Vizio P-Series Quantum X review: For when an OLED TV costs too much


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If you want superior picture quality, you should save up for an OLED TV like the LG B9. They outperform even the very best LCD-based TV you can buy, including the Vizio P-Series Quantum X reviewed here. But OLED TVs cost a lot more than this PX, especially if you want something larger than 65 inches. So maybe saving up that much just isn’t worth it to you.

Like

  • The Vizio P-Series Quantum X’s has the best overall picture of any TV at or below its price.
  • Powerful brightness works well in bright rooms and with HDR sources.
  • Significantly cheaper than OLED TVs, particularly in the 75-inch size.

Don’t Like

  • Some banding artifacts in HDR, lighter black levels in some scenes.
  • Lackluster remote and smart TV.

Meanwhile, less expensive models like the TCL 6-Series and Vizio’s own M-Series have image quality that’s excellent too, but not as good as this Vizio. in my side-by-side comparisons, the PX’s tremendous light output and excellent contrast took it a step beyond. I also compared Vizio’s best TV against the TCL 8-Series and Samsung Q80R, both of which cost more than the PX, and it split the difference. The TCL (full review coming soon) was better but still not in the same league as LG’s B9 OLED, and while the Samsung was plenty bright, its contrast and black levels fell short.

Bottom line? The Vizio P-Series Quantum X is a better value than OLED, especially the 75-inch version, and its PQ is so good you might not even miss that “O.”

Design and features: Not Vizio’s strongest suits

The PX TV itself isn’t ugly by any means. It looks a lot like other TVs on the market: swaths of glossy black and a minimalist frame around the picture, although Vizio uses flashy chrome legs and side accents to establish its higher-end chops. Sure, high-end models from Samsung, LG and even TCL have more distinctive looks, but there’s only so much any big, black-ish rectangle can do to distinguish itself. 

It’s in other aspects of design where the PX fails. Vizio’s remote has been unchanged for years and remains my least favorite. It gets the job done, but compared to the simplicity of Roku and Samsung remotes, or the evolved wands of LG and Sony, it’s an also-ran.

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The same goes for Vizio’s “Smartcast” smart TV system. It’s worse than on any other current TV, with onscreen menus filled with a random selection of TV shows and movies I didn’t care about and a sparse selection of apps (Disney Plus is still MIA, for example). To watch any of the hundreds of apps not part of Vizio’s onscreen system, including Disney Plus, you’ll use the cast function on your phone to connect to the TV. The Vizio’s Chromecast built-in feature is neat for phone-centric users, but less convenient for people used to onscreen apps.

In Vizio’s favor the latest version, 3.5, is much faster than before. In my tests comparing the PX to a TCL 6-Series with Roku, the home page came up quickly and apps, including Netflix, YouTube and YouTube TV, relaunched in a snap (once they loaded initially) — YouTube in particular was faster on Vizio than on the TCL. Initial load times varied between the two and scrolling within apps was also similar. 

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The ability to use your iPhone or iPad with Apple AirPlay on Vizio TVs is a welcome perk, and in my testing it worked well. Roku TVs lack AirPlay and Google Cast, but they do get Apple’s TV app (which is also coming “in the future” to Vizio TVs). Unlike Roku, Samsung and LG, Vizio doesn’t have any voice capability built into its remote, but the TV will work with Amazon Alexa and Google Home speakers.

Key TV features

Display technology LED LCD
LED backlight Full array with local dimming
Resolution 4K
HDR compatible HDR10 and Dolby Vision
Smart TV Smartcast 3.5
Remote Standard

The biggest image quality extra is more zones of full-array local dimming, my favorite augmentation to LCD picture quality because it improves all-important contrast. The number of dimmable zones is an important specification because it controls how precise the dimming can be. More zones doesn’t necessarily mean better picture quality, but it usually helps. The PX has 384 zones in the 65-inch and 480 in the 75-inch, more than any TV aside from the TCL 8-Series that divulges this number. (Samsung and Sony don’t reveal their FALD zone numbers, but they’re potentially higher on their best TVs, like the Q90R and 8K models.) 

Quantum dots, meanwhile, allow the PX-Series to achieve better HDR color. The TV delivered a comparable color gamut to other high-end models in my measurements.

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The PX-Series has a true 120Hz refresh rate panel, just like the best TVs from Sony, Samsung and TCL, and they’re better than the 60Hz panels found on cheaper sets. Although you should ignore Vizio’s “240Hz effective” and “Clear Action 960” claims, Vizio’s 120Hz panel does improve video processing and also allows the option to engage MEMC (motion estimation, motion compensation) — also known as the soap opera effect. You can also elect to engage black frame insertion

Vizio supports both major types of HDR, HDR10 and Dolby Vision, in the PX-Series. So does every other major TV maker except Samsung, which lacks Dolby Vision support.

