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Review: RIVA Turbo X

Earbuds add clarity and privacy to the listening experience of our modern mobile lifestyle. However, in a shared group setting, more substantial amplification is better appreciated by all. There are many good choices for a "take anywhere" battery-powered Bluetooth speaker, but few are capable of delivering an impressive listening experience without becoming ungainly or making significant compromises to battery life.

The RIVA Turbo X is a premium portable Bluetooth speaker that does everything well: superb audio reproduction, useful mobile features, and good battery life in a finely-crafted compact chassis.

Unboxing
The $350 Turbo X is at the high end of mobile speaker pricing, and its beautifully nested packaging was appropriate for a valuable audio product with each component isolated and protected. A clearly organized user guide printed on quality paper stock made it easy to learn about the X's features and use.

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Accessories in the box include analog adapters for connecting RCA or 3.5mm minijack stereo output to the X's 3.5mm auxiliary input as well as a 19V DC power adapter for recharging its built-in battery.

I'll also add the Turbo X's rubber "I/O Cover" to the list of included accessories. Acting as a third foot on the X's base when placed in its dedicated holder, this protective cover can help seal out dust and debris from the ports on the rear of the unit. However, the fit of the cover on the unit I received left a gap that never completely sealed the rear ports, and I was counting down the minutes until someone declared the cover missing in action.

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I also received the Turbo X's optional premium soft case that proved perfect for organizing accessories and keeping the unit wrapped in protective layer of padded microfiber when not in use. The case sells for $30 on the company's website, and I consider it a worthwhile investment for its usability and protection.

Design
The Riva Turbo X measures approximately 9.1-inches (W) by 3.5-inches (D) by 4.1-inches (H) and it weighs 3.2-pounds. The sides of the X are wrapped with a sturdy fine mesh metal grill with the top and bottom capped in gloss-finished plastic. Color options include black and white with silver mesh.

Generously sized capacitive touch sensing buttons on the top of the Turbo X are LED backlit for easy identification. A proximity sensing feature illuminates the buttons and provides power-on-wake functionality without requiring direct contact - helpful for minimizing fingerprints on the otherwise glossy top.

Connectivity
The X's rear-facing port panel is centered along its bottom edge and features a 3.5mm analog auxiliary input and a standard-A USB receptacle for charging mobile devices. Other ports include a micro-USB receptacle for firmware updates, a battery toggle switch, and an illuminated battery icon that provides state and charging information.

Integrated Bluetooth support enables the Turbo X to easily connect to most mobile devices. With its built-in microphone and noise/echo canceling technology, the X made for a very clear and capable speakerphone even with moderate amounts of background noise as was the case when I tested it in an outdoor patio area. The X's Bluetooth implementation also supports aptX audio streaming from compatible devices for improved bandwidth management that can approach the quality of CD audio with appropriate source material.

Specs and intial impressions
The Turbo X features three front-facing 60mm drivers with total amplification rated at 45W RMS. The X's four passive "dual piston bass radiators" seemed well-tuned to enhance its low end response with a performance I associated with a much larger speaker system. Placing the X in the corner of a room proved an ideal location that further enhanced its sound quality with added richness, but even tabletop placement in the middle of a relatively open space delivered a superior performance compared to the less costly options I pitted it against. RIVA Audio claims the Turbo X has a 300-degree sound field, and I found its audio reproduction remarkably consistent from the sides and front.

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App goodness
A companion app for iOS and Android users dubbed RIVA Ground Control replicates all of the Turbo X's controls in a handsome and easy to use interface. Using the Bluetooth link to the X, the app enabled me to adjust the Turbo X's audio settings and perform basic track navigation. The app also provides a color-coded battery level indicator as well as a power off button.

Listening
I keep a few gigabytes of CD audio on my Samsung Galaxy S6 phone in the form of FLAC-encoded audio files. Galaxy smartphones have supported aptX Bluetooth streaming since the S3, and the RIVA Turbo X delivered an ear-pleasing presentation with a wide variety of music genres over its wireless connection. Podcast and live streaming audio content over the aptX link also sounded clear and crisp without the tinny sound often associated with smaller speaker systems. Compared to an older but similarly capable JBL On Tour iBT portable speaker that lacks aptX, the Turbo X's triple drivers and quad radiators delivered increased warmth and better low-end reproduction.

