If you're looking for the best picture you can afford, and you can't afford an, Vizio's P-Series deserves a spot on your list.
It's much cheaper than similarly excellent sets such as theand , and while it doesn't have their design chops or brand cachet, its image quality is just as good. I don't expect it to match the , mind you, but that thing costs as much as those "S" TVs and almost as much as .
The main question is whether the (non-Quantum) P-Series reviewed here is worth the extra money -- currently a couple hundred bucks -- overor . My answer is no, it's not.
In another year, among weaker competitors, the P's superb picture could well have been my favorite among LCD TVs. If you're splitting hairs and squinting for image quality differences, it's a tad better than the M-Series with better black levels and contrast, and less blooming thanks to lots of dimming zones.
Overall, however, the TCL 6 series is simply better than the P. Between the two, panel design is a toss-up while the remote and smart TV menus are a solid win for TCL, thanks to its Roku TV system. In my direct picture quality comparisons, the P-Series lost more points than it won against the TCL, especially with. The two were close enough, however, that some viewers, particularly those who value a and the superior video processing that goes with it, will prefer the P at 55- and 65 inches (the 75-inch TCL has a 120Hz panel).
The P-Series is still a great choice if you don't want to pay extra for an "S" brand, but it's tough for most viewers to justify the extra cost compared to the M-Series and especially the TCL.
Updated January 17, 2019 to account for the introduction of the.
Sleek panel, weak remote and streaming
The P-Series does away with the generic looks of previous Vizios and takes more risk. The bottom edge is a relatively bright silver and the matching, super thin legs have a fetching, rounded look that reminds me of the Samsung Q8 -- a lofty comparison.
The top and sides are darker, meanwhile, consisting of thin black strips topped with edge-to-edge glass ringed by a silver hairline. The effect is to ground the TV visually along the bottom edge and make the rest seem to float in comparison, and I really liked it. While not quite up to Samsung or LG's standards, the P-Series is the nicest-looking Vizio TV I've ever seen.
Unfortunately the remote, the same tired wand Vizio has been waving for years, doesn't measure up. It has too many buttons and I kept having to glance down rather than operate it by feel. I prefer the simplicity of TCL's Roku TV remote or the evolved clickers of Samsung and LG.
I'm also disappointed by Vizio's smart TV system. It's less capable, slower and generally inferior to others, including Roku, Samsung, LG and Sony's Android TV. It does offer the ability to stream apps from your phone, if you're into that, with its built-in Chromecast function. Still, if you're getting a P-Series, do yourself a favor and get an external streamer like the or, if you want Dolby Vision, an , and skip Vizio's streaming altogether.
Although it lacks its the built-in voice assistant found on Sony, Samsung and LG TVs, the Vizio is able to be to controlled to some extent by Google Assistant (details here) and Alexa ( ) smart speakers. I didn't test that functionality this time around, but Google Home worked relatively well to control the .
If you want more gruesome details about the system, check out.
Of dimming zones, bright nits and true Hz
While Sony, Samsung and LG reserve(FALD) for their highest-end LCD models, . This feature is my favorite improvement for LCD picture quality because it improves all-important contrast and black levels, especially with HDR, and has better uniformity than edge-lit dimming.
|Display technology||LED LCD|
|LED backlight||Full array with local dimming|
|HDR compatible||HDR10 and Dolby Vision|
Two things separate the specifications of the P series from step-down Vizios with FALD, including the M-Series and the E-Series, as well as from the step-up P-Series Quantum (only available in a 65-inch size). Those things are its number of dimmable zones and light output. Zone number is an important spec because it controls how precise the dimming can be. More zones doesn't necessarily mean better picture quality, but it usually helps.
Here's how the 2018 Vizios compare to one another, as well as to TCL's 6 series (Sony and Samsung don't disclose the number of dimming zones on their FALD sets). As you can see, the TCL 6 series has more zones than the Vizio P-Series at 55 and 65 inches -- and more than any Vizio aside from the Quantum -- but the Vizios are available in larger sizes.
Vizio and TCL dimming zones compared
Vizio's 2018 marketing is also built in part around raw light output, highlighting (so to speak) the number ofin various series. The company claims the M-Series gets to 600 nits while the P-Series can achieve 1,000 -- that's a big difference. In our testing, however, the two delivered almost identical light output, and both were similar to the TCL 6 series. See the image quality section below for details.
The P-Series does provide one marked improvement over the M-Series and the TCL 6 series: a true 120Hz refresh rate panel, just like Sony and Samsung. It improves video processing to a level almost as good as those competitors, and also allows the option to engage MEMC (motion estimation, motion compensation), aka. All of the sizes in the P-Series use higher-performance VA panels, not the IPS panel found on some sizes in previous years.
Like LG, TCL and Sony, Vizio supports both, HDR10 and Dolby Vision, in the P-Series.
- 4x HDMI inputs (version 2.0, with
- 1x HDMI input (version 1.4, 1080p/120Hz input capable)
- 1x component/composite video input
- 1x USB port
- RF antenna tuner input
- Ethernet port
- Optical digital audio output
- Stereo analog audio output
Vizio improved its connectivity from last year, enabling four of the inputs to accept all major 4K and HDR sources. It improves upon the M-Series by adding a fifth HDMI input that's designed to accept neither HDR nor 4K sources -- instead, Input 5 can handle 1080p at 120Hz input, ideal for so-equipped gaming PCs (we didn't test this function). Gamers will also appreciate that input 5 has lowerthan the others (see below).
Beyond HDMI, the P-Series selection is solid and even, unlike some major TV makers, includes an analog (composite/component) video input. And yes, unlike last year it does include an antenna port for the TV's built-in over-the-air TV tuner, just like those of competitors. The tuner hasto cord cutters and .
Just like the other four midpriced FALD TVs I've tested in 2018, the Vizio P series delivered an excellent overall picture, enough to earn a score of "8" in this category. It's not good enough to get a "9," however, and compared to the other LCDs in my lineup that scored an 8, I liked it slightly less overall than the Samsung Q8, the TCL and the Sony, but a bit better than the Vizio M series.
Its strength is deep black levels, and in that area it actually beat the other non-OLED sets in my lineup (aside from the super expensive Q9, which I haven't fully reviewed yet), including the TCL by a hair. Like the M-Series its color lagged the others by a bit, however, and while video processing was excellent, its HDR image also showed some minor issues that led me to prefer the others. Yes, it still fully deserves an 8, but money no object? I'd take the TCL, the Sony or the Q8 over the P-Series for overall image quality.
Note that I was unable to compare the 2018 M-Series directly to the 2018 P-Series for this review. That's because the M-Series review sample Vizio sent me developed an image quality issue before I could include it in my P-Series comparisons: the image became dark and discolored, to the point where it was unwatchable. Vizio says the issue would be covered under warranty, but did not supply an official reason yet for why it occurred (that might change in the future, once the company's engineers get a look at the faulty sample). In the meantime I'm confident in my overall comparison between the two -- I like the picture on the P-Series a little better, but not enough to be worth the price difference.