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Vizio Embraces ATSC Tuners & HDR In New 4K TVs

Black levels said to be comparable with OLED

Vizio is bringing ATSC broadcast tuners back to its entire 4K TV lineup.

The company is launching four new 4K smart-TV lines that feature more high dynamic range (HDR) formats, higher peak brightness levels in all but the entry-level series, more backlit local-dimming zones in select models to improve black levels, and its first quantum-dot TV in two years.

The new TVs are also the company’s first TVs that can be voice-controlled through smart speakers and mobile phones via Amazon Alexa. Like last year’s models, the new models can also be voice-controlled through speakers and phones via Google Assistant.

The company also unveiled its first three Dolby Atmos soundbars and its first soundbar with DTS:X post processing.

The flagship TV is the $2,199-suggested P-series Quantum, a 65-inch model with quantum-dot display, 192 local dimming zones, 2,000 nits of peak brightness, black levels said to be “comparable” with OLED displays, and wide color gamut reaching 98 percent of the DCI P3 digital-cinema standard, or 80% of the Rec. 2020 standard. It’s Vizio’s first quantum-dot TV in two years after phasing out a 65-inch Reference-series TV.

As quantum-dot film comes down in price, Vizio “will see how far we can spread it” in its lineup, but the company has no current plans to do so, said John Hwang, senior director of product management.

The quantum-dot TV is among 19 smart 4K TVs that Vizio is unveiling in the D, E, M and P series of 4K smart TVs. The entry-level D series also includes some HD and FHD smart and non-smart models. Like before, all models feature full-array backlighting instead of edge-lit LED lighting for better light uniformity and contrast, Vizio said.

All 2018 smart TVs run on Vizio’s SmartCast OS, which incorporates onscreen apps and Chromecast built-in, which enables the TV to stream any one of thousands of Chromecast-enabled apps running on a mobile device.

ATSC Revisited

All TV models feature ATSC tuners, which in the 2017 lines were available only in the entry-level D series. Vizio brought back free over-the-air ATSC tuning in force because the company recognized that although “a large percentage” of consumers don’t watch over-the-air TV, people who have cut the cord with traditional pay-TV services see value in free ATSC broadcasts, Hwang said.

Because linear TV is “still a strong use case,” Hwang added, Vizio is bringing YouTube TV’s vMVPD service to its selection of embedded smart-TV apps in the spring as well as its own over-the-top (OTT) free-TV service, which it is developing with Pluto TV to let viewers stream more than 100 free Internet channels.

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The as-yet unnamed service, which will include some Vizio-exclusive channels, will give users access to OTT linear-TV channels through the TVs’ onscreen GUI as well as by using the channel up/down buttons of the TV’s remote. The service will feel like a traditional pay-TV service without the set-top box or subscription fee, the company said. Channels will offer news, sports, movies, talk shows, concerts and the like.

Pluto TV’s own OTT linear-TV service is available on 2017 and 2018 Vizio smart TVs, but Vizio promises its free linear-TV service will offer content not available through the Pluto service.

HDR, peak brightness: In its 2018 lineup, Vizio is also stepping up picture performance, in part by adding more HDR options. Hybrid Log Gamma appears for the first time in Vizio TVs and will be available on all 4K models, while Dolby Vision, previously available only in the M and P series, migrates down to the “step-up entry-level” E series. Like before, the HDR 10 format appears in all 4K models.

To goose up the peak brightness levels of specular highlights on a sustained basis, Vizio expanded its user-selectable Extreme Black Engine feature down into the E series and upgraded its performance to reduce blooming, said Hwang. The feature is tied to the TVs’ multiple backlit local-dimming zones.

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In other changes, Vizio is bringing a bezel-less design to three sides of its M- and P-series TVs.

Here are the prices, availability, and some of the others key features and specifications of the new 4K TVs, starting from the top down:

P-Series Quantum TV

This 65-inch $2,199 model features gamut-enhancing quantum-dot technology, 700 nits of full-screen brightness, 2,000 nits of peak brightness, and 192 local dimming zones, more than any previous Vizio model. It reproduces 98 percent of the DCI P3 color-gamut standard.

The bezel-less TV is available at and is rolling out to such retailers as Amazon, Costco and Sam’s Club.

P Series

The 55-, 65- and 75-inch models are priced at a suggested $899, $1,299 and $2,499, respectively, and feature from 56 to 120 zones of LED backlighting, 450 nits of full-screen brightness, and 1,000 nits of peak brightness with the Extreme Black Engine feature at its highest setting. Color gamut extends to 94% of the DCI P3 standard. Last year’s P series featured 128 dimming zones, peak brightness of 900 nits, and 94% of P3 gamut.

They’re available at and are rolling out to such retailers as Amazon, Best Buy, Costco and Sam’s Club.

M Series

The 55-, 65- and 70-inch TVs are priced, respectively, at $699, $999 and $1,499 and feature from 32 to 48 full-array local dimming zones with full-screen brightness of 400 nits and peak brightness of 600 nits. Last year’s models also featured 400/600-nit brightness but with the previous version of Extreme Black Engine. Last year’s series maxed out at 32 zones. Color gamut remains at the Rec 709 level.

The series is available at and is rolling out to such retailers as Costco, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart.

E Series

The series consists of 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 70- and 75-inch models at respective MSRPs of $349, $439, $499, $799, $1,049 and $1,549. In this year’s series, local dimming expands to all SKUs, whereas local dimming was limited in the 2017 series to models with screen sizes of 55 inches and up.

Like last year, 10 to 16 local-dimming zones are available with full-screen brightness of 300 nits, but peak brightness this year goes to 400 nits. Gamut remains at Rec 709.

The series is available at and is rolling out to such retailers as Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart.

D Series

The 4K models in this series come in 43-, 50-, 55-, 60-, 65- and 70-inch sizes at suggested retails of $349, $429, $499, $649, $779 and $999, respectively. Though featuring LED backlighting, they lack local dimming zones. Gamut is Rec 709.

The series is available at and is rolling out to such retailers as Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart.

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