Good contrast for the price
eARC and ALLM support
Wide selection of sizes
Doesn't get very bright
Lackluster smart platform
The V-Series’ affordability makes it a perfect choice for folks who want to lock down a gigantic, 65-inch (or bigger) TV without cracking $1,000. Its performance is just fair, but it packs some features that are relatively hard to come by in this price bracket.
Of course, there’s some fine print: Its limited viewing angles make it a less-than-ideal 70- or 75-inch option, its Dolby Vision HDR certification is undercut by a lack of brightness, and Vizio’s smart platform isn’t nearly as flexible as TVs with Roku baked in.
Still, the V-Series packs a ton of value for the price, and it’s worthy of consideration for non-fussy shoppers who are just looking to upgrade on a budget.
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 V-Series
The Vizio V-Series is available in nine sizes, ranging from 40 inches all the way up to 75. Our review unit is the 50-inch model, which we purchased and tested with its out-of-the-box settings.
Here's how each of the sizes in the series shake out in terms of pricing:
- 40-inch (Vizio V405-H19), MSRP $229.99
- 43-inch (Vizio V435-H1), MSRP $279.99
- 50-inch (Vizio V505-H19), MSRP $299.99
- 55-inch (Vizio V555-H1), MSRP $389.99
- 58-inch (Vizio V585-H11), MSRP $399.99
- 60-inch (Vizio V605-H3), MSRP $399.99
- 65-inch (Vizio V655-H9), MSRP $469.99
- 70-inch (Vizio V705-H13), MSRP $659.99
- 75-inch (Vizio 755-H4), MSRP $779.99
Different sizes of TVs in a series tend to perform very similarly to one another, so we don't expect there to be major differences between each size in the 2020 Vizio V-Series. That said, due to the series' lack of local dimming, you might experience variation in uniformity and light bloom across sizes. We found no major uniformity issues with our 50-inch review unit, but your mileage may vary, particularly with the 70- and 75-inch models.
Here's a rundown of key specifications shared by all sizes in the series:
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
- Display type: VA, direct LED
- Local dimming: No
- HDR support: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision
- Dolby Atmos: Yes
- eARC support: Yes
- Native refresh rate: 60 Hz
- Smart platform: Yes (Vizio SmartCast)
- Color: DCI-P3/10-bit color space
- Processor: IQ Active
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): No
- Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes
- Other features: Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple AirPlay, and Chromecast integration
The Vizio V-Series offers Google Assistant and Alexa integration. Its built-in smart platform, SmartCast, features Chromecast and Apple AirPlay functionality, which allow you to stream content to the TV from a mobile device.
The V-Series also supports Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) right out of the box (though Variable Refresh rate is not). Included in the box is the latest version of Vizio’s remote control, which features dedicated app buttons for Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video.
The TV’s design is about as basic as you’d expect for the price. Its panel is supported by two angular feet close to the corners, and while it feels sturdy and wobble-free, you ought to make sure that your TV table can accommodate such widely placed feet if you’re eyeing the largest sizes in the series.
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. Our 50-inch V-Series received this standard warm-up time before any readings were taken.
For SDR tests, we used Vizio's "Calibrated" picture setting. For HDR tests, we used the TV's "Calibrated HDR10" picture setting. We’ve chosen these settings because of their accuracy, but results may vary depending on which picture mode is enabled.
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): 220.8 nits/0.036 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• SDR contrast (brightness/black level): 202.3 nits/0.030 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• HDR peak brightness: 232 nits (50% white window)
• HDR color gamut coverage: 79% (DCI-P3/10-bit)
• SDR color gamut coverage: 97% (Rec.709)
The Vizio V-Series offers a standard selection of connectivity inputs for a TV in its price range. All of the ports can be found in two cutouts on the back of the panel.
• 3x HDMI 2.0b (1x eARC)
• 1x USB 2.0
• LAN ethernet port, RF input, optical audio output, analog audio output
An argument can be made that the Vizio V-Series features HDMI 2.1 compatibility, but without the ability to display 4K content at 120 Hz, the distinction doesn’t mean very much.
What We Like
Decent picture quality for the cost
Although the Vizio V-Series has its fair share of shortcomings in the performance category (which I’ll get into shortly), the series’ overall picture quality is about as good as you can expect for a TV in the entry-level price bracket. It’s not likely to impress anyone with a discerning eye, but for folks who are just now upgrading to 4K, the V-Series offers a dependably decent picture.
The V-Series may not get very bright, but its black levels are deep enough that the dimness of the picture won’t be distracting unless you’re situated in a brightly lit room. All told, we were impressed with the TV’s contrast, which is on par with the TCL 4-Series.
And while the V-Series is not cut out for the extra-wide color gamut available with HDR content, its colors during standard content—that is, 1080p Blu-rays, most streaming shows, and cable TV—will look good enough to immerse yourself. The V-Series upscales full-HD content to 4K with competence and, according to our lab tests, covers about 97% of the Rec.709 color standard.
It has some fancy features for a TV in this price bracket
When it comes to extra features, the V-Series goes above and beyond, starting with its surprisingly robust support for all of the major HDR formats: HDR10+, HLG, and Dolby Vision. Given the TV’s technical limitations, HDR content won’t exactly shine as intended, but it’s nice to have the compatibility in tow if the option is available.
