underscored vizio tv lead
CNN  — 

Vizio’s V-Series isn’t the flashiest TV on the market, but it’s an entry-level 4K UHD that focuses on value. In fact, we called it the best budget model out of all the TVs we tested for 2020.

The 55-inch model, specifically the V555, we’ve been testing doesn’t have the sharpest picture in the world with the most vibrant colors or the deepest blacks, but it presents content at a full 4K quality.

It’s the 2019 model and will eventually be off the market, but for now, we think it delivers a high amount of value while not sacrificing an enjoyable TV watching experience.

Let’s dive into what makes the V-Series so attractive.

4K with standards onboard

Vizio TV Dim

The V-Series uses an LCD panel, but not all models feature local dimming.

On the V Series, though, not all models will feature local dimming zones,though all of them receive the LCD IPS panel.

It’s not the end of the world, but ultimately models with the local dimming deliver deeper blacks and a sharper picture. Our V555 model had the advantage of built-in local dimming zones.

“Captain Marvel” streamed in 4K from Disney+ immerses you in the colors bursting around her as she flies through space. The bright burst of energy is contrasted with the darkness of space. It’s a good test for any TV, and while the V-Series falls behind OLEDs, it’s better than Fire TV Editions and lower end TCL models.

Via the LCD panel, we noticed that it doesn’t get super bright, but with full-array dimming zones on board, it delivers a sharp picture. It also doesn’t weigh down the model with it’s relatively low brightness. It’s an average picture that delivers good value.

That value grows even larger with the number of standards that the V-Series supports. HDR will increase contrast and vibrancy to deliver a more enjoyable picture for content that supports it. Essentially, this standard looks into the metadata of your viewing and calibrates the TV for the best picture. Similarly, the V-Series supports Dolby Vision, which is Dolby’s custom tuning and calibration (along with optimization) for specific content. It doesn’t deliver the massive increase in immersion like we saw on other models, but it improves vibrancy and clarity throughout.

Additionally, the V-Series sports a 60Hz refresh rate that notably doesn’t have much lag. The refresh rate is essentially how many times in a second the TV can refresh itself. We also found that with gaming, there wasn’t much, if any, input lag from a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One with titles like Watch Dogs 2, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Grand Theft Auto V.

All of this technology is packed into a classic flat-panel TV design. For a lower-end TV model, you’d expect a mostly plastic build, which is what you get on the V-Series. There’s also decently thickened bezels around the TV, but it doesn’t distract too much. There are ample ports as well: three HDMI ports, an optical jack for audio and a USB-A port.

SmartCast offers ample content and supports core smart systems

Vizio TV Streaming

Vizio casts a wide net with SmartCast, a proprietary smart interface that’s found on all Vizio models. It’s not super sleek, like LG’s webOS or Samsung’s Tizen, but it is easy to navigate. It’s a grid format with rows that try to look sleeker than Roku’s TV interface.

Native on SmartCast, you’ll find support for core streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Peacock, Apple TV+, Hulu, YouTube and many others on an expanding list. Additionally, you can save favorites to a section of the interface for easy access.

Vizio TV remote

The V-Series remote features dedicated buttons for a few services and features an easy four arrow button setup for navigating the interface.

You can also integrate Vizio SmartCast with three big smart ecosystems: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s AirPlay 2. With the first two you can control aspects of the V-Series via a Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa enabled speaker. You can ask either service to turn the TV on, switch services and adjust the volume. This TV also supports the Google Cast and Apple AirPlay standard — both of which will let you stream content from a device on the same Wi-Fi right to the big screen.

Bottom Line

Vizio TV Black

At $379.99 for a 55-inch TV, you’re getting a ton of value with Vizio’s 2019 V-Series. It’s a display that packs details in, effortlessly upscales content to 4K and offers strong black levels for an entry-level TV. SmartCast is mostly a middle of the road interface, but offers core services and supports the big three platforms.

Better yet, if you can score the 2019 model on sale, you can get it for even more of a bargain. It’s on sale for $339.99 from Target right now.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.