Vizio M-Series Review M50-C1 2015
50 inch 4K Full-Array LED TV
by Robert Wiley, Senior Editor
The Vizio M50-C1 is a value oriented 50 inch 4K LED TV that we were eagerly awaiting. The M-series has 32 active zones of full array backlighting compared to the 64 on the P-series 4K Vizio. The Clear Action Rate is also reduced to 360 on this model from 960 on the P-series. But we believe there have been a few nice technological improvements in this TV as Vizio has had more time to work in the UHD space, especially in the all important upscaling area. Vizio's new spacial scaling engine is much improved for this year. Pricing for this new Vizio offering looks to be a gamechanger for this year.
- Color and Light Flowthrough
- Picture Definition, Clarity, Image edges
- Gaming Input Lag
- V6 processor with Quod Core GPU do a great job with Amazon and Netflix Apps (once you get it working)
- Side Angle Viewing Contrast and Color Loss not severe
- 5 HDMI inputs (but only 1 USB)
- Visual artifacts and image edge enhancement
- Sometimes even with Reduce Judder turned off the TV still over-clarified images
- No 3D compatibility
- No Internet Browser
- QWERTY keyboard virtually useless without browser
- Yahoo! Apps selection
- Judder/Motion Lag when turning off Reduce Judder but a necessary tradeoff to a more natural picture
- Screen Glare not too intrusive from semi-matte screen
Picture Quality Rating: 92/100
There is a lot to discuss in picture quality. There are not a plethora of options out there for 4K content and this makes testing and evaluation more difficult. This means that upscaling to the native 4K resolution of the panel takes on significant importance in our evaluation since most everything you will currently watch (1080p HD, 720p HD, 480p/i standard def) will have to be upscaled. This places prime importance on the processing ad upscaling engine . For this reason, we choose to rate the picture quality rating and notes based mostly on those lower resolution signals rather than 4K. The picture quality understandably varies based on the source. BluRay, Broadcast and streaming video from the Amazon Instant App are very defined and excellent, taking advantage of some of that 4K resolution. Netflix content was somewhat softer, but still accurate and colorful.
Vizio M50-C1 is an exceptional value with the picture quality it delivers. The 32 LED dimming Zones are a big plus as well from the BluRay version of Return of the Jedi
Upscaling and Processing
The spacial scaling engine in the M-series is responsible for upscaling from HD to UHD. Owing to the lack of the ability to stream the limited 4K content available, this is the most important qualitative aspect of 4K UHD TVs. The new M-series Vizio does an exceptional job of upconverting 1080p content. Edges are clear and detail greatly enhanced by the resolution as it should be. Why else buy a 4K TV right? Vizio gets a passing grade but nothing more as the TVs Sharpness is too much even after picture setting adjustment. Sometimes the M-series felt the need to continually show us the TV upgrading features menu in various languages, even while programming was displaying on the screen. Pressing the Menu button got rid of it, but it's an annoyance. The Pure Pixel Processing Engine is another welcome addition that reduces noise and improves picture quality from a compressed source.
Picture Setting Modes
Vivid - The TV comes preset out of the box set to the Vivid setting. The setting has a significant blue push as the Color Temperature is set to Cool. The Auto Brightness control is disabled, Backlight 90, Contrast is 50% and Sharpness 60. The normally more on the Vivid setting.
Game Mode - Gamma 2.2 with Game Low Latency setting On. Clear Action setting On. Active LED Zones Off. The Ruduce Judder and Reduce Motion Blur settings set half way 50%. This combination of the TVs features improves response rate for gaming. The Game Low Latency setting that helps reduce input lag no matter what Picture Mode you are using. The TV has incredibly low input lag in the Game Mode and we do not hesitate to recommend this model as a gaming TV.
Computer - Cuts Sharpness to 0. Gamma 2.1. Reduce Judder and Motion Blur 50%. All other advanced settings Off.
Standard - Has even more blue push than the Vivid setting also set to Color Temp Cool, backlight 58, contrast 50, color 67, sharpness 40.
Calibrated - Close to D65K out of the box. Nice warm, natural colors. Backlight 85, contrast, 50, color 50, Sharpness 30. Has an 11 point white balance adjustment and uses the Normal Color temperature. Flesh tones look warm and greens are tamped down to natural saturation. The Clear Action setting is set to Off.
Calibrated Dark - For dark room settings, dials in better black levels even better. Same exact settings as Calibrated Mode except with the Backlight dialed down to 26%.
