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Vizio M-Series vies to reclaim TV value crown, tablet not included

The successor to CNET's favorite midpriced TVs of last year are back for 2017 with a more traditional take on streaming apps -- and no tablet remote.

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
2 min read

Vizio TVs have had a great run recently in CNET's reviews, and the 2016 M series earned my 2016 Editors' Choice Award. It delivered the best picture quality for the money of any TV I tested last year.

Now its successor, the 2017 M series, is upon us. I haven't had the chance to review it yet but I expect it to once again compete for the designation of best TV for the buck.

Shop for Vizio M65-E0

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For 2017 Vizio made a few changes to the M series, and to me they sound like improvements. No longer does it include a touchscreen Android tablet remote in the box and ask you to use an app to access most TV settings. I wasn't a fan. Instead the 2017 M series comes with a traditional multibutton clicker, which you'll use to access traditional onscreen menus. Yay tradition!

For Smart TV you still have the option to Cast stuff like Netflix from your phone using Vizio's Chromecast built-in feature, which also allows control via the Google Home. New for 2017 there's also an onscreen menu, called Smartcast TV, that allows you to launch apps using the traditional onscreen approach (below). It's coming via software update later this year, although it still doesn't support Amazon video. Boo lack of Amazon, but you can always add a Roku.

Vizio M and P series TVs get real big-screen menus

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All of the sizes incorporate 32 zones of full-array local dimming, which contributed to its excellent picture last year. All of the 2016 models larger than 50 inches had 64 zones, however, so the 2017 sets above that size all have fewer zones. I'm curious to see how that difference affects image quality.

The company says it has improved light output and color for 2017, which might help improve HDR performance. It's also worth noting that all of the sizes use higher-performance VA panels, not the IPS panel found on the 55-inch version of the P series.

Otherwise the M series seems basically the same as 2016. And just like last year there's no built-in tuner, so you can't watch over-the-air antenna broadcasts unless you attach a separate tuner.

Competition is more fierce than ever, with pressure from higher-end brands like Sony with its X900E series, as well and from Chinese makers like TCL's P series and Hisense's H8D series. All of these models offer full-array local dimming and HDR compatibility for similar prices to the M series.

Here's pricing and basic specifications for the Vizio M series, which are shipping now. Note that Vizio originally announced longer model names, e.g. "M50-E1," but has since shortened them.

Vizio M series 2017

Model SizePrice
M50 50-inch$800
M55 55-inch$1,000
M65 65-inch$1,500
M70 70-inch$2,000
M75 75-inch$3,000

Vizio M series 2017 specifications

  • 4K resolution
  • HDR compatible with HDR10 and Dolby Vision formats
  • Full-array local dimming (32 zones)
  • 120Hz "effective" refresh rate
  • Chromecast built-in, Google Home compatible
  • Onscreen apps interface coming in summer 2017
  • No built-in tuner for antenna broadcasts

The company also announced the more expensive P series at the same time, and the cheaper E series and D series are shipping now as well.