High color fidelity
Less performance range than similarly priced models
Last year's big TV value-hitters were the 2019 TCL 6 Series and the 2019 Vizio M-Series Quantum, and that trend continues into 2020. The 2020 TCL 6-Series impressed us greatly in August via its continued excellence in picture quality and gaming-facing features, but it's also a bit more expensive than the M-Series models. So which one is right for you?
As it stands, the M-Series Quantum is an excellent value model, but you'll definitely want to compare it carefully with TCL's 6-Series before pulling the trigger on either. The 6-Series is brighter and offers a higher native refresh rate, making it the more attractive pick for gamers—especially with next-gen gaming consoles on the way. However, if you aren't hunting for extreme brightness or don't even know what a refresh rate is, you could do a lot worse than the carefully sculpted 2020 M-Series Quantum.
(Editor's note: Due to COVID-19 complications, this review leans heavily on test results in lieu of hands-on time with the TV.)
About the Vizio M-Series Quantum
The 2020 Vizio M-Series Quantum is (once again this year) available in two variants: a "7" and an "8" variant (denoted as Q7 and Q8 in the model names).
We reviewed a 65-inch model of the Q7 variant (M65Q7-H1), which is available in three screen sizes in total:
- 50-inch (Vizio M50Q7-H1), $399.99
- 55-inch (Vizio M55Q7-H1), $499.99
- 65-inch (Vizio M65Q7-H1), $699.99
The Q8 variant is available in two screen sizes:
- 55-inch (Vizio M55Q8-H1), $549.99
- 65-inch (Vizio M65Q8-H1), $749.99
One thing you may have noticed right off the bat: the Q8 variant of the 2020 M-Series Quantum comes in two of the same screen sizes as the Q7 variant (there's no 50-inch Q8), but the Q8s are $50 more expensive. This is because the Q8 models allegedly boast both a higher number of local dimming zones and higher overall color volume, but we can only conjecture without having yet tested a Q8.
Outside of local dimming zone count, the Q7 and Q8 variants of the 2020 M-Series Quantum share the same basic specs. Here's what's most relevant about them:
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
- Panel Type: VA LCD
- Local Dimming: Full-Array Local Dimming
- Color Enhancement: Quantum Dots
- High Dynamic Range formats: HDR10/Dolby Vision/HLG
- Smart Platform: Vizio SmartCast 4.0
- Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
- Variable Refresh Rate: Yes, 48-60 Hz (HDMI)
As for local dimming zones, this is the count across the full 2020 M-Series Quantum:
- 65-inch Q7: 30 zones
- 55-inch Q7: 30 zones
- 50-inch Q7: 16 zones
- 65-inch Q8: 90 zones
- 55-inch Q8: 90 zones
As you can see, the amount of local dimming zones varies pretty widely between the Q7 and Q8 variants. The 55-inch Q8 offers the most dimming "value" when considering the size-to-zone ratio. You'd also likely notice a fairly large discrepancy in performance between one of the 90-zone models and the 16-zone, 50-inch Q7—but otherwise, the general design, features, and functionality of the TVs should be identical.
Despite their differences in terms of local dimming zone count, the Q7 and Q8 variants are identical in terms of connectivity (audio/video connections on the back of the panel). Here's what you're getting:
- 4 x HDMI 2.1 inputs (one is eARC compatible)
- 1 x USB input
- 1 x ethernet (LAN) input
- 1 x composite (AV) input
- 1 x analog audio out
- 1 x digital audio out (SPDIF)
Before testing a TV, we set it up in the lab and send a continuous non-static image signal (usually SMPTE scrolling color bars) for around 24 hours to allow all the pixels and components proper time to warm up.
We measure luminance-based metrics using a Konica Minolta LS-100 luminance meter, and color-based metrics using a SpectraCal C6 color meter. All testing is done in conjunction with a QuantumData 780A signal generator and CalMan Ultimate testing software.
Here are the key takeaways from the M65Q7-H1's time in the lab:
- SDR contrast results: 253.8 nits / 0.043 nits (ANSI checkerboard, "Calibrated" picture mode)
- HDR contrast results: 270.3 nits / 0.045 nits (ANSI checkerboard, "Calibrated" picture mode)
- HDR peak brightness: 429.1 nits
- SDR color gamut coverage: 97% (rec.709)
- HDR color gamut coverage: 96% (DCI-P3)
What We Like
Solid contrast (though lacking elite brightness)
It used to be that the very best TVs boasted the highest color accuracy, but that's old hat—the new game in town is high brightness. While specs for High Dynamic Range, including Dolby Vision, call for both wide dynamic range (high brightness, deep shadow tones) and expanded color properties, a TV's color saturation abilities are tied primarily to how bright it can get (there's a positively correlated relationship, essentially). As an LED display, this TV's aim is to get as bright as possible while still maintaining a respectable black level.
As HDR TVs go, we like to see at least a benchmark reference luminance of around 400 nits, which is just about where the 2020 M-Series Quantum lands—testing in the "Calibrated" picture mode revealed a sustained HDR peak of around 430 nits (this is very similar to the 2019 model), with average Standard Dynamic Range brightness landing around 250 nits.
Like all of Vizio's 2020 TVs, the M-Series offers full-array local dimming (FALD), an LED backlight variant that utilizes a "full array" of light-emitting diodes behind the screen that can brighten and dim down each zone in order to create better contrast. And like most such TVs, the 2020 M-Series Quantum's reference brightness and black levels vary a good deal depending on how much of the screen is bright or dark. However, testing revealed very good shadow consistency for this TV, especially for an LED TV: We measured black levels as low as 0.01 nits and never any brighter than about 0.05 nits (solid numbers for an LED TV).
