LAS VEGAS--Vizio is traditionally known for cheap TVs, but at CES 2013 it's doubling down on its foray into step-up, feature-rich (read: slightly more expensive) territory with the 4K XVT models and the all-new "M" series.
The company's M range LED-based LCD TVs goes from 32- up to the company's first 80-inch model, the M801d pictured above. All of the sizes in the series should ship in the first half with the exception of the 80-incher, which is a second-half product. Pricing was not announced, but knowing Vizio it will be extremely competitive.
No other maker aside from Sharp has announced an 80-inch LCD that we know of (crazy-expensive 84-inch 4K sets notwithstanding), and we expect the Vizio M801d to undercut the price of Sharp models like the LC-80LE632U (now about $5,000) when it launches. Of course, Sharp should also announce new 80- or even 90-inch sets at CES, too. And while I'm saying "of course," don't buy a jumbo LCD, buy a projector.
In all the M series comprises a whopping nine sizes, with the following suggested retail prices: the 32-inch M321i ($399), 40-inch M401i ($529), 47-inch M471i ($699), the 50-inch M501d ($849), the 55-inch M551d ($1199), the 60-inch M601d ($1599), the 65-inch M651d ($1999), the 70-inch M701d ($2499), and the 80-inch M801d ($4499).
The 50-inch and larger "M" TVs have an edge-lit LED backlight with local dimming (16 zones) from an edge-lit LED backlight -- the same technology that caused us to laud the picture quality of the 2012 M3D0KD series. They also have a 240Hz refresh rate and passive 3D. Vizio says eight pairs of passive 3D glasses will be included in the box of the 80-incher; I say divide by screen size by 10 (rounding up) to estimate the number of glasses included on the smaller sizes.
The 32- and 47-inch "M" TVs get 120Hz processing and no 3D, but do keep local dimming.
Vizio also mentioned that like all of its 65-inch passive 3D TVs, the 65-inch M651d will have the glass pattern retarder finish, which results in the glossy screen we disliked so much on models like the M3D651SV. The other 3D sizes will have a matte or at least semi-gloss film pattern retarder, like the M3D0KD, while the smaller non-3D sets will be straight matte.
Beyond picture quality, Vizio has also improved its Smart TV suite on the M series compared with the step-down E series models. It now supports HTML5, enabling more apps and faster performance. The Ms also get a fancy backlit remote that works via Wi-Fi, allowing it work without needing line-of-sight. Two-way communication with the TV also allows a user to set up the remote to control other devices easily, using the TV's user interface. In the past we've liked Vizio's universal remote setup routine, so this should be even nicer.
Speaking of nicer, the design of the Ms looks better than anything yet from Vizio. The open stand reminds me of LG's best efforts, as does the bezel width: just 2 millimeters, resulting in a look that's seemingly all picture. Aside from that Vizio logo jutting from the lower-right, of course.