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  • Four HDMI inputs (version 2.0, with HDCP 2.2)
  • One HDMI input (version 1.4, 1080p/120Hz input capable)
  • One component-composite video input
  • One USB port
  • RF antenna tuner input
  • Ethernet port
  • Optical digital audio output
  • Stereo analog audio output

Vizio is the only major TV maker with five HDMI ins. Four can accept all major 4K and HDR sources. A fifth HDMI input can accept neither HDR nor 4K sources. Instead, Input 5 can handle 1080p at 120Hz input, ideal for so-equipped gaming PCs (we didn’t test this function). Gamers will also appreciate that Input 5 has lower input lag than the others.

Unlike most other 2019 TV makers Vizio isn’t supporting any HDMI 2.1 features like auto game mode and variable refresh rate, but most buyers won’t miss them. 

Picture quality comparisons

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Click the image above for picture settings.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The PX scored a “9” in overall image quality, higher than any LCD-based TV I’ve reviewed this year but short of the “10” I’ve given to OLED TVs. Its biggest strength is contrast, anchored by exceptional light output and very good local dimming performance for an impactful image with HDR images and in bright rooms — both of which outperformed TVs that earned an “8” in this category, such as the TCL 6-Series and Vizio M-Series. Video processing was also superior to those models.

The PX’s contrast with dark scenes in SDR wasn’t as good as those other TVs, however, and screen uniformity was also a bit worse.

Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV’s picture controls worked during calibration.

Dim lighting: With non-HDR material in a dark room, its black levels were surprisingly a step behind any of the others in my comparison, resulting in a slightly more washed-out image. In the opening sequence of Shazam, for example, the letterbox bars, the dark interior of the car and the darkened seats looked a bit too bright in comparison, robbing the image of some contrast. In the more mixed scenes a bit later, for example as the kid explores the cave and speaks to the wizard, the differences evened out a bit but the PX still lagged slightly behind in my side-by-side comparisons, even against the less-expensive Vizio PG and TCL 6-Series.

It seemed as if Vizio’s local dimming was erring too much toward exposing shadow detail (which was excellent) at the expense of contrast — it was incapable of going as low in black areas as the other FALD TVs. The Samsung Q80R was just the opposite, crushing shadows to get darker black levels and letterbox bars. The TCL 8-Series struck a balance that looked best to my eye among the LCDs, with deep black levels and solid shadow detail that came closest — albeit wasn’t quite as good as — the B9 OLED.

Bright lighting: The PX is Xtremely bright: the brightest TV I measured this year and the second-brightest ever, after the 2018 Samsung Q9. As you can see from the table below, it belted out more light than the three more-expensive TVs in my comparison.

Light output in nits

TV Brightest (SDR) Accurate color (SDR) Brightest (HDR) Accurate color (HDR)
Vizio PX65-G1 1,990 1,120 2,908 2,106
TCL 65Q825 1,653 904 1,758 937
Samsung QN65Q80R 1,443 832 1,494 1,143
Sony XBR-65X950G 1,050 427 1,264 1,035
Vizio P659-G1 792 561 822 602
TCL 65R625 653 578 881 813
LG OLED65B9 374 283 628 558

As usual the Vivid mode was the brightest but horribly inaccurate. I prize the “Accurate” settings most, and Vizio’s is the easiest to implement: just select the Calibrated mode. 

Despite its jaw-dropping measurements with test patterns, with real HDR material the PX actually looked (and measured) dimmer than both the Samsung Q80R and the TCL 8-Series. See below for details, but it once again proves that test pattern measurements (and specs claims) aren’t the end-all, be-all.

Under bright lighting in broad daylight the PX’s screen was very good: a bit more-effective at mitigating reflections than the TCL 8-Series and the LG B9 and a bit worse than either one at preserving black levels and contrast — effects that tended to cancel each other out. None of the other TVs in my lineup could hold a candle to the superb Samsung, which has the most effective antireflective screen I’ve ever seen and was the best bright-room TV in my lineup.

Color accuracy: The Vizio’s color measured quite well although compared to the other review samples I received, it was somewhat blue before calibration. After calibration it was nearly perfect, as were the others, and comparing colorful scenes from Shazam, like the Philadelphia cityscape, the red of the subway seats and young Shazam’s skin tones, differences were negligible.

Video processing: The PX tested very well in this category. It achieved the maximum 1,200 lines of motion resolution in my test, and was able to do so while maintaining correct 1080p/24 film cadence. To get that result I set Reduce Judder to zero and Reduce Motion Blur to 10 while engaging Clear Action black frame insertion. The latter setting cuts light output significantly, as usual, but unlike on some TVs it doesn’t cause massive flicker (as long as Reduce Motion Blur is higher than zero). I still noticed some flicker in the brightest images, however, so I kept it turned off for my tests. With Clear Action disabled, the PQ still managed an acceptable 600 lines of motion resolution as long as Reduce Motion Blur was engaged.

I’m no fan of the soap opera effect, but people who want a little smoothing might appreciate that the PQ’s Reduce Judder slider is pleasantly gradual, with barely any smoothing at the 1 setting and slightly more at 2 and 3, before getting into buttery territory at 4 and above.

Unlike most TVs that have a single Game mode to reduce input lag for gaming, the Vizio has a Game Low Latency (GLL) setting that can be applied to any picture mode — including Game. The PX’s lag was very good, if not quite as good as the best TVs, at about 26ms in Calibrated mode with GLL engaged for both 4K HDR and 1080p sources. 