There are only two Color Temp choices aside from Computer – Cool and Normal. Think of the Normal Color Temp as what would normally be called Warm 1. The Calibrated Mode does a good job of getting near D6500K without much dithering with the 11 point white balance.
Recommended (Calibrated) Picture Settings
Calibrated Picture Mode (Adust Backlight Up or Down depending on room light conditions)
More Picture Menu
|Backlight: 90||Black Detail: Low|
|Brightness: 50||Active LED Zones: Off|
|Contrast: 45||Reduce Judder: 0|
|Color: 58||Reduce Motion Blur: 50|
|Tint: 0||Clear Action: Off|
|Sharpness: 30||Game Low Latency: Off|
|Film Mode: On|
|Color Space: Auto|
|Color Temp: Normal|
Reduce Judder Setting
This setting comes set to 50% in all preset picture modes. It overclarifies the background introducing what some call the soap opera effect – a fake unnaturally enhanced picture. I recommend turning this setting Off for all but sports programming and Game mode. You will see a bit of judder, but that is natural.
This is an excellent example of how the upscaling makes broadcast HD signals look incredibly sharp and detailed
Black Levels and Contrast Benefit from Full Array Backlighting
One of the most notable features of the M-series is the 32 Zones of LED full array backlighting. This system beats edge lit backlighting in a couple of important ways, namely better contrast and black levels in certain situations and better side angle viewing quality. Toggling the Active LED Zones setting back and forth revealed the better contrast in areas of the picture where the feature increased contrast. While the zonal manipulation is a clear benefit, I believe the full array backlighting is the greatest qualitative difference maker here. Black levels appeared very saturated, and once calibrated colors looked great. This TVs got lots of pop for the price in the picture category.
360 Clear Action Rate – 120 Effective Refresh-Motion Lag
A 360 Clear Action Rate (720 CAR on 60” and larger) is Vizio's backlight scanning feature that amps up the native resolution of the screen for better fast action performance. There are times when this is helpful like with sports, but it should normally be kept Off. Turning the Reduce Judder setting Off will enable some noticeable judder from the 60Hz native, 120Hz effective refresh rate screen. You get used to it quickly. On the larger screen sizes of 60” and larger, the Effective Refresh Rate is increased to much welcome 240Hz.
Top notch clarity of detail and color reproduction are highlights of the Vizio 4K M series
Side Angle Viewing Quality
As usual with all LED backlit LCD TVs, the M-C series Vizio is no exception in that contrast and color saturation are reduced at side angles. However, the full array backlighting with 32 zones combined with a quality panel that doesnt product much glare do a good job to control the reduction in contrast. My best estimates are a 20% reduction in contrast from around 30 degrees off center. From 15 degrees off center, you're looking at around a 10% reduction in contrast.
Light Flowthrough Extreme
One of the greatest traits of local array LED backlit TVs is the beautiful lighting effects from on-screen windows and on-screen in room lights. It can add a neat visual effect and make programming more 3-dimensional. But it takes a little getting used to for purists as it can be extreme enough to cause the picture to look less realistic, basically diminishing natural background blur. The good news about this is that it did not often bleed over into shadows. When watching a couple of darker scenes from Star Wars we felt backlight uniformity was much better than the P-series. How it will age is another story. Often LED backlit LCD develop some clouding and uneveness in dark scenes over time.
Clarity and detail looks amazing on the Vizio M-C series.
Backlight Uniformity – Strong Performance
We mentioned before that there are 32 separate backlight zones in the M-series Vizio. As mentioned above we recommend leaving the local dimming setting on for enhanced contrast and black levels. Performance here was very good as this can be such a detractor with LED backlighting. This category of performance often changes over time but at the time we tested the M-series, we noted a bit more light coming from the center of the screen which makes sense since it has full array LED backlighting rather than edge lit.
Features Rating: 85/100
Internet Features, Wireless and Vizio Internet Apps Plus
802.11ac dual-band MIMO wireless is built right into the TV for the fastest connection available.We had 5 bars of full connectivity and 16 Mb/s connection and despite this we could not get the Amazon nor Netflix Apps to play the first day. We kept getting a “No Signal” response even though we were connected and other Apps worked. Some combination of these Apps with the wireless software must have caused the problem, because both Amazon and Netflix were working on another TV. The next day they both mysteriously connected without a problem. See above for our comments on picture and sound quality from streaming. The Vizio M series pushes the updated Smart TV platform, Vizio Internets Apps Plus.
