Vizio is traditionally known for cheap TVs, but in 2013 it's doubling down on its foray into step-up, feature-rich (read: slightly more expensive) territory with the 4K XVT models announced at CES and the all-new non-4K "M" series detailed here.
The company's newest M range of LED-based LCD TVs goes from 32 inches up to the company's first 80-inch model, the M801d pictured above. All of the sizes in the series are shipping now to retailers nationwide including Best Buy, Amazon, and Walmart.
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 ($729), the 50-inch M501d ($799), the 55-inch M551d ($1,199), the 60-inch M601d ($1,599), the 65-inch M651d ($1,999), the 70-inch M701d ($2,499), and the 80-inch M801d ($3,999).
No other maker aside from Sharp has announced an 80-inch LCD that we know of (crazy-expensive 84-inch 4K sets notwithstanding), and price of the Vizio M801d roughly matches that of the cheapest 80-inch 2013 Sharp, the LC-80LE650U. The Vizio's feature set, however, outdoes the Sharp's.
The 50-inch and larger "M" TVs have an edge-lit LED backlight with local dimming (16 zones) -- the same technology that caused us to laud the picture quality of the 2012 M3D0KD series. They also have passive 3D, and Vizio says eight pairs of passive 3D glasses will be included in the box of every 3D set.
The 32-, 40- and 47-inch "M" TVs get a 120Hz "effective refresh rate" and no 3D, but do keep local dimming.
In conversations with Vizio, it turns out "effective" means that the smaller sets actually have 60Hz panels (with no ability to enact the smoothing Soap Opera Effect) while the larger ones use 120Hz panels and can engage SOE. The company says backlight scanning is used to achieve the higher effective refresh rates, although in my review of the so-called 120Hz E420i-A1, it behaved more like a 60Hz TV.
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 semigloss 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. Dubbed "Vizio Internet Apps (VIA) Plus," it now supports HTML5, enabling more apps (although the current selection isn't bad) and faster performance.
The Ms also get a fancy backlit remote that works via Wi-Fi, allowing it to 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. Update: According to Vizio, the Wi-Fi and universal remote capabilities won't be available initially; instead they will be activated via an automatic Internet-delivered update sometime during the summer.
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 exceedingly thin bezel, resulting in a look that's seemingly all picture. Aside from that Vizio logo jutting from the lower-right, of course. According to the press release: "The base and neck feature unique interior metal construction for added stability, while the beautiful metallic finish complements the design and helps set the new standard for home entertainment perfection."
Below you'll find a video from CES 2013. We'll have more when we get the chance to review one of the new M TVs.