Vizio M3D651SV review: Vizio's bargain 65-inch 3D leaves us feeling flat

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The Good The Vizio M3D651SV is one of the cheapest 65-inch 3D TVs available. Its picture offers a fair amount of contrast punch, colors are vibrant, and 3D is very good. There's a full complement of features including a QWERTY remote, and the Smart TV interface is responsive and simple to use.

The Bad The big screen is almost unbearably reflective in a bright room. The TV suffers from a blue cast that can't be corrected, and shadow detail is murky.

The Bottom Line The Vizio M3D651SV offers a lot of screen for comparatively little money, but unless you really want 3D, there are better big-screen values.

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6.3 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 6
  • Value 6

If you're looking to buy a TV with good bang-for-buck, then Vizio is often a good choice. The Vizio M3D550, for example, offers a picture that rivals that of the excellent Sony HX850, but for half the price. But despite having a similar name, the 65-inch M3D651SV doesn't share the 55-incher's giant-killing traits.

The 2D picture quality of the M3D651SV is inferior to TVs of a similar price and size. While color is acceptable, black levels aren't as good, shadow detail is slightly crushed, and the screen is one of the most reflective we've ever tested.

That said, the picture isn't terrible, and for people seeking 3D in a huge screen there are few other choices in this price range; the Samsung PN64E550 plasma is the closest worthy recommendation we've seen. For people who can live without 3D and don't want plasma, the 60- and 70-inch members of the Vizio E1i-A3 and Sharp LE640 series are better values.

A few of Vizio's TV's from late 2012 are undoubtedly the best-looking TVs the company has ever released, with very thin bezels and a decidedly non-budget finish. Sadly, the M3D651SV is not one of these.

The Vizio's bezel is piano-black and quite thick in comparison to many LCD TVs. The bottom of the Vizio's bezel is even thicker, although it holds a pair of front-firing speakers at either side but is also saddled with a weird piece of plastic in the middle. I once heard an LG designer describe his, quite frankly, ugly TV as "inspired by clouds"; if I was feeling similarly poetic about this Vizio, I could describe the middle protuberance as a "lamp sconce" or an "eyelash straightener."

Sarah Tew/CNET

The M3D651SV comes with the same "flipper" remote that my colleague David Katzmaier reviewed on models like the E601i-A3 and the E3D0VX. At the time, he mentioned the difficulty involved with having to point the remote at the screen when using the keyboard, but for the most part he liked it. I agree with him that the device could use a backlight, as while it is fairly logically arranged, there are a lot of buttons. Further, it's not as easy to control as many TV clickers.

Key TV features
Display technology LCD LED backlight Edge-lit with local dimming
Screen finish Glossy Remote QWERTY
Smart TV Yes Internet connection Built-in Wi-Fi
3D technology Passive 3D glasses included Four pairs
Refresh rate 120Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing Yes
DLNA-compliant Photo/Music/Video USB Photo/Music/Video

No matter the price point, Vizio tends to offer more features than do its competitors, and unlike the feature-rich but picture-poor output of many LED TVs we've tested this year, Vizio's add-ons are usually not to the detriment of performance.

The TV is an edge-lit LED with what Vizio claims uses local dimming. However, during my testing I saw little evidence that said dimming worked. It comes with a 240Hz refresh rate and dejudder processing for those who, unlike myself, want action that's smoother than James Bond walking away from an explosion while adjusting his cufflinks.

The M3D651SV comes with the usual gamut of Smart TV, peripherals, and 3D features. The QWERTY remote is a particular boon, especially as it's something that other manufacturers have shied away from in 2012.

Smart TV
One of the biggest problems facing Smart TV interfaces is that they can be slow to load. Vizio avoids this issue by offering a more basic interface that pops up like a news ticker and is almost instantaneous. Switching between apps is fairly seamless and doesn't distract from the program you are watching, unlike, say, the Samsung Smart TV with its busy interface and typically longer loading times.

The Smart TV interface appears along the bottom of the screen like a news ticker. Sarah Tew/CNET

Looking at the remote, you'll find buttons for Netflix, Amazon Instant, and a service called M-Go. While anyone interested in Smart TV should be familiar with how the first two services work, M-Go is yet to be launched. It's billed as providing "effortless entertainment through seamless access to your favorite movies, music, and television," but I'll have no idea what that means until I can test it.

For a look at all of the services the Vizio offers, check out our Smart TV comparison chart.

Picture setting
Vizio offers a crazy number of picture presets with its televisions: "Golf" mode, anyone? I've found it's usually best to stick with Cinema mode for most content, and historically this will give you the best picture. But as I found if you check the calibration notes, this mode had some obvious defects in dark areas, so I had to switch to Custom mode. While the two-part grayscale helped make the TV look less blue, the controls aren't as sophisticated as competitor LG's, for example. Vizio lacks both advanced Color Management System controls and selectable gamma.

The M3D651SV offers four HDMI ports, a component/composite input, PC connector, Ethernet, and two USB ports. There's also an 802.11n wireless adapter on board for connecting to the Internet.

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