Sitting near the top of Vizio’s budget lineup, the P-series is definitely the brand’s value proposition for premium performance. While Vizio does sell an individual showcase line above the P-Series that exceeds the $2,000 mark – formerly in its Reference series, and today in the quantum-dot loaded P-series Quantum – those seeking a big, beautiful screen on a budget will see the standard P-Series TVs are as effective as Vizio gets. And it didn’t take long to learn that Vizio’s new 65-inch P-Series, the P65-F1, is the better from the lineup yet.

Along with beautiful 4K UHD and HDR performance, the most recent P-Series offers a good assortment of features new and old, not least which may be the return of it tuner, which Vizio abandoned for just two years during within an odd state of HD-antenna denial. That’s right, folks, Vizio’s “displays” are TVs once more. And while all of those other LED TV world has been bettering right along with it, the 2018 P-Series TV makes a striking case as the affordable 4K HDR TV to get.

From the box
If you’ve never owned (or moved) a 65-inch TV, you could be surprised at only how gargantuan they are really – it’s simple to overlook until you bring one home. The box for the P65-F1 model we reviewed is somehow the largest we’ve ever wedged right into a compact SUV, and at 88 pounds boxed up, it’s no lightweight.

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That compatible just over 55 pounds for it itself, which is merely above average for an LED TV with full-array backlighting, a hallmark of Vizio’s lineup. As the P65-F1’s 2.7-inch depth is thicker than some premium LED TVs (or cheaper edge-lit models), it lines up with similar offerings from TCL and others. Fresh out from the wrapping, the P-Series’ new three-sided, bezel-less design feels more premium than last year’s model, as the thinner aluminum feet give a tad more elegance.

And a tuner, too
We’ve given Vizio a good amount of criticism for abandoning TV tuners, so it’s only fair to provide credit where credit arrives. Unlike Apple’s penchant for “courageously” gutting features rather than looking back, Vizio not merely realized a tuner was something viewers wanted, but had using the courage to implicitly say, “Sorry, we’ll correct it.” Cord cutters who count on antennas to obtain local channels will have more available HDMI ports and less reason to dodge Vizio.

Together with the TV tuner, Vizio offers a huge amount of methods to connect, including four HDR-capable HDMI 2.0a inputs and one HDMI 1.4 input (#5 5), a hybrid composite/component connection, a USB 3.0 port, both optical digital and analog music outputs, and an Ethernet port to go with Wi-Fi connection. Our only gripe here’s there are just two HDMI ports privately, forcing you to dig around in the undercarriage for the rest of the three.

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Too much to process
Inside, it is loaded with a few of Vizio’s best processing tech, including its Xtreme Black Engine Pro local dimming. Full-array backlighting permits more uniform lighting over the screen than edge-lit displays, and the P-Series’ multiple dimmable zones (100 for the 65-inch, and 120 for the 70-inch), permit the TV to employ said backlighting to create incredible contrast with reduced “haloing” around bright objects. Those 100 zones are actually less than the 2017 P-series we reviewed, yet contrast appears to have improved. We asked Vizio why and got this response: “Improvements to panel performance and the neighborhood dimming algorithm have allowed for a decrease in dimming zones.” Quite simply, better processing.

Right out of your gate, HDR content looks spectacular.

Like last year’s model, the brand new P-Series supports both HDR10 (the normal standard) and Dolby Vision, HDR’s more dynamic version that uses dynamic metadata to modify screen brightness instantly and also permits an increased color bit-depth. Vizio claims it offers up to at least one 1,000 nits of peak brightness, which may be the baseline set by the UHD alliance, and a good offset to the P-Series’ impressive local dimming. IT doesn’t get as blazingly bright as premium models from Samsung and Sony, nonetheless it can seriously stoke the flames beneath the right conditions.

The P65-F1 also supports HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) HDR, made to future proof it for HDR broadcasts, but doesn’t currently support HDR10+, which, like Dolby Vision, can be made to offer dynamic adjustment to the brightest occasions on screen. (Samsung’s pricier QLED TVs are the only TVs that support the nascent technology stateside.)

Wide Color Gamut (WCG), which Vizio calls Ultra Color Spectrum, may be the finishing touch, providing among the best color reproduction we’ve seen yet from Vizio. WCG is available with or without engaging the entire UHD Color option in the Input Settings, but if you need to show 4K HDR quite happy with higher frame rates (e.g. streaming and gaming content), you’ll want to activate it in the menu. Talking about gaming, the menu offers a fresh Game Low Latency option, letting you decrease lag while still choosing your desired picture setting.

