On the Fence About 4K? VIZIO may Have Your Solution


VIZIO is a brand that we have affectionately covered on more than one occasion, and for good reason. To put it simply, VIZIO makes great high-definition televisions. That doesn’t tell the complete story though; the company makes great HDTVs at prices that won’t leave you staring hopelessly through store windows—you can save that sort of behavior for sports-car watching. This California-based company’s knack for turning window shoppers into HDTV owners isn’t just the allure of a reasonable price tag; it’s a well-documented effectiveness at balancing price and performance—performance often rivaling televisions that cost much more, providing customers with a tangible value they can see with their eyes and feel in their wallets. For years, VIZIO’s Full HD televisions have garnered praise from industry insiders and consumers alike as the company has become a powerful player in the home entertainment market. Its 4K TVs are now a force to be reckoned with, as well. So, as the number of 4K TVs on the market begins to rival that of 1080p TVs, and consumers decide if an upgrade is in the cards, VIZIO has a few options that will make consumers strongly consider taking the next step in resolution.

High Definition over the Years

Like the birth of my children, I can vividly recall the purchase and unboxing of my first high-definition television, a floor-standing, 50-inch rear projection model that rivaled the size of my refrigerator, packed with eye-opening 720p native resolution. The TV I just described obviously isn’t spectacular by today’s standards. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a rear projection TV anywhere these days, but it was a quantum leap in resolution from the standard definition cathode ray tube (CRT) TV it replaced. Back then there was no convincing me that I wasn’t making a sound investment in my home entertainment future, a position I stand by to this day when my wife mockingly mentions all the effort it took to get our monstrous new TV home. If I’m being honest with myself though, there were a few things my old CRT TV did a bit better than the HDTV that replaced it, black-level performance and off-angle viewing, to name a couple, so maybe I didn’t “need” a new TV after all, but after seeing my first high-definition image in person I was sold—the resolution was simply compelling, and that was all the justification I needed.

“We’ve gone from HD 1280 x 720 resolutions to pixel-packing 4K or Ultra High-Definition (UHD) 3840 x 2160 resolutions, with even more advancements waiting in the wings.”

That was more than a decade ago, and there have been a lot of technological advancements in high-definition technology since the days where HDTVs first became the must-have component in family rooms and man caves everywhere. We’ve gone from HD 1280 x 720 resolutions to pixel-packing 4K or Ultra High-Definition (UHD) 3840 x 2160 resolutions, with even more advancements waiting in the wings. Even the connectors we use on our HDTVs have changed; component video ports have practically faded to the background, making way for simplified HDMI connections, which have seen some advancements of their own in the past few years. Luckily, prices have also seen an evolution, and in our favor. Spend some time with early adopters and videophiles and you’ll likely hear old but true tales of first generation high-definition and flat panel TVs with sticker prices that compared to some used cars. Also to our benefit, manufacturers like VIZIO entered the market, making high-definition technology accessible to the masses.

Full HD and 4K Content

While accessibility is a great first step in getting technology into the hands of consumers and end users, the appeal of having more pixels may not be enough to entice customers to upgrade their existing high-definition televisions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for having the highest resolution possible, but to enjoy the experience to its fullest potential, you’re going to need matching high-resolution content to display on your television. While there’s plenty of 720p, 1080i, and 1080p content available by way of over-the-air, streaming, and disc-based content like Blu-ray media and gaming consoles, we’re still waiting for the influx of 4K content to become readily available. In all fairness, when high-definition televisions first hit the market, there weren’t nearly as many high-definition video sources available as there are today, and while cable and satellite providers did offer some early content, the options were few, steadily expanding over time.

As 4K set-top boxes and Blu-ray players appear to be on the horizon, it is possible and likely that the 4K content surge we’ve been waiting for is just around the corner. For those of us who have already entered the 4K arena, a few 4K streaming options are already available from Internet streaming providers such as Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube. While bandwidth and compression issues may arise when streaming over the Internet, it’s still a great option for feeding high-resolution content to 4K TVs.