Overall, you're getting excellent contrast here (though the smaller zone count in the Q7 variant may not perform as well as the Q8 variant). However, anyone looking for higher peak brightness may want to spring for something a bit pricier (not to keep on about it, but TCL's 2020 6-Series comes to mind).
Good viewing angles, decent motion performance
Like last year's M-Series Quantum models, the 2020s are still using VA (vertical alignment) style LCD panels, which is one reason they earn such good contrast results. The downside of this panel type is that the horizontal viewing angles aren't as wide as IPS-style panels (however, those generally have much worse contrast, and the huge majority of modern TVs use VA panels). That said, given that its total viewing angle could be rather limited, the results here are fairly solid—not OLED level, but certainly good enough for most general purposes, especially for what you're paying.
Likewise, interested buyers should keep in mind that you're also not getting top-tier refresh rates in the M7. Current TVs come in two refresh rate speeds: 60 Hz and 120 Hz, and the 2020 Vizio M-Series Quantum is the former. This isn't a big deal for most types of content—you really only need 120 Hz in order to play 24 fps content without judder (read: Blu-ray discs) and for certain high-speed gaming. If you mostly watch content via cable or streaming services, and aren't too twitchy about your video games, the 60 Hz refresh rate will hold up just fine.
Good color accuracy makes things pop
The "Quantum" in the M-Series Quantum's name denotes one very valuable kind of TV technology: quantum dots. Usually found in much pricier TVs, one of the best things about this TV series is that you get these fancy little color-boosting dots (actually they're more of a "film" applied to a transistor in the screen) for a relatively low price.
One thing quantum dots do is boost the fidelity of reds and greens, two of a TV's three primary colors (and the main enhancements drawn upon by HDR content). This makes for an affordable TV that's very viable for HDR10 and Dolby Vision content, albeit with a couple of caveats.
While displaying content in its aptly-named "Calibrated" picture mode, the M-Series Quantum delivers excellent color fidelity. It matches the standard (SDR) color space almost perfectly, which is just what you'd expect from an HDR TV in 2020. Likewise, it covers a huge portion of the DCI-P3 color space (almost 100%), though its green production skews a bit blue-ish at the very highest levels of saturation—but it's nothing you'd ever really notice. Overall, you can expect richly saturated color (even in low light scenes) and content that really "pops" in brighter, more colorful scenes.
Solid features and extras
Last but not least, Vizio has stuffed in as many future-facing features as is feasible for a TV in this price range. Not only are you getting the latest version of Vizio's SmartCast TV platform—which is fine for things like watching Netflix or Prime Video, even if we don't like it as much as a Roku TV—but also some excellent techy features for next-gen gaming.
It's also worth mentioning that the 2020 M-Series Quantum is equipped with HDMI 2.1-compatible ports, allowing it to perform a gaming-focused feature called "Variable Refresh Rate" (VRR). The usefulness of this feature is tempered by the fact that its refresh rate maxes out at 60 Hz, meaning the "variables" in the equation only range between 48 and 60 Hz total.
We haven't actually been able to experiment with this, but it's an inherently less useful feature than it would be on a 120 Hz TV. However, it's still icing on this TV's cake.
What We Don't Like
It wasn't broke, but they could have "fixed" it
The worst thing about the 2020 M-Series Quantum is that it isn't really much improved compared to the 2019 model. Yes, you're getting full-array local dimming, quantum dots, smart features, and HDR10/Dolby Vision compatibility—but you got all that with last year's model, too, which further sweetened the value pot by being the most affordable quantum-dot-equipped TV on the market. By comparison, the 2020 version just doesn't stand out as much.
Don't get me wrong: this is still a top-notch value, and we greatly appreciate the addition of HDMI 2.1 compatibility and VRR (even if it's a bit early in the gaming lifecycle for those features to be immediately useful). But it would have been great to see, perhaps, an appreciable increase in brightness that would have allowed this TV to go toe-to-toe with TCL's 6-Series. As it stands, it's a slight downgrade, at a slightly more affordable price.
Forgettable design details
If you buy something like a high-end QLED TV or a premium OLED TV, one thing you're paying extra for is significant attention to design details: a bit of finery in the sculpting and shaping of the TVs' bezels, remotes, or stands.
Simply put, you're not getting that here. While most mid-range TVs aren't going to stand out much, it's another area where Vizio could have perhaps made some small improvements, considering how little the M-Series Quantum has changed otherwise. It's not a bad-looking TV at all—it just isn't going to wow anyone.
Should You Buy It?
Maybe—if you're mostly hunting for value
This TV has some tough competition this year: as I've mentioned, the 2020 TCL 6 Series is the better TV in terms of pure specs (it hits around 600 nits compared to the M-Series' 400 nits, and sports a 120 Hz refresh rate compared to the M-Series' 60 Hz), but it's also a lot less flexible in terms of sizes and pricing.
If you just want a decent 4K/HDR TV and don't care about above-average brightness or next-gen gaming, the Q7 variants of the M-Series Quantum are excellent. If you're more concerned about picture quality, you could also pay just a little more ($50 on average) for a Q8 variant of the same size (though they're a little hard to track down at the moment). The Q8 TVs offer an appreciable increase in the number of dimming zones, which should offer a correlational increase in picture quality.
The 65-inch M-Series Quantum goes for $700 or $750 depending on which variant, while the 65-inch TCL 6-Series goes for $900. If that $200 makes a big difference in terms of your budget and you're not angling for the best possible HDR performance or aren't a super-serious gamer, the M-Series Quantum is the best choice for you. However, if you don't mind paying a little more for higher brightness and a better refresh rate, the 6-Series is ultimately the better choice in terms of pure specs—it all comes down to what you plan to play and watch.
Meet the tester
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
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