These days, you can get a beautiful, massive display that would have driven even the most dedicated early adopter to tears a decade ago for less than $1,000.
That’s not the only way TVs have changed. It’s no longer safe to assume the average customer has a cable or satellite subscription. If they don’t, how do they watch TV shows and movies? Do they use a set-top box, a streaming sick, or a video game console?
How about none of the above?
Vizio’s newest line of TVs theoretically caters to people who have little more than an internet connection and a collection of streaming passwords at the ready. We tested out Vizio’s latest M-Series Quantum 65-inch display and it certainly packs a punch, especially if you don’t plug a single device into it.
Everything is here, all in one place
Vizio’s newest TVs all come with SmartCast, a sort of catch-all term for the central menu interface you come across when you boot up the TV. At first glance, the home screen is busy as can be; movies and shows are displayed in a horizontal row up top, while every single streaming app you can access is similarly shown along the bottom.
Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and pretty much all the rest of the mainstream apps you could ever want to use are present and accounted for. It also has support for music streaming via iHeartRadio and Pandora, in case you want to do that on your TV. Vizio has a handy chart of supported apps on its website.
The content in the top row will automatically update with different shows and movies to watch over time. Some of them are free and labeled as such, which plays into Vizio’s excellent search function. More on that later.
Vizio’s WatchFree service, situated in a separate tab on the top of the home menu, is also a novel feature. It’s basically internet-powered broadcast TV that you don’t need to pay for or even log into to use. Once your TV is connected to the internet, you can peruse a channel guide and watch news, sports, and other kinds of programming provided through Vizio’s partners.
To its credit, WatchFree has just about something from every genre of TV. Broadcast partners include Comedy Central, CNN, MTV, Fox Sports, and more. The streaming quality on office WiFi was fine, but it’s definitely not the same as watching cable TV.
Frankly, I don’t know how useful this will be to most customers, assuming they’ve got access to a variety of streaming service. But if you don’t have cable anymore, it’s kind of fun to indulge in idle channel surfing.
Excellent search function
Along the very top of the screen, you can navigate away from the home screen to more dedicated pages for movies and shows. Aside from those, there’s an excellent search feature that other smart TV interfaces need to emulate.
It’s pretty simple: Search for a movie or show you want to watch, and Vizio will show you every app it’s available on in an easily digestible interface. It’ll even tell you where it’s free and where it’ll cost you money to rent or buy it.
There isn’t much more to say about it. It’s elegant and useful in all the ways it should be.
Finally, you can talk to your TV
If you’re into it, Vizio’s newest TVs also play nice with the three major virtual assistants and their respective smart devices. Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant can all be synced up to the TV, giving you voice control over a decent number of functions.
I tested it out with Google Assistant through my phone and found it pretty easy to turn the TV on and off, control volume, and launch apps with my voice. You can also fast-forward or rewind whatever you’re watching with your voice.
It’s worth noting that none of this was done through the TV or remote themselves. As far as I can tell, you’ll need a compatible smart device to use this feature. Since you probably have a smart phone, that shouldn’t be a problem.
This isn’t a major selling point for me. Personally, as I’m a grouchy old man who doesn’t like talking to technology. But for the modern consumer who has an Amazon Echo or something similar in their home, this is genuinely useful and a nice addition.
As a minor aside, the remote that comes with the M-Series Quantum is totally fine. It has dedicated buttons to launch several different prominent streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu, but there’s nothing remarkable about it otherwise. I can’t say I ran into too many problems using it, but it’s fairly barebones.
If only it were faster
In my time with the M-Series Quantum TV, I liked pretty much everything about the experience save for one very significant detail. The interface I’ve commended up to this point is extremely slow to navigate.
It’s barely able to keep up with button commands, some thing that was noticeable right from the jump. Once I was done with the TV’s minimal setup process, working my way through the basic menus felt like a chore.
This isn’t a new problem for smart TVs, necessarily, but it’s noticeable enough that I’d probably still be inclined to just stream from a game console or set-top box instead.
No devices, no problem
If you can get past how sluggish the interface can be, there’s a lot to like about the M-Series Quantum. Pretty much every streaming app you could want (minus HBO Go and Now, it seems) is available, and there are tons of streaming apps you’ve probably never heard of.
Between that and the WatchFree function, it’s easy to get everything you need out of this TV without owning any streaming devices or a cable subscription. It also supports casting from other devices, if that’s your thing.
The 65-inch 4K HDR display is also gorgeous, as you might expect. The 3840 x 2160 ultra HD resolution is crisp and HDR is a game-changer once you actually get to experience it. Since you’re spending nearly $1,000 to get this TV, you can rest assured that the picture matches the price tag.
All in all, it’s hard to dislike Vizio’s newest M-Series line, even if it’s not as buttery smooth as it could be.