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As we discussed in last year’s review, Vizio’s Calibrated and Calibrated Dark picture settings execute a good job of displaying an excellent picture right out of your box. Which to select will rely upon your most common room lighting. Since we watch a good amount of our TV in bright rooms, we opt for sort of hybrid between your two, backing down the backlight somewhat beneath the Calibrated setting, and making a few minor adjustments to Contrast, Brightness, and Tint. We did occasionally adapt the neighborhood dimming from Medium to Low aswell – the former offers a brighter image but tended to border on white clipping during sports content.

Smart(ish) cast
Vizio has made multiple tweaks to its Chromecast-based Smartcast TV interface through the years, including ditching the remote altogether for a tablet-based system in 2016, before regressing back to the hybrid system on the existing P-Series, which offers a good collection of onboard software and a completely loaded remote to go with Chromecast streaming from your own mobile device.

Smartcast has made some improvements this season, including more apps, basic voice control with an Alexa or Google Assistant device, a fresh WatchFree feature free of charge streaming TV (similar to Roku’s), and new iphone app functionality for features like text-based entry from your own phone. The latter wouldn’t work for all of us with some apps, including Amazon Prime Video, but that’s likely a concern on Amazon’s side. You may also save and name your own picture settings, though you’ll still need to select it for each and every source.

As the new features are appreciated, the interface was surprisingly sluggish inside our testing. Changing picture settings, for example, would sometimes freeze the screen, triggering us to scroll at night setting we were looking for. On the input side, the P65-F1 could read and name a few of our inputs (e.g., our Samsung Blu-ray player and Roku Ultra), but others, like our Oppo UDP-203 Blu-ray player didn’t arrive. The machine also doesn’t appear to learn when an input is hot or cold, forcing you to page through inputs that aren’t connected. That’s an attribute even our 2013 Samsung plasma mastered, so it’s notable a 2018 TV can’t match it.

While Smartcast gets there, we still choose the speedier interfaces you’ll get from Samsung and LG, and the dead-simple Roku interface on TCL’s best models. As such, you may want to put in a dedicated streamer just like the Roku Premiere+ or Fire TV Stick 4K. On the bright side, setup is a breeze, and it appears to provide more steady Chromecast streaming from Netflix, YouTube, and others than in previous years.

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Visual bliss
It’s simple to forgive some interface hiccups, however, as the P65-F1 supplies the most impressive picture performance we’ve seen from P-Series to date, edging out top budget options like TCL’s 6-series, and even holding its with pricier TVs like Sony’s X900F. When fed the proper content, this TV is stunning, delivering obsidian black levels, sparkling bright whites, and deep, realistic color shading.

When fed the proper content, this TV is merely stunning.

Right out of your gate, why don’t we assure you that HDR content – especially Dolby Vision fare – looks spectacular. Marco Polo offered multiple opportunities for it showing its mettle, from battle scenes amidst lush green hillsides and near-perfect skies, to shadowy meetings in tents around spitting flames. Another streaming treat utilizing Dolby Vision was Amazon’s Jack Ryan, that was displayed with crystalline clarity and impressive color shading in the slow moments, and cutting, white-hot explosions in the battle scenes.

While there are a good amount of key features to crow about, being among the most impressive may be the TV’s screen uniformity, which is one area where TCL’s respectable 6-Series (at least the main one we reviewed) couldn’t continue. Sports offer one of the better testing grounds for uniformity, and after a complete day of NFL RedZone’s miles of green turf, we didn’t notice and even think about the sort of dirty image spots and columns commonly connected with budget LED TVs. The main one exception is off-axis viewing which, needlessly to say within an LED TV, drains colors, worsens contrast, and easier reveals uniformity issues.

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The P65-F1 can be quite impressive in the shadow lands, digging up a good amount of detail at night, even in fully lit viewing environments. We did occasionally wish we’re able to fine tune somewhat more (particularly when adjusting the Contrast and Brightness) to keep carefully the inky blacks while limiting crushing, but in all honesty, there’s not much to complain about in terms of the picture. We were constantly impressed with just how much quality we were consistently getting your money can buy; from the golden shaded throne-room in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, to the pastel collage of Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok, to a complete Sunday of NFL Football, this TV delivers.