Vizio markets the V-Series as being HDMI 2.1-compatible, but since the panel isn’t equipped to take advantage of the format’s high-bandwidth capabilities, it’s best to think of the V-Series as a full-bandwidth, HDMI 2.0 TV with a couple of HDMI 2.1-related flourishes.
It features eARC support, making it capable of passing high-resolution audio to sound systems that support it. This makes the V-Series a fantastic budget-friendly solution for those hoping to make Dolby Atmos the centerpiece of their home theater. It also supports Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), another HDMI 2.1-related feature which automatically enables the TV’s low-latency game mode when a gaming console’s input is selected.
The V-Series’ lack of Variable Refresh Rate—as well as its limited 60 Hz refresh rate—make it a less-than-ideal choice for folks who own (or plan on owning) the PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series X, but an entry-level TV that features ALLM is still a rare commodity in today’s TV market. You won’t find this feature on the TCL 4-Series.
What We Don’t Like
HDR support doesn’t mean much without brightness
The V-Series is not a good fit for folks whose living rooms receive a steady amount of ambient light, be it natural or artificial. This is because the V-Series’ brightness is more or less capped around 300 nits, even in the TV’s brightest picture modes.
As a result, HDR content of all stripes—be it HDR10 or Dolby Vision—doesn’t look that much different than SDR content. The lack of distinction between the V-Series’ output in SDR and HDR should be a red flag for anyone hoping to experience HDR content with the proper oomph, but it’s also important to recognize that this TV will only really look its best in darker settings.
At its peak in its most accurate picture mode, we clocked the V-Series at around 230 nits—similar to the TCL 4-Series but not quite in the 300- to 400-nit range, which is where the pricier Samsung TU8000 and the TCL 5-Series live.
You might be able to boost that figure a bit if you put the TV in a brighter picture mode, but it's not enough to change the fact that the Vizio V-Series just isn’t a very good HDR TV, despite being an all-around OK TV for everything else. If you want a big, bright TV to show off High Dynamic Range, you’ll have to leave this price bracket for greener pastures.
Narrow viewing angles and subpar motion handling
Like most entry-level LED TVs with VA-style panels, the Vizio V-Series’ picture begins to degrade the moment you move away from a direct, head-on view of the screen. During off-angle viewing, colors tend to shift and the picture’s contrast shrinks significantly, so anyone watching from seats off to the side will be left a bit bleary-eyed after a while.
This is especially critical to keep in mind if you’re hoping to take advantage of the ultra-affordability of the 65-, 70-, and 75-inch versions of the V-Series. Yes, these TVs are incredibly inexpensive for their size, but they’re not as accommodating for group viewings as you might be hoping.
The V-Series native 60 Hz refresh rate isn’t a surprising spec, as most entry-level TVs don’t offer a full 120 Hz, but you ought to be aware of its limitations—particularly if you’re shopping for a next-generation gaming companion. The motion performance suffers most during fast-paced content (like sports, action movies, and video games), and there’s not much in the way of software enhancements to take the edge off.
The V-Series will support 4K gaming at 60 FPS, but its lack of Variable Refresh Rate and its lackluster motion handling make it somewhat of a compromise. It’s a decent compromise, to be clear, but a compromise nonetheless.
Vizio’s smart platform isn’t the most flexible
Vizio’s proprietary smart platform, SmartCast, is easily the V-Series’ biggest pain point. It’s particularly painful when you consider the fact that its main competitor—the TCL 4-Series—is a Roku TV, utilizing our favorite smart platform on the market.
When it comes to apps, SmartCast offers most of the usual suspects of the streaming world; Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and Disney+ are all accounted for. Unfortunately, there’s no way for users to download and install new apps; any additions to the V-Series’ stable of software come in the form of Vizio-sanctioned updates.
With a Roku TV like the TCL 4-Series, you’re getting the full Roku experience without the need of an external streaming device. And since the Roku experience comes with a massive, ever-expanding library of downloadable content (not to mention frequent software updates), prospective buyers in search of a main streaming hub will be getting far more bang for their buck with Roku than they will with SmartCast.
Of course, you could always offset this blow by pairing the V-Series with an external streaming device that runs on Roku, but we’ll always prefer the built-in functionality of a Roku TV.
Should You Buy It?
Yes—but only if you’re on a strict budget.
The V-Series is a decent entry-level TV, but its stiff competition gives it a run for its money in the all-important entry-level category. Its HDR performance might be a wash, but you’re still getting commendable performance for most other content, along with sought-after features like Auto Low Latency Mode and eARC support.
If your chief concern is landing the best possible smart platform, consider the TCL 4-Series. You’ll probably love how easy it is to use as well as its vast library of content, and its overall performance is similar to the V-Series. That said, if you want to lock down eARC support and/or Auto Low Latency Mode, you won’t find those on the TCL 4-Series. The 4-Series isn't brighter, either—it's about as dim as the V-Series.
If you can’t decide between the V-Series and the 4-Series, you could always pay a little more for the TCL 5-Series which will net you Auto Low Latency Mode, eARC support, and built-in Roku functionality. The 5-Series also features more voluminous color reproduction and gets much brighter on average. If you ask me, the small difference in cost between the V-Series and the 5-Series is worth it for the extra brightness alone.
The Vizio V-Series is an all-around decent TV that’ll satisfy non-fussy viewers who want to upgrade to something big and affordable. Just be sure to explore the alternatives first, especially if you’re on the hunt for a TV whose brightness makes HDR content stand out.
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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