VIZIO displays are known for their value as well as performance, and their latest SmartCast M-Series (2017) is definitely no slouch, touted as the ‘most colorful M-Series ever’. We recently got the chance to review the M50-E1, a 50″ panel that can not only display HDR (High Dynamic Range) content, but has Google Chromecast built-in, along with Google Home compatibility. For example, you’ll be able to send Netflix content directly from your phone using this feature, while an onscreen menu, called Smartcast TV, enables users to launch apps using the standard on-screen approach. Best of all, you can pick one up for $499 for Black Friday here now. Continue reading for our full review of the display, which was generously provided to us for free by VIZIO.
Sleek and stylish, the M50 features a matte black bezel frame that measures in at 0.6″ on the top / sides as well as 0.8″ at the bottom, and silver metal line the sides of the bezel, with V-shaped metal feet keeping everything stable when upright. You’ll find a total of four HDMI ports, two USB ports, a composite video input, an Ethernet port, along with optical / stereo RCA audio outputs on the left side, right next to a row of power, input, and volume buttons that will definitely come in handy if you can’t locate the remote. Best of all, once you plug the display in, setup is complete in just minutes using the remote or VIZIO’s SmartCast Mobile app.
A minimalist design approach was used for the remote, and it most certainly shows, starting with its slim design. This full-featured wand boasts all the controls you need to navigate the M50’s menus, and also quick access buttons, which are located above the navigation pad, to popular apps (Netflix, Crackle, Vudu, Amazon Video, iHeartRadio, and Xumo.).
VIZIO’s very own SmartCast platform was designed to be a complete connected TV interface that can be activated at the push of a button. Users are greeted with suggested content and additional icons for specific apps and services. The M50’s predecessor used an included tablet to cast content on the screen, but this model uses a traditional remote and built-in apps. You’ll be able to access Amazon, Crackle, FandangoNOW, Hulu, Netflix, PlutoTV, iHeartRadio, Xumo, Vudu, and the ability to play media directly off a USB drive. Plus, you won’t need to use your mobile device to change TV settings, as the SmartCast interface offers them directly on-screen.
Want YouTube? Just use a compatible mobile device, Chrome tabs from a PC / Mac, or screen-mirror any recent Android device, to directly stream any Google Cast-compatible content to the display. Best of all, the apps all use direct HTML5 links to the cloud, so the apps are always up to date, and the “Discover” section makes it easy for you to discover new offerings across the multiple apps, all in one place.
XHDR Plus and Xtreme Black Engine Plus
For a truly eye-popping experience with the M50, you’ll need to experience VIZIO’s XHDR Plus with Dolby Vision. Whether if you’re watching Stranger Things, The Avengers, or Assassins Creed Origins, you’ll notice that the colors are more bright and vibrant, but not oversaturated, thanks to 32 LED zones of full-array local dimming. Since HDR viewing increases contrast, VIZIO’s Xtreme Black Engine Plus technology uses the 32 local dimming zones to deliver peak brightness and deep black levels to highlight shadow details, while enabling a wider range of luminance.
We noticed that movies and TV shows were far more crisp, or at least when compared to a standard 4K display, while colors were more rich, without being overbearing. The idea behind HDR is to get the highlights really bright, while still providing deep blacks so objects in the shadows still stand out. What really stood out was VIZIO’s Ultra Color Gamut, one very important aspect of High Dynamic Range content. This technology basically captures more saturated reds, greens, blues, and pretty much every other color available in HDR content, to provide a more vivid and lifelike, but still natural, look. Its predecessor only included an HD color gamut, which offers an improvement in an HDR signal, but not as much as with Ultra Color Gamut.
For a 50″ Ultra HD HDR XLED Plus display, the VIZIO M50-E1 can’t be beat. Offering connected features and performance in one sleek package. The M-Series lineup is best for anyone seeking a display with an intuitive smart experience and easy to learn interface, without the high price tag. More information.