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The Turbo X also features an audio mode dubbed Trillium Surround that enables a pseudo-surround sound effect that adds a bit of spaciousness to appropriate content like movies or video games. The effect was generally pleasing and not disruptive to the listening experience, but for most music and podcast playback, I left the feature disabled.

Go Turbo!
If you want a smile-inducing audio feature, look no further than the RIVA Turbo X's "Turbo" button. A tap of the T-button impressed everyone within earshot with a significant boost (about 9 dB) in volume without appreciable distortion. Naturally, use of the awe-inspiring Turbo mode reduces battery life, but the manufacturer's claim of more than 26 hours of playback at 75 dB sound levels seemed accurate during my time with the Turbo X.

A check of the frequency response of the Turbo X and the older JBL unit revealed the former having a superior low-end response that extended down to the 65-70Hz range before significant drop-off occurred. In the chart below, the orange and yellow graphs are of the Turbo X with and without its Turbo-mode enabled and the purple graph is of the JBL. The spec sheet for the On Tour iBT lists its frequency response at 100Hz to 20kHz and my measurements aligned nicely. With frequencies of 50Hz and lower, neither speaker is making much sound.

Subjectively, and perhaps unsurprisingly, switching to the Turbo X's wired connection further improved the quality of its output. Although Bluetooth audio streaming is convenient, I found myself preferring wired input with CD-quality (or better) audio material.

2015 Vizio M-Series 4K UHD TV Preview

Bottom line
Aside from my minor grumblings about its port dust cover, the RIVA Turbo X represents a best in class choice for a portable Bluetooth speaker with ample battery life and room-filling audio reproduction. The X's Turbo mode impressed the ears of everyone who gave it a listen, and I've not heard better sound from a less costly Bluetooth audio device. The Turbo X is equally useful as a desktop companion with its graceful speakerphone capabilities, and the only thing I wanted to change was to make its awesomely-practical yet optional travel case a part of the package.

Review: Samsung JS9500 SUHD TV

Update July 11, 2015: PlayStation Now availability; retest light output

The promise of 4K ultra high definition (UHD) video is about more than an increased number of video pixels. The UHD format also offers a color palette that extends far beyond the ubiquitous HD standard with richer, deeper hues - fully saturated reds being a particularly obvious color difference between the HD and UHD standards. UHD video can also deliver a greater range of luminance information that compatible TVs can use to render eye-catching high dynamic range (HDR) imagery.

The flagship Samsung JS9500 Series 4K SUHD TV beautifully presents today's best HD video sources and its forward looking technical features make it one of a handful of premium 2015 models that approaches the full potential of the 4K UHD format.

Design
The style and design of Samsung's most advanced TV for 2015 is imbued with well-engineered character. Walking around the TV, its chamfered brushed metal bezel adds a silvery thin bit of contrast to the inky dark curved screen surface. The brushed theme extends to the TV's curved plastic-clad backside and its Y-shaped metal base stand. I was less enamored with the moderate flexing of my 65-inch review unit when perched upon its stand, but parents are always advised to secure any large TV to prevent potential tip over. Included spacers allow for the use of standard wall mount hardware.

Display tech
The JS9500's UHD screen has 3840x2160 pixel resolution and is a 10-bit VA type panel that provides good black level performance with the trade off being a narrower viewing sweet spot compared to IPS panel technology with its brighter black levels and correspondingly reduced picture contrast. Compared to the other SUHD Series TVs (JS7000, JS8500, JS8600, JS9000, and JS9100), the JS9500 is the only one to feature a full array LED backlight with "many" zones of local dimming that enables inky dark black levels and superb brightness throughout the picture. The other SUHD models feature edge-lit backlight systems with local dimming, and all produce expanded color palettes using "Nano crystal color" technology otherwise known as quantum dots - learn more about how LCDs and quantum dot materials work in this article.

