Sensational contrast and color
HDMI 2.1 support
Doesn't get as bright as the competition
Smart platform lacks flexibility
Before you slap your credit card down, there are a few things you ought to know about Vizio's first OLED. For one thing, it's not nearly as bright as quantum dot TVs in the same price bracket. In addition, if you're hoping for a seamless smart platform experience, Vizio's built-in SmartCast software might leave you hanging.
At the end of the day, the Vizio OLED gives LG a run for its money and can easily be seen as a less-costly alternative to Sony's 2020 OLED—provided you keep its limitations in mind.
Update (October 7, 2020): We've retested the Vizio OLED's luminance and expanded on our initial findings. You can find these updates further down the page.
About the Vizio OLED
The Vizio OLED is available in two sizes: 55 inches and 65 inches. Our review unit is a 55-inch model purchased from an online retailer. Here's how the two sizes compare when it comes to price:
- 55-inch (Vizio OLED55-H1), MSRP $1,299.99
- 65-inch (Vizio OLED65-H1), MSRP $1,999.99
Different sizes of TVs in a series tend to perform very similarly to one another, and this is especially true for OLED TVs, since they don't rely on backlight apparatuses that change depending on the size of the display. Here's a rundown of what you're getting with the Vizio OLED in either size:
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
- Display: OLED
- HDR support: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG
- Dolby Atmos passthrough: Yes, including HDMI eARC for full resolution to supported devices
- Native refresh rate: 120 Hz
- Smart platform: Yes (Vizio SmartCast 4.0)
- Color: DCI-P3/10-bit color space
- Processor: IQ Ultra
- Other features: Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) 40-120 Hz
Vizio OLED TVs include the company's SmartCast software out of the box, as well as a newly designed version of the standard Vizio remote control.
Before testing each TV, we make sure the panel is on and receiving a continuous signal for at least 24 hours, allowing the pixels plenty of time to warm up. The Vizio OLED received the standard warm-up time before any readings were taken.
For SDR tests, we used Vizio's “Calibrated” picture setting. For HDR tests, we also used Vizio’s “Calibrated” picture setting. We’ve chosen these settings because of their accuracy, but results may vary across picture modes. We also took supplemental readings in the TV's "Vivid" picture mode as a point of comparison.
We use a standard ANSI checkerboard pattern for most of our basic contrast tests—including the ones reported below—but we also use white and black windows ranging from 2% to 90% to test how well the contrast holds up while displaying varying degrees of brightness.
I'll expand on our test results throughout the review, but for now, here are some key takeaways:
• HDR contrast (brightness/black level): 222.7 nits/0.001 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• SDR contrast (brightness/black level): 215.4 nits/0.001 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• HDR peak brightness: 540.9 nits (10% white window)*
• HDR color gamut coverage: 97% (DCI-P3/10-bit)
• SDR color gamut coverage: 81% (Rec.709)
*An updated explanation of this data point can be found further down page.
The Vizio OLED is flush with standard and future-facing connectivity options, including four HDMI 2.1 ports. The inclusion of this HDMI format ensures that the Vizio OLED will support cutting-edge gaming features for years to come (among other benefits). I'll expand on this further in the review, but for now, here's what you'll find in the cutouts on the back of the Vizio OLED's panel:
• 4x HDMI 2.1 ports (1x eARC)
• 1x USB 2.0 ports
• Composite input
• LAN ethernet port, RF input, optical audio output, analog audio output
What We Like
Incredible contrast and color that only OLED can provide
OLED displays offer the overall best picture money can buy thanks to their self-illuminating pixels. The impressive display technology is directly responsible for perfect black levels, voluminous color production, and unparalleled viewing angle flexibility. The Vizio OLED checks all of these boxes, serving up sensational contrast, true-to-life color, and a picture that won't degrade if you happen to be watching TV from an off-angle position.
The Vizio OLED covers about 97% of the expanded DCI-P3 color gamut, and if you happen to be upgrading from a non-HDR TV, the leap in color quality is sure to be stunning. We were also impressed with the TV's ability to convey dark, shadowy scenes, as it's particularly good at minimizing banding.
The bottom line here is that, more than anything, Vizio needed to prove that it's capable of producing the stellar picture quality that we've come to expect from OLED TVs in order to compete with LG and Sony. Not only was it successful in this endeavor, but its success is also apparent the moment you turn on the Vizio OLED. In other words: bravo!
Next-generation features for gaming and beyond
Vizio's first OLED is ahead of the curve when it comes to next-generation performance enhancements thanks to its four HDMI 2.1 ports, which will allow the TV to remain on the bleeding edge of gaming and home theater advancements for years to come (though only one of these ports is eARC-ready).
In terms of gaming benefits, the Vizio OLED supports both Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). VRR is a software enhancement that prevents screen tearing and artifacting as a result of changes in frame rate. Essentially, it ensures that what is being displayed is in sync with real-time changes in animation. ALLM, on the other hand, is a feature that allows a TV to automatically switch into its designated gaming mode when a qualifying input is chosen. In other words, it removes the need for you to manually activate your TV’s gaming mode so you may enjoy the benefits of low input lag and low latency without fumbling for a remote control and visiting the TV’s settings menu.
The Vizio OLED sports a native refresh rate of 120 Hz, so not only is its motion handling built on the industry's highest refresh rate, but when the time comes, the Vizio OLED will also be able to support 4K gaming at 120 FPS.
