Vizio is stepping up the gaming capabilities of its latest 4K LCD TVs while targeting performance- and convenience-minded consumers with more affordable quantum-dot (QD) display options and its long-awaited Vizio Voice remote.
Other changes in the 2021 AV lineup include Vizio’s first TVs with height-adjustable stands for tucking soundbars underneath and an expanded selection of soundbars with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based surround decoding, now priced down to $299.
The company didn’t unveil new 4K OLED TVs, having shipped its first two models only last October at $1,999 and $1,299 for the 65- and 55-inch SKUs, respectively. Nor did Vizio announce plans for TVs with 8K Ultra HD resolution, citing a lack of native 8K content and 8K brightness challenges. NextGen (ATSC 3.0) over-the-air TV tuners also didn’t make it into the lineup. However, it has been confirmed that the number of quantum-dot SKUs grows to 15 with the 2021 line, up from 12 in the 2020 line.
For smoother game play, the company is expanding variable refresh rate (VRR) technology down in price into the V Series of entry-level 4K TVs (select models only) as well as down to all 1080p FullHD SKUs in the non-4K D Series (though not to the D Series 720p HD TVs). AMD’s FreeSync VRR technology, intended for PC gamers, expands down the line to multiple V Series 4K TVs and to two of six FullHD TVs in the D Series. FreeSync continues in all models in the step-up 4K M Series, with FreeSync Premium remaining in all SKUs in the top-end 4K P Series.
Vizio is also reducing input lag to less than 7ms at 4K/120fps in its top-end P Series and to less than 10ms at 4K/6-fps in both the mainstream M Series and V Series. That contrasts with around 16ms during the initial launch of 2020’s M and V Series and 15ms during the initial launch of the 2020 P Series.
Automatic low latency mode (ALLM) for responsive gameplay continues to be available in all P, M, and V Series models and, for the first time, appears in the non-4K D Series. ALLM turns up in all FullHD SKUs in the D Series but not in the 720p SKUs.
For 4K gaming, 4K/60fps support continues in all 4K models down to the V Series, while 4K/120Hz continues in the top-end P Series, a spokesperson said.
Vizio boasts of offering the widest range of TV sizes (from 24 to 85 inches) with one or more gaming features such as VRR, and the company offers “probably the widest range” of FreeSync-enabled TVs, said product management director Mike Wood. As for VRR in general, the feature debuted in the 2020 line and “is now in every series from the D Series to the P Series,” said Carlos Angullo, director of brand and product marketing.
To enhance the gaming and movie experiences, Vizio is expanding its selection of color-gamut-enhancing quantum-dot (QD) 4K displays and bringing QD technology down in display size to 43 inches at $399 in the expanded M Series from a 50-inch model. Like before, the P series also features quantum dots, which still don’t appear in the entry-level 4K V Series.
Vizio continues to offer select 4K TVs with high levels of peak brightness and a high number of contrast-enhancing back-lit FALD (full-array local dimming) zones. Peak brightness continues to max out at 3,000 nits in the 85-inch SKU in the flagship P Series, with the other two P Series SKUs at 65 and 75 inches delivering 1,200 nits. Six of 12 M Series SKUs deliver from 400 to 700 peak nits, with the other models delivering unspecified brightness levels.
FALD zones continue to max out at 792 in the 85-inch P Series TV, with the other two P Series models featuring 144 and 210 zones, respectively. In the M Series, six SKUs feature from 16 to 32 zones, with the remaining six featuring zone-less full-array backlighting.
In promoting its implementation of 4K quantum-dot technology, Vizio contends its quantum-dot TVs deliver more color saturation than competing quantum-dot TVs. It points to the following specs: six M Series TVs delivering 75% of the Rec. 2020 standard, six M Series TVs achieving 84% of Rec. 2020, two P Series TVs at 84%, and one P Series model at 85%.
