of our favorite TVs of 2016, and now its first 2017 models are on the way.
First out of the gate is the 2017 E series. Available in sizes from 32 inches to 80 inches, it offers most of the latest picture quality features for budget prices. Those include 4K resolution and high-dynamic range (HDR) in most sizes, along with the full-array local dimming I liked so much on the 2016 models.
I didn't like Vizio's SmartCast system, however, especially on models like the E series that don't include a tablet remote.
Here's a look at all the models Vizio has announced so far.
In my review of the 2016 E series I lauded the TVs' image quality for the price, and I expect similar good things from these sets -- at least the ones with full-array local dimming, a technology that allows the screen to dim in different areas to enhance contrast. Vizio hasn't specified which of the above models have dimming.
New for 2017 is the inclusion of HDR, which promises even better quality when connected to HDR-capable devices like 4K Blu-ray players, game consoles and video streamers (Vizio recently added HDR to select 2016 E series TVs via a firmware update). Unlike higher-end 2016 Vizio sets in the M series and P series, the E uses the HDR10, not the Dolby Vision format.
My biggest complaint with last year's E series centered around Vizio's SmartCast system (aka "Chromecast built in"), which forces you to use an app on your phone for TV setup and Smart TV streaming. It's not nearly as convenient as a traditional onscreen menu system. Hey, at least it doesn't spy on you.
The E series most immediate competitors include Roku TVs by TCL, which failed to match the E series image quality last year. That could change in 2017, when TCL will debut Roku TVs in its own P series that include local dimming as well as HDR (including Dolby Vision), starting at $500 for the 50-inch size.
I've asked Vizio for more details on the 2017 E series, covering the number of dimming zones, IPS vs. VA panels, and refresh rates. I'll update this article when I get it.