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Vizio Expands Google Cast, HDR To More Tuner-Less “TV” Displays

Vizio is expanding its Google Cast and no-TV-tuner strategy to 4K Ultra HD “home theater displays” throughout its line with the launch of the 2016 SmartCast M- and E-series.

The company is also expanding high dynamic range (HDR) capability to the M series but not to the E-series 4K displays.

The announcements follow last month’s unveiling of Vizio’s P series, which was the company’s first series with Google Cast and lack of a broadcast-TV tuner. The P series also expanded Dolby Vision HDR beyond the top-end Reference series.

Plans to add HDR 10 capability to the Reference and P series via firmware updates were also announced last month, and HDR 10 will presumably be available as a firmware upgrade to the Dolby Vision-equipped M series.

Also in its new E series, Vizio includes HD TVs, which also come with Google Cast but haven’t dispensed with built-in TV tuners.

Last December, the company unveiled its entry-level D-Series of 4K and non-4K smart TVs with built-in tuners, embedded smart TV apps, but no Google Cast.

Google Cast features: All of Vizio’s Google Cast-equipped displays and TVs use Google Cast in lieu of an embedded smart-TV platform to expand the number of audio- and video-streaming services that can be played on a TV via an Internet connection, the company said. With Google Cast, apps aren’t stored on a TV. Instead, the TVs stream content from the thousands of Google Cast-enabled apps that can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet. 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 battery, get better audio and video quality, and get the opportunity to use the mobile device for other activities without interrupting playback on the TV, Google has said.

Vizio previously said it is dispensing with over-the-air ATSC tuners in its 4K TVs because few people get their TV content over the air.

Like the P series, the M-series TVs come with 6-inch Android tablet with preinstalled Vizio app for use as a Wi-Fi remote. The tablet, which comes with charging dock, is promoted as making it easier for users to navigate among streaming apps without having to squint at a menu that might not be close by. The M- and P-series TVs can also be controlled from Apple and Android smartphones and tablets running a downloaded Vizio app.

Vizio’s app also lets users search and browse content by genre across multiple apps at once, then select the app or source to be played.

The E-series TVs don’t come with included tablet but can be controlled from Vizio’s downloaded app.

None of Vizio’s 4K displays come with UltraHD Alliance certification, which Vizio previously said doesn’t measure some performance parameters, “leading to some products being certified that shouldn’t and ignoring other products that should be certified.”

Here are the details of the two new series:

M series: This tuner-less series, a step below the P series, will roll out “soon” to retailers in six screen sizes from 50 inches to 80 inches at suggested retails from $849 to $3,999.

All models feature full-array LED backlighting with up to 64 active LED zones to improve the contrast ratio and add detail and depth. The number of zones in last year’s P series maxed out at 32.

The displays also feature effective refresh rates of 240Hz.

The lineup consists of the $849 50-inch M50-D1, $999 55-inch M55-D0, $1,249 60-inch M60-D1, $1,499 65-inch M65-D0, $1,999 70-inch M70-D3, and $3,999

80-inch M80-D3.

E series: The E series is rolling out now with seven tuner-less UHD displays and six HD TVs with tuners. All come with Google Cast.

The UHD displays range in price from $469 to $1,699 for models sized from 43 to 70 inches. The HD TVs are priced from $229 to $569 for models sized from 32 to 55 inches.

The UHD displays lack HDR but feature full-array LED backlighting with up to 12 active LED zones. They also feature effective 120Hz refresh rates.