Those numbers were measured on Input 1, but the Input 5 was even better, topping out at a very impressive 14.83 ms (Calibrated, GLL on). As I mentioned above, however, that input is only for 1080p sources, but if you’re a twitch gamer going 1080p, Input 5 on the PX series among the lowest input lags available.

Uniformity: With test patterns the PX was solid without too much brightness variation across the screen, although it wasn’t as uniform as the other sets. With a midbright pattern I saw faint vertical bars that got more noticeable in dark gray areas. From off-angle the PX was worse than the TCL 8-Series and Samsung Q80, losing contrast and color fidelity faster than both as I moved further from the sweet spot in front of the screen, while of course the LG B9 OLED was basically perfect.

HDR and 4K video: With the best-quality video the Vizio came into its own, delivering a superb picture overall. I compared it extensively to the TCL 8-Series, the LG B9 OLED and the Samsung Q80R — all of which cost substantially more than the Vizio PX — using the excellent video montage from the Spears and Munsil 4K HDR benchmark disc. Between the four the Vizio came in third-place overall, better than the Samsung but not as good as the TCL or LG, but visibly superior, thanks to brightness and punch, than the TCL 6-Series and Vizio P659-G1.

I started with the 1,000 nits sequence because it best represents the majority of HDR content out there. In the most difficult bright-on-dark scenes, for example the honey dripper against the black background (2:47) and the Ferris wheel at night (4:50), the LG B9 was the best of the four, thanks to its perfect blacks and complete lack of blooming and stray illumination. The TCL was second-best, with a very slightly lighter black and very little blooming. The Vizio got almost as bright as the TCL in this scene but had the worst blooming of the four and its highlights looked somewhat unnatural, as if processing were bringing them up and enhancing detail too much. Meanwhile the Samsung was the worst, with a more washed-out black than any of the others (including the cheaper Vizio P-Series and TCL 6 series) and quite a bit of blooming.

The same scenes at 4,000 nits, HDR content available on some fewer TV shows and movies, was largely similar in those scenes aside from light output in highlights (see the table below).

Selected HDR highlights in nits

Spears & Munsil scene element (timestamp) Sequence (nits) LG B9 Samsung Q80R TCL 8-Series Vizio PX
Sky above peaks (0:10) 1,000 200 370 345 208
Sky above peaks (0:10) 4,000 260 453 636 388
Between horse’s neck, forelock (0:37) 1,000 203 512 464 226
Between horse’s neck, forelock (0:37) 4,000 191 487 555 440
Reflection in honey dripper (2:47) 1000 384 506 438 360
Reflection in honey dripper (2:47) 4,000 386 604 735 704
Middle of Ferris wheel (4:50) 1,000 150 234 208 167
Middle of Ferris wheel (4:50) 4,000 233 207 190 232

In brighter scenes the light output advantage of the LCDs over the OLEDs became more noticeable, although the Samsung and TCL both looked (and measured) brighter than the Vizio. Watching some grazing horses in a snowfield (0:37), the TCL looked the best, with superb detail and definition and superior brightness. The Vizio and B9 also looked well-detailed but dimmer, while the Samsung was quite bright but obscured details the most.

In the same scene at 4,000 nits the TCL and Vizio were the only ones to preserve all of the detail in the grass; the LG and Samsung both showed less definition, and the LG was markedly dimmer than any of the others.

The Vizio’s biggest issue with HDR was color banding and visible gradation in some scenes, for example the sky during a sunset (2:03), above a cityscape (4:39) and a satellite dish (5:28). On one hand it wasn’t super-noticeable — better than the P-Series Quantum last year, for example — but on the other it looked worse on the Vizio PX (and the Vizio PG) than on the others. The TCL 8-Series also showed traces in the first two scenes albeit nearly not as much as the PX, while the Samsung, LG and 6-Series were essentially perfectly smooth in comparison.

Geek Box

Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.003 Good
Peak white luminance (SDR) 1,990 Good
Avg. gamma (10-100%) 2.18 Good
Avg. grayscale error (10-100%) 0.60 Good
Dark gray error (30%) 0.48 Good
Bright gray error (80%) 0.90 Good
Avg. color checker error 1.00 Good
Avg. saturation sweeps error 0.91 Good
Avg. color error 1.34 Good
Red error 1.30 Good
Green error 0.78 Good
Blue error 3.09 Average
Cyan error 0.92 Good
Magenta error 1.31 Good
Yellow error 0.64 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 1,200 Good
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 600 Average
Input lag (Game mode, Input 5) 14.83 Good
Input lag (Game mode, Input 1) 25.90 Good
HDR10
Black luminance (0%) 0.003 Good
Peak white luminance (10% win) 2,908 Good
Gamut % UHDA/P3 (CIE 1976) 97.74 Good
ColorMatch HDR error 1.80 Good
Avg. color checker error 4.64 Average
Input lag (Game mode, 4K HDR) 26.17 Good

Vizio PX65-G1 CNET review calibration results by David Katzmaier on Scribd



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