Viewing Options from VIZIO

Now that we’ve discussed the current state of 4K and what we hope to see in the near future, let’s look at some UHD TVs from VIZIO and highlight some of their standout features, the greatest of which is their ability to allow you to enjoy the Full HD and 4K content that is already available while enabling you to be prepared for the 4K content that is yet to come. If you’re debating the need for a 4K television, “need” being a relative term, or if you’re not sure it’s worth upgrading from your existing HDTV, the three televisions we have highlighted in this article are worthy of your consideration. At 43, 55, and 75 inches, they are made to accommodate a variety of room sizes. Whether you have a studio apartment or a sprawling mansion, VIZIO aims to please. While the advantages of 4K may not be as easy to discern on smaller TVs as it is on larger TVs, even smaller displays are capable of displaying fine image detail. As with all high-definition televisions, your experience can differ, depending on your viewing distance and the quality of your viewing material.

VIZIO M-Series 4K TVs

The M43-C1, M55-C2, and M75-C1 are a part of VIZIO’s expansive and impressive lineup of M-Series 4K TVs. While they differ in screen size, each of these TVs is equipped with 3840 x 2160 native resolution and features VIZIO’s Spatial Scaling Engine upscaling algorithm. The goal of this technology is to deliver near-4K picture quality from your lower-resolution video sources, including over-the-air, Blu-ray, and video game content. While VIZIO’s Spatial Scaling Engine can't recreate pixels that don’t exist in the original source material, it will allow you to enjoy enhanced image quality from your standard and high-definition video sources, a welcome feature until more native 4K content becomes available. Further contributing to overall image quality is the inclusion of local dimming Active LED Zone backlighting. This backlight technology helps the M-Series deliver optimized image contrast and black-level performance, key components that affect image depth and shadow detail.

Regardless of the resolution of your video sources, if you watch a lot of fast-moving content like action movies or televised sporting events, you will likely appreciate VIZIO’s Clear Action technology. This motion technology combines the TV’s effective refresh rate and internal image processing to produce clear and fluid on-screen motion and image pans. Thanks to built-in V6 six-core processing, which consists of dual-core and quad-core CPUs, fluid operation can also be experienced when navigating TV menus and the on-board Smart TV interface, which we’ll be discussing shortly. With the inclusion of a remote control that doubles as a backlit QWERTY keyboard, system navigation is designed to be simple and intuitive, two things we expect from TVs of this caliber.

Of all the notable features we’ve highlighted, connectivity deserves to be applauded, as well. With an impressive 5 HDMI inputs, you be well prepared for all your high-definition source component connections. And because VIZIO believes that options are a good thing, USB and component video ports are also available. If you’re concerned about Internet access, the M-Series TVs have you covered there, as well, as each of these models features Ethernet and built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity. Once connected, VIZIO’s Internet Apps Plus Smart TV interface allows you to enjoy free and subscription-based streaming material, including 4K content where available. Streaming media has emerged as a dominant entertainment source, and these VIZIO TVs enable viewers to immerse themselves in a library of Internet content, including TV programs, movies, music, and more.

What if 4K Doesn’t Become “a Thing?”

Technology moves fast, sometimes too fast. With 8K TVs rumored to be hitting the market sometime in the future, you may be wondering if you should skip 4K all together. Well, if history has taught us anything, it’s that despite its rapid rate of change, technology takes time to mature. 4K source components are slowly but surely becoming a reality. Sure, some manufacturers may race to produce 8K TVs as quickly as possible, but there is no guarantee that content providers will immediately follow suit. Consumer demand also plays an important role in this process. Introducing new resolutions isn’t as simple as packing more pixels into a display, and mainstream adoption doesn’t happen overnight. Luckily, VIZIO’s value-driven approach allows consumers to feel confident in knowing that even if 4K doesn’t become the high-definition standard bearer it was poised to be, they have a high-definition TV that’s equally adept at handling seasoned 720p, 1080i, and 1080p viewing material, for which the content options are plentiful.

VIZIO Makes 4K Compelling

Upgrading to the latest and greatest technology isn’t always as easy as we would like, and its necessity isn’t always apparent as it was when we made the leap from standard definition to high definition. However, if you’ve seen a 4K TV in action, paired with a pristine UHD video source, then you know the potential and benefit this resolution provides, especially when viewed on larger TVs like the aforementioned VIZIO M75-C1. Technology doesn’t stand still for anyone, and the next technological advancement is always on someone’s research-and-development bulletin board. This doesn’t mean we can’t fully enjoy what’s currently available, especially from manufacturers like VIZIO, who continue to deliver a great mix of value and performance. If you need help deciding which VIZIO 4K TV is right for your high-definition video sources, feel free to call the home entertainment experts at B&H—we’ll be more than happy to help you select the right components for your viewing environment and enjoying the highest resolution possible.