Impressive, eye-catching design
Like most of the OLED TVs that came before it, the Vizio OLED's design is an engineering marvel. Since the TV's self-illuminating pixels don't require a backlight, the panel doesn't need to make room for any of the chunky hardware that traditional LCD/LED TVs rely on. The end result is super-svelte panel that's narrower than most smartphones at its thinnest points.
There's some bulk around the back of the panel to house the TV's internals, but not nearly as much bulk as you'd find in a typical backlit LED TV. The entire display is propped up by a metallic, eye-catching stand whose shape resembles a cresting wave. It's unique, attractive, and demonstrates restraint—easily one of the best-looking TV designs we've seen all year.
The Vizio OLED's stand also acts as a landing pad for a soundbar, should you decide to use one (and you should!). Simply put, it's refreshing to see a TV whose design is both functional and visually appealing.
What We Don't Like
Dimmer than rival OLEDs and QLEDs
Despite the jaw-dropping performance specs that OLED is capable of producing, there's one area where OLED TVs lag behind their high-end LCD/LED TV counterparts: peak brightness. The Vizio OLED is unable to escape this fate; it gets brighter than most mid-range LED TVs, but it doesn't come close to producing the sizzling highlights of quantum dot TVs like this year's Samsung Q90T. Even a budget-friendly QLED TV like this year's TCL 6-Series is capable of getting much brighter than the Vizio OLED.
For reference, when receiving an HDR signal, we consistently clocked the Vizio OLED at around 450-550 nits in its "Calibrated" picture mode. The Samsung Q90T, on the other hand, averages around 1,200 nits in HDR, and the TCL 6-Series routinely hits the 900-nit mark in HDR. The tradeoff, of course, is that quantum dot TVs like the Samsung Q90T and the TCL 6-Series are incapable of producing near-perfect black levels due to the limitations of their panels. The Vizio OLED might only get half as bright as these TVs, but if you were to look at all three side by side, the Vizio OLED's overall contrast would stand out as the most impressive—at least when it comes to shadow detail.
Where OLED's limitations start to matter, however, is in brightly lit rooms. You might find that trading the rich, deep black levels of an OLED TV for the searing brightness of a QLED to be a worthwhile tradeoff if your living room receives a good amount of sunlight.
It's all a matter of preference, really, but we'd be lying if we said that we weren't a little bit disappointed in the Vizio OLED's brightness ceiling. It's on par with this year's LG BX OLED TV (though the BX also offers a better overall picture) and neither is quite as bright as the LG CX. The CX can climb as high as 600-700 nits while receiving an HDR signal, but you'll have to pay about $500 more for the jump.
Update (October 7, 2020):
To add some context to our brightness measurements above, it is worth noting that Vizio claims its OLED has a peak brightness of 800 nits. We did find this to be possible, but only under idealized lab conditions which involve making several tweaks that we do not recommend.
We measured a peak brightness reading of 800+ nits with a 10% loading pattern (10% white box against a 90% black backdrop), but this measurement was taken while the Vizio OLED was set to its “Vivid” picture mode, which sets “Tone Mapping” to 100 and “Color Temperature” to “Cool.” We also needed to change the TV’s “Peak Luminance” setting to “High.” That said, when the Vizio OLED is in “Calibrated” mode with default settings, the peak brightness varies between 500-600 nits, as reported above. This is roughly in line with the LG BX.
Vizio's SmartCast platform still lacks flexibility
SmartCast (Vizio's smart platform) has come a long way in the last several years, and it's plainly evident that Vizio has made its development a priority. Still, while most of the platform's sluggishness has been ironed out in this new version, SmartCast is still a less-than-ideal streaming solution for folks who might be looking for a flexible, customizable experience.
The usual suspects are all accounted for right out of the box; SmartCast includes Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, YouTube, and more. There's even Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast support. That said, the most amount of customizing that users can hope to achieve is determining how these built-in apps are presented across the user interface. In other words, if you're looking to download apps beyond the ones that are baked into SmartCast, we recommend investing in an external streaming device. You can add apps to a smartphone and "cast" content to the TV, but that comes with its own limitations.
Should You Buy It?
Yes, especially if you're looking for a great deal on an OLED TV
Vizio's first OLED offers up some of the best picture performance we've seen in 2020, and Vizio should be lauded for its first foray into the world of OLED technology. The TV's impressive contrast, color, and overall performance will not surprise anyone who's familiar with OLED TVs, and the lack of surprises here is certainly a mark in its favor.
That said, it's hard not to be a bit disappointed in the Vizio OLED's lack of oomph when it comes to overall brightness. While it's in line with what we've seen from its closest competitor, the LG BX, there was an opportunity here for Vizio to take the inside track and best its competition in both price and performance.
All told, the Vizio OLED delivers the goods where it matters: You're getting terrific performance and cutting-edge features that will help maintain its value for years to come. If its middling brightness is a concern, the LG CX and Sony A8H offer a better, brighter picture, but they're higher in cost. It's also worth noting that if you opt for the Sony A8H, you won't be getting HDMI 2.1 support—a big part of the Vizio OLED's appeal.
As of today, the Vizio OLED is the most affordable way to secure a brand new OLED TV, and crucially, it doesn't at all feel like a significant step down from its closest competitor. There's plenty of room for improvement, but for now, Vizio's inaugural OLED is worthy of celebration.
Meet the testers
Senior Staff Writer@Reviewed
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.
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