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Vizio M801i Review

80 inch 1080p Smart LED TV

by , Senior Editor

This 80-inch monster of an LED TV is the largest screen in the updated M series for 2014. The M801i-A3 is basically the same TV that we saw last year, but without any sort of 3D playback. Vizio opted out of 3D playback on their 2014 models to focus on picture quality and make the value even stronger. Smaller TVs in the M series this year have full array LED backlighting. It's a bit disappointing to return to the Razor LED from last year that doesn't perform as well when it comes to screen uniformity. The retail price for the M801i is $3,299.99.

Picture Quality Rating: 82/100

The overall 2D 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. Image edges are not as crisp as some of the better Sony TVs on the market (denoting strong video engine processing) but they were far from bad. From a calibrated picture setting, we felt the TV exhibited some 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.

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.

Smooth Motion Effect Setting

The effective 240Hz panel speed did a pretty good job eliminating judder and motion lag when combined with the Smooth Motion Effect setting. When viewing anything but live sports, you will likely want to turn the Smooth Motion Effect setting off as it adds the unwelcome cardboard cuttout fake effect by eliminating too much background blur. The effect is more subtle on the Vizio M801d than on many LED TVs we've reviewed. It doesnt overcompensate as much. We noted just a slight amount of lag in fast motion material.

Effective 240Hz Processing

The M801i features a panel with a 240Hz effective refresh rate from what is likely a 120Hz panel. We think this is a great addition to the overall picture quality on this LED TV. It works pretty well to smooth out fast motion and take take of motion blur. This really expands the functionality of the TV to make it useful for all kinds of sports programming and video games. There are many situations where this extra push in image processing won't be needed, luckily it can be disabled. This way unwanted side effects in programming that doesn't include a lot of fast action won't be an issue.

OPC Control Setting

The OPC (Optimum Power Control) control is very hidden in the menu of the M-series Vizio TV, but it can and should be turned off due to the distracting influx and outflow of light/brightness produced by the backlight. Out of the box, it will be set to On position for any of the preset picture settings. When I recently retested the M-series from Vizio I found it added unnecessary picture noise when light flow moved up or down lagging the picture image. The OPC's purpose is to save energy by manipulating the backlight through the M-series 36 backlight zones, or probably more accurately to lower the Energy rating for Vizio's TVs. But at less than $1 a month total, and just a few cents per month for the OPC feature, you probably prefer a better picture. To turn it off: Go to Picture Settings, scroll down to More, Scroll down and click Advanced Picture at he bottom of the menu, Click on Backlight Control and turn Off.

Local Dimming

Local dimming (Smart Dimming feature) on the M801d 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: 83/100

Vizio Internet Apps Plus

Vizio has added a Plus to the name of their smart TV features this year. 802.11n Wifi is built right into the TV for an excellent connection that will handle HD streaming without a problem. Some of the major streaming apps include Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Vudu, Pandora, and all the social media you need. The new backlit remote even has dedicated buttons for Netflix, Amazon, and M Go. The whole platform has recieved a redesign in order to achieve an inuitive user interface. We think it is an improvement upon previous iterations. Second Screen interactivity is also a feature for iOS and Android devices.

Vizio M322i-B1 Streaming Netflix
The Netflix app works wonderfully on the Vizio Internet Apps Plus platform

The Apps options choices are very complete except for Skype.

Appearance and Design – Uninspired but not Tired

The M801i has an ultra slim quarter inch black gloss bezel that surrounds the edge to edge glass of the screen. The base and neck are made out of metal to give it a solid construction and feel. The profile is razor thin and competes with the best 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.

Value Bang for the Buck Rating: 90/100

There is especially little competition in the 80 inch size televisions, but there are beginning to be more coming into the market. While many large format TVs from Samsung and Sony are of the top tier variety, the Vizio M801i is aimed at value shoppers. Competition is from the Sharp LC-80LE650U that sells for a few hundred less with comparible picture quality and Smart TV features.

Overall Rating: 85/100

Quick Specs

  • Diagonal Measurement: 80.01"
  • (2) 10 Watt Speakers
  • Dimensions With Stand: 71.21”W x 43.43”H x 12.80”D
  • Dimensions Without Stand: 71.21”W x 41.10”H x 2.62”D
  • Weight With Stand: 134.48 lbs
  • Weight Without Stand: 113.98 lbs
  • 1920 X 1080 Full HD Resolution
  • 4 HDMI and 2 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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