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Vizio M401i Review (M401i-A3)

40 inch 1080p 120Hz Smart LED TV

by , Senior Editor

Vizio M401i LED TVThe 40 inch Vizio M401i is an excellent TV for the budget shoppers looking to fill a small to medium sized space. It's got everything a new TV in 2013 should have, plus an excellent price tag to boot. The retail value is just above $500. That's a great deal considering what this TV has to offer. The 120Hz refresh rate and Vizio Internet Apps smart TV platform are where the value really shines. It's going to be a lot of trouble trying to find a TV in this price range with a similar feature set.

Strengths

  • Features and Options
  • Vizio offers a very good balance of Price versus Value with the M series
  • Smart TV Apps selection is solid for the price
  • Ultra think quarter inch black bezel

    Weaknesses

  • Screen Uniformity issues if the Backlight is set too high
  • Off center contrast and color degrades at angles
  • No actual buttons on the side, bottom, or back of TV (what happens with no remote?)
  • Limited Remote control/menu functionality (feels dated)

    Neutral

  • The open square silver stand design
  • 2D picture quality with HD content
  • Black levels aren't the best, but better than some value TVs on the market
  • 3 HDMI inputs and 1 USB port

    Picture Quality Rating: 8.2/10

    The overall picture quality of this TV will depend a lot on the picture mode you select. Black levels are reasonably saturated, and the TV certainly has plenty of brightness in whites thanks to the backlight. Image edges don't compete with some of the better Sony TVs on the market, but they were far from bad. From a calibrated picture setting, we noticed a slight push toward yellow/green in color rendition. There is only a 2 point calibration option and no Warm white balance settings. See our calibration settings for more on picture settings. See some of the other picture mode options below.

    Included Preset Picture Modes

    Vizio always has lots of Picture Modes to choose from, never as good as a calibrated picture setting but it's nice to have choices:
    Vivid – Over-amped in every way
    Standard – Comes with contrast set to 80 and brightness 50, backlight
    Game – Some TVs have hidden the Game mode but Vizio makes it easy to find right there in the Picture mode settings. It's specifically designed to reduce lag time during gaming using a combination of LED lighting, panel refresh rate, and internal processing.
    Computer Mode – Very unusual but useful to have this right there in the Picture mode options.
    Calibrated – Another very unusual but useful mode to choose from, this is the best setting out of the box, but the TV may have a slight yellow, green ;push here.
    Calibrated Dark – Obviously this mode is for use in a dark room environment. We thought it was overly dim.

    Note: From Calibrated Mode we found it unusual that there was no Warm color temperature setting. The color temp setting in the more adavnced menu was set to normal when in Calibrated mode. The other color temperature options are Cool, Computer, and Custom.

    120Hz Processing

    The smaller M series TVs drop the 240Hz refresh rate in favor of a 120Hz panel. This isn't necessarily a downgrade since the noticeable difference between 120 and 240 is much smaller than the 60 to 120 jump. Plus, as the screens get smaller it gets harder still to tell the difference. The 120Hz processing does a good job at smoothing fast action and motion blur on the M401i. There is some programming where this feature will produce unwanted effects, but a quick disabling of the feature will solve that problem. The faster processing panel is also great for games that involve a lot of camera movement.

    Local Dimming

    Local dimming (Smart Dimming feature) on the M401i works to control brightness and contrast in specific areas of the TV. Though we do not see a whole lot of difference when utilizing the feature, it provides a glimpse at better processing and LED lighting on this TV vs. lower end. The specific areas are known as zones and the screen on this TV is divided up into 16 of them. That's not as many as some of the other local dimming LED TVs out there, but the effect is subtle but good. The zones are able to darken individual areas of the screen for higher contrast in dark scenes.

    Features Rating: 8/10

    Internet Features

    The Vizio M series pushes the Vizio Internets Apps, or V.I.A. smart TV platform. It brings just about all the Premium Apps you are really going to use, or need, to the living room. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Hulu Plus, M Go, Netflix, Pandora, Rhapsody, VUDU, Amazon, and Yahoo! TV Widgets are a few of the long list that can be accessed right out of the box. Vizio's Apps selection and menu seem somewhat out of date and with the exception of the dedicated Apps buttons on the remote does not work extremely efficiently. The V button in the middle of the remote accesses Smart TV function is not labeled.

    The Apps options choices are very complete except for Skype.

    Appearance and Design – Uninspired but not Tired

    The M401i goes the extra mile and includes an ultra slim quarter inch black gloss bezel that surrounds the edge to edge glass of the screen. A very advanced look for a value TV. The silver metal base and neck are give it a solid construction and feel. The profile is razor thin at around 2 inches and competes with some of the most advanced LED TVs on the market. Unlike other manufacturers Vizio places their logo on the bottom right of the TV which leaves the middle bottom front looking somewhat empty. Overall a good B-grade design.

    Wifi Remote Control

    The buttons on the remote are too small in many cases. There are dedicated Smart TV and 3D buttons as well as Netflix, M Go, and Amazon for quick access to those Apps.

    Vizio M401i Remote

    This TV includes Wifi Direct universal remote. That means the remote works with the TV's built in wifi. You won't need line of sight like traditional remotes for the TV to pick up a button press. It's a great addition and adds to the ease of use Vizio is going for.

    Value Bang for the Buck Rating: 9.1/10

    The 40 inch M401d sells for a modest $549 and is very attractively priced for this size. The Sony KDL-40R450R and the Samsung UN40F5000 offer comparable comparison. This TV should be a great seller.

    Overall Rating: 8.4/10

    Quick Specs

    • Diagonal Measurement: 40.00"
    • Dimensions With Stand: 36.28” W x 23.23” H x 7.87” D
    • Dimensions Without Stand: 36.28” W x 21.54” H x 2.02” D
    • Weight With Stand: 27.78 lbs
    • Weight Without Stand: 24.47 lbs
    • 1920 X 1080 Full HD Resolution
    • 3 HDMI and 1 USB Ports


    Robert Wiley Having reviewed and written about Television Technology for over 10 years, Wiley never tires of researching the newest qualitative trends related to the technology. Most people do not get excited about possibilities behind the latest video engine...Wiley does. Read more about Robert
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