The race to the bottom of 4K TV pricing is well underway, and as usual Vizio is leading the pack.
The value-focused TV maker was the first mainstream brand to break the $1000 barrier with last year's P series, and for 2015 it's bringing the cost of 4K resolution down even further. The new 2015 M series includes nine total sizes, ranging from the 43-inch set for $600 up to the 80-incher for $4000.
Aside from resolution, the 2015 M series seems almost identical to the 2014 M series TVs I liked so much last year. One big reason it performed so well in our reviews was thanks to its direct, local dimming backlight, which allows different areas of the screen to be brightened and darkened independently.
The 2015 version offers the same backlight technology with 32 dimmable zones in every size, aside from the 43-inch model which has 28 zones. Those zone counts are fewer than the 64 found on the P series (which remains on sale) but more than the E series models, which range from 5 to 16 zones depending on size. More zones general amounts to finer control of dimming.
Every size in the new M series uses the same full-array direct backlight technology, a contrast (get it?) to last year when the 80-inch model was edge-lit. Direct backlights often demonstrate improved uniformity compared with the edge-lit variety.
The LCD panel technology is also largely the same, aside from the 49-inch size which uses an IPS (in-plane switching) panel as opposed to the VA panel used by the other sizes. In my experience, for example with the P series, IPS panels exhibit worse contrast and overall picture quality due to their lighter black levels.
The 60-inch and larger M series TVs have a "240Hz effective refresh rate" spec, while the smaller models all have a "120Hz effective refresh rate" spec. Since there are no native 240Hz 4K TVs, Vizio has confirmed that those "effective"s indicate that the smaller sets have 60Hz panels while the larger ones have 120Hz panels, and backlight scanning is somehow responsible for the doubled Hz numbers. It's the same kind of fake refresh rate trickery Vizio and LG have been employing for years. All sizes allow smoothing MEMC processing, otherwise known as the Soap Opera Effect.
Just like the P series from 2014, the M series will have five HDMI ports that can accept 4K sources, but only one will be HDMI 2.0 compatible and able to accept 4K sources at 60 frames per second. Meanwhile three of the five will offer HDCP 2.2 copy protection. The M series can stream 4K from Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, like all major-name 4K sets, and also has an app for UltraFlix.
Like its predecessor, the 2015 M series offers a dual-sided remote with the usual array of keys on one side and a full QWERTY keyboard on the other. Its Smart TV suite is pretty much the same as well.
The styling between the 2014 and 2015 M series sets is very similar, aside from the stands. Vizio says the new, two-legged stand is more stable than its pedestal predecessor, improving tip resistance especially to downward pressure along the edge.
Here's the full lineup:
|M80-C3||80-inch||Later in 2015||$3,999|
|M75-C1||75-inch||Later in 2015||$2,999|
We look forward to reviewing the new M series soon.