For reference, 100% of the P3 color-gamut standard, which is widely promoted by other manufacturers, equals about 73% of the Rec. 2020 standard.
For the convenience-minded, the company will ship its long-awaited Vizio Voice Remote with all 4K LCD models, except for a few seasonal models, a spokesperson said. The Bluetooth-enabled voice remote features a push-to-talk (PTT) button and built-in microphone to enable natural-language voice control of TV functions, TV-content discovery, and web searches for Wikipedia information, weather, sports scores and other data.
Voice-controlled functions include volume, picture modes, and the selection of apps, channels, movies, TV programs, and HDMI inputs. Users can use multiple search terms in a single search request. Searching for a particular TV show that’s available exclusively through a single streaming service will automatically launch that service.
Like before, the TVs can also be controlled via Apple’s Siri voice assistant and with Alexa- and Google Assistant-enabled smart speakers. The D Series of HD and FHD TVs feature voice control through a smartphone running a Vizio app.
Also for the convenience-minded, height-adjustable TV stands debut in eight new TVs, enabling the placement of a variety of Vizio- and other-brand soundbars under the screen rather than in front of it. Select Vizio soundbars are said to dock seamlessly with the TVs. The feature appears in six of 12 M Series TVs from 50 to 75 inches and in the 65- and 75-inch P Series models.
Series By Series
Vizio’s 2021 selection of 4K LCD TVs consists of 24 new models, almost all of which are rolling out in stores now through August. The TVs appear in the following series:
- the entry-level V Series, divided into two subseries (the seven-SKU V5 subseries of 43- to 75-inch models priced from $339 to $899 and the two-SKU V6 subseries with 70- and 75-inch models at $749 and $919, respectively);
- the step-up M Series, which adds quantum dots and is also divided into two subseries (the six-SKU MQ6 subseries in 43- to 75-inch sizes at $399 to $999 and the six-SKU MQ7 subseries, which adds FALD zones, higher brightness and wider color gamut in 50- to 75-inch sizes at $749 to $1,399;
- the three-SKU P Series, which increases the number of FALD zones and further boosts brightness. The 65- and 75-inch P Series SKUs retail for $1,399 and $2,199, respectively. The price and ship date of the 85-inch model weren’t announced.
Like before, all 4K LCD TVs feature Vizio’s SmartCast smart-TV OS, Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, Apple HomeKit smart-home integration, Dolby Atmos surround decoding, and an array of HDR technologies: HDR10, HDR 10+, Dolby Vision, and HLG. Also like before, all 4K models feature voice control through Apple’s Siri and through smart speakers equipped with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
As in the previous line, HDMI 2.1’s eARC connectivity appears in all 4K models, with standard ARC appearing in the non-4K D Series.
In 2021, 16 of 24 new 4K LCD TVs are bezel-less on three sides, with the top-end P Series model lacking a bezel on all four sides.
The new lineup doesn’t include such technologies as Mini LED backlighting, Dolby Vision IQ, HDR 10+ Adaptive, or the UHD Alliance’s Filmmaker Mode. Vizio had announced plans for the latter in 2020 but hasn’t yet launched the feature.
In launching eight new soundbars, the company is expanding the number of models with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround decoding to five from two and reducing the opening price point for Atmos/DTS:X decoding to $299 from a current $349.
The new models are priced at $499 with 5.1.2-speaker configuration (including a pair of wireless surround speakers); $329 with 5.1-speaker configuration (including wireless surrounds) and DTS Virtual:X, which virtualizes two height channels; and $299 with 2.1 speakers and DTS Virtual:X to virtualize two surround and two height channels.
Two current soundbars with Atmos and DTS:X are available at $349 and $999. All Atmos/DTS:X soundbars feature eARC.
Other new soundbars include a $99 2.0-channel model and a $149 2.1-channel model with DTS Virtual:X, whose feature set includes upmixing two- and 5.1-channel content to deliver virtualized height and surround effects.