Vizio: We've made the best TV in the world
LAS VEGAS -- TV makers routinely boast about picture quality, but when a claim like "Best TV in the World" comes from a company like Vizio -- best known for its bargain boob tubes -- it seems especially far-fetched.
The television in question is the Vizio Reference Series, new for 2014. The company is announcing 65- and 120-inch versions at CES 2014. The latter is the largest shipping TV announced this year, as far as I know, beating out Samsung's 110-inch S9.
In Vizio's own words: "Starting from scratch and building from the ground up, Reference Series sets a new benchmark for best-in-class TV." To prove its mettle it has to outperform OLED models like the Samsung KN55S9C and a bunch of new LGs, plasmas like the Panasonic ZT60 and Samsung PNF8500, and fellow flagship LED LCD TVs like the LG UB9800 and the aforementioned Samsung S9, which seems its closest competitor.
The Reference Series has all the bona fides required on paper. 4K resolution. A color gamut that approaches the lofty heights of Rec 2020, something never before claimed by any TV. A true 10-bit panel, for finer color gradations. A full-array local dimming LED LCD backlight, complete with 384 zones and "incredibly precise" control thanks to "Active Pixel Tuning." A searing 800-nit Ultra Bright backlight combined with Dolby's own HDR processing for more realistic contrast.
Vizio also notes some mouth-watering processing specs. A "motion rate of 1,800" might be inflated, but in any case the TV should bust blur with the best of 'em. It has a quad-core GPU and dual-core CPU power image and graphics processing as well as Smart TV. A pair of dedicated engines handle upconversion, detail enhancement, and gamma control, while simultaneously reducing noise and artifacts. The TV can even display games at 120 frames per second, and film at both 24 and 48fps. Now if only New Line would release a compatible HFR version of "The Hobbit."
Connectivity includes five HDMI inputs, all blessed with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 compliance. The requisite HEVC decoding is also onboard, hardware-based, for efficient 4K streaming from so-enabled apps like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Like Vizio's other 4K TVs, it also supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, with "dual-band MIMO support for UHD streaming."
All these specs and more amount to a videophile's dream LCD TV -- if that's not a contradiction in terms. And there is precedent. The best LED LCD TV we've ever reviewed, Sharp's Elite, impressed videophiles enough to win a prestigious shootout. The Reference Series is a similar beast on paper, and if Vizio can deliver on its promises, a new videophile king will be crowned. At least until OLEDs get bigger.
Beyond its picture, the Reference series also sports improved sound thanks to a modular, detachable sound bar, included, separate left and right rear speakers and a 10-inch subwoofer -- although for a TV that's bound to drain your bank account anyway, a third-party dedicated sound system is probably in order.
Vizio TVs aren't known for their cutting-edge styling, but the company's description does its darnedest to overcome that perception. It mentions "high-end style" with "meticulously detailed craftsmanship, hand-assembled with finest material and innovative construction," a "solid metal base...machined...to perfect the surfacing and finish" and "near edge-to-edge display."
So, yeah, on paper the Vizio Reference series seems to back up its claims, and in a brief demo of preproduction units I saw little to contradict its lofty aims. I can't wait to see how the picture looks during a review of a full production sample in my lab. Vizio assured me it would ship this year, so we'll see.