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Vizio Expands Dolby Vision HDR, Uses Google Cast In Lieu Of Smart-TV Platform

Vizio is expanding Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) technology to more 4K Ultra HD TVs and eschewing a smart-TV platform for built-in Google Cast with the launch of its 2016 P series.

The company’s Google Cast-based SmartCast technology will also appear in future soundbars and standalone speakers, the company said.

The four Vizio P-series TVs, already available, are priced at suggested $999 for a 50-inch model, $1,299 for a 55-inch model, $1,999 for 65 inches, and $3,799 for 75 inches. All come with included 6-inch 1080p Android tablet for use as a remote. Other mobile devices can be used as a remote when running a Vizio app.

The series is a step beneath the company’s top-end Reference series, which consists of a 4K Dolby Vision-enabled $129,000 120-inch 4K TV and a similarly equipped $5,999 65-inch TV.

In another shift from tradition, none of the TVs incorporates a TV tuner, and all lack an on-screen menu, relegating the user interface to the included tablet or to a Vizio app for iOS and Android devices.

Firmware upgrades: The new Wi-Fi-equipped TVs will get a firmware upgrade in 90 days to add the rival HDR 10 HDR technology, a spokesperson told TWICE. The Reference TVs will get the HDR 10 upgrade in 60 days.

The P series TVs already feature HDMI 2.0a to accept HDR streams from new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players and other outboard 4K sources, and in 60 days, the Reference TVs will get a firmware upgrade to add upgrade their HDMI 2.0 inputs to HDMI 2.0a, the spokesperson said.

Color gamut: The new TVs feature a wide color gamut of around 96 percent of the P3 color space and around 72 percent of the Rec. 2020 color gamut.

The TVs meet the UHD Alliance’s color-gamut minimum of more than 90 percent of P3, and they meet the alliance’s 10-bit panel minimum.

The new TVs, however, are not certified by the UHD Alliance to meet the alliance’s minimum 4K performance standards. Vizio has discounted the standards, previously saying the standards don’t provide enough guidance to measure some parameters, leading to some products being certified that shouldn’t and ignoring other products that should be certified.”

In the new TVs, for example, the displays deliver “typical” peak luminance of 600 nits, measured full-field white, and a 150,000:1 contrast ratio, a spokesman said. “Vizio likes to point out for comparison that while the UHD Alliance premium spec for LCD/LED TVs calls for a 1000-nit peak luminance (not full field), [and] the contrast ratio in that spec is only 20,000:1,” he said.

 Vizio said the new TVs offer “the same advanced picture quality technologies first released on the 2015 Vizio 120-inch and 65-inch Reference series.

To help deliver HDR, the TVs feature full-array LED backlighting with 126 to 128 active LED zones, depending on the model. The number of zones is twice that of the previous P series and perhaps up to 10 times more than most comparably priced TVs, the spokesman said, “though that’s admittedly difficult to quantify since other manufacturers are not willing to state how many zones they use.”

SmartCast: In lieu of a smart-TV platform, the company embedded Google Cast technology in the TVs, enabling the TVs to stream content available through  thousands of apps running on a mobile device, including music- and movie-streaming apps. Because the Google Cast-equipped TVs pull content directly from the cloud instead of from the mobile device, users reduce the drain on their mobile device’s battery, get better audio and video quality, and can use the mobile device for other activities without interrupting playback, Google has said.

Included tablet: The included 6-inch Android Lollipop tablet comes with Vizio’s SmartCast app, which lets users search and browse content by genre across multiple streaming apps at once. Users then select the app to play the content. The app also simplifies on-screen navigation, the company said, because users access all TV menus and playback controls through the SmartCast app on the tablet’s touchscreen rather than through an on-TV UI controlled from a remote.

The SmartCast app is also available for download on other iOS and Android devices that consumers might already have.

The tablet comes with 1080p display, octa-core processor, full tablet capabilities including Google Play Store access, and charging dock.

The TV also comes with a basic IR remote to control on/off, volume, and input switching.