One of the best upgrades is the processing power behind it all. The V6 processor provides a quad-core GPU and a dual-core CPU. This combination indeed did a fine job of handling all the video and computing that you'll need on a smart TV. The picture quality is definitely softer when streaming movies even HD streaming.
The Menu settings are discrete for Internet connections and comes preset to Calibrated Mode. Dont forget to adjust the picture settings again and turn off the Reduce Judder setting. Picture quality from reality shows like Survivor look incredibly defined and colorful from the Amazon App. Sound quality is much more pinched and muffled than with cable, BluRay or other sources.
Unfortunately, Vizio is sticking with Yahoo! To provide the Internet Apps Plus programming. The Apps for Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, YouTube work well and are probably what you will actually use.
Excellent picture quality and streaming speed in the Netflix app
UltraFlix is a new App that provides Video clips of all 4K content but you must have an UltraFlix account before using it. There is also Pandora, Spitify, and iHeartRadio – an App with your favorite radio stations. Most of the Yahoo! Apps are of limited use. There is a lack of sports Apps, and the ones that are there arent worth much. The YouTube App is a highlight.
There is no Internet browser included with the Vizio Internet Apps Plus (Yahoo!) suite and no way to connect to the open Internet. Odd, but that's the case. Why have a QWERTY keyboard if there is nothing to use it with? You are confined to the Yahoo! Apps store with the M-C series Vizio.
The Netflix app works wonderfully on the Vizio Internet Apps Plus platform
4K streaming is possible with the HEVC H.265 codec and the latest HDMI standard for full resolution 60fps playback. HDCP 2.2 also allows for playback of copyright protected 4K content.
The buttons on the standard remote are too small in many cases and operation is not smooth. There are dedicated Smart TV buttons for Netflix, Amazon, and iHeart Radio allowing quick access to those Apps. The front side is not backlit, but QWERTY keyboard remote on the back is. The QWERTY side of the remote really helps entering Login information, but there is no browser, thus no real reason to even have a QWERTY keyboard. You will likely never even use it except mayb initial password setup, and the YouTube App. The QWERTY side is backlit when pressing the keys which is nice, but I found the shift/numbers to not work at all, forcing me to turn the remote over and use the 5-way controller when typing in numbers.
5 HDMI Ports
It's always nice to have more HDMI ports. 4 of these are normal 1080p, 4K (30Hz) ports, while the 5th is 2.0 for 4K (60Hz) or a PC at 1080p(60hz).
Appearance and Design – Not too Flashy
Stand Design - The sturdy metal stand feet are a nice brushed dark silver, but they sit wide on the TV. For example on the M50-C1 they sit 3 feet apart. Whichever size version you get, take into account the width of the stand feet if you plan to set it on a table. The stand feet are located approximately 3.5” from the outer edges of the TV, so make sure your table is wide enough to accommodate.
TV Design - The M-C series has a very nice looking design with rounded edges and a quarter inch black bezel frame. The very outer edge and sides, top, bottom are encased in a brushed dark silver. Very nice and refined looking. The side profile of half an inch is designed to look slimmer than the 2.5” depth of TV.
I was impressed by the balance and quality of the speakers on the M-series. Volume from the 2 X 10W speakers was very loud even at only 40% volume level. When viewing the BluRay remake of Return of the Jedi the TV did a very acceptable job with voice clarity and quality. There is plenty of volume even for a very large room. The Surround Sound feature is set to On which is my preference with fuller sound. Sound quality was more pinched without it. This is one of the best speaker/audio sets in the market.
Value Rating: 94/100
At $799 the M50-C1 is set up to be a winner. There are certainly small weaknesses, but they are overwhelmed by lots of positives – primarily the upscaling, sound, Internet Apps processing engine, aesthetic package, 5 HDMI inputs, and color rendition. It's difficult to beat this combination for value.
Overall Rating: 90/100
- 49.5" Screen Diagonally Measured
- 3840x2160 Resolution
- 32 Active Dimming Zones
- V6 Six-core processor: Quad-core GPU + Dual-core CPU
- Spatial Scaling Engine for Upscaling
- 10W x 2 Speakers
- With Stand Dimensions: 44.18”W x 27.75”H x 10.04”D
- With Stand Weight: 33.07 lbs.
- Without Stand Dimensions: 44.18”W x 25.40”H x 2.44”D
- Without Stand Weight: 32.19 lbs.
- Inputs: 5 HDMI, 1 USB, 1 Component/Composite Combination
|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|