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The HDR advantage

An advantage of the JS9500's full array backlight is that it generates a lot of light. When displaying a relatively small white window test pattern, the JS9500 produced about 930 nits in its brightest picture mode - two or three times the light output of most LCD televisions. However, a possible heat-related issue causes the JS9500's peak light output to decreases slightly over time, and I'm consulting with Samsung for further clarification and will update this article with any new findings. All of that eye-melting brightness from a dark colored screen is optimal for producing a well-contrasted picture even in rooms with lots of ambient light. However, high dynamic range (HDR) video is what the JS9500's impressive light output was meant to showcase. All Samsung SUHD TVs decode the metadata embedded within HDR-authored video content enabling the accurate depiction of an increased range of luminance information. In addition, the quantum dot enhancement of the SUHD series allows it to produce an expanded color palette that measured impressively close to the DCI color specification used extensively in commercial cinema.

Samsung provided a few curated clips to show off the JS9500's HDR and expanded color capabilities, and Amazon recently updated its video streaming app for the SUHD platform to add HDR support. Amazon's HDR-enhanced content selection includes a remastered season of Mozart in the Jungle, the pilot episode of Red Oaks, and more "coming soon". Examining episodes of Mozart before and after the HDR update, light sources in many scenes became more impactful without sacrificing dark details and superb black levels. Sunlit outdoor scenes appeared more natural with touches of brilliant intensity. The polished metal parts of instruments gleamed in a more realistic fashion. A lighter igniting in a dimly lit smoke filled room popped with colorful contrast, and lamp lighting in otherwise dimly lit rooms was almost too bright to gaze upon directly. The dynamic range within these scenes exceeded anything I've seen in an LCD television to date, and I look forward to seeing the selection of HDR content grow.

HDR video support is the primary feature of the upcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray players due later this year. These players will require an HDMI port that's been upgraded to the new 2.0a standard, and Samsung indicated that this update for its SUHD TVs would be forthcoming but provided no further details. The recently finalized Ultra HD Blu-ray specification also incorporates expanded color palette support that greatly exceeds the HD palette in use today. With streaming and physical UHD video options quickly maturing, it won't be much longer before we'll be able to gaze upon popular content with expanded color and HDR on a capable TV like the JS9500.

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2015 Vizio M-Series 4K UHD TV Preview

Remote
The curved and contoured shape of the new baton-style Bluetooth/IR remote feels terrific in the hand, but I did miss the larger combination directional pad/cursor control button of the 2014 Smart Remote (view my video demo). Also, the directional pad on the 2014 remote provided more tactile feedback with raised sections that were easier to locate without glancing down, but the new remote adds backlighting to most of its buttons. The Wiimote-like cursor control offered by the new remote maintained the smooth precision I've come to appreciate in Samsung's premium designs although a few software-related hiccups were observed when transitioning between apps and menus.

Ports
The JS9500 has two ports on the rear of its curved chassis: one for connecting the power cord and the other for attaching a custom 2-meter cable that connects the One Connect input box. The 78-inch and 88-inch models include a 3-meter One Connect cable, but this may still restrict wall mounting options where routing the cable in-wall is desired. All four HDMI ports on the One Connect box were HDCP 2.2 enabled for use with protected source devices like the Sony 4K Media Player (read my review), and a check with the DVDO AVLab TPG (read my review) showed all HDMI ports accepted 4K60 input with 4:2:0 color sub-sampling as well as 4K24/30 with 4:4:4 sub-sampling. An included dongle provides legacy analog AV input options.

Apps
Samsung's 2015 flagship TV features the company's new Linux-based operating system dubbed Tizen. The new interface makes better use of a 4K UHD display with larger and more detailed app icons and increased resolution of the app interface compared to Samsung's 2014 Smart TVs. I was also please to see the TV's on-screen cursor now functions with Netflix but this control feature is unavailable with most other apps. A new OS takes time to mature, and the SUHDs are awaiting the arrival of popular app options like HBO Go and MLB.tv. A recent update added Sony's PlayStation Now game streaming service and it most welcome as the other game app options proved unremarkable and unwieldy. PlayStation Now on the JS9500 requries a DualShock 4 controller as I was unable to pair a DualShock 3 controller I used when originally testing the service on the Sony XBR-X900B UHD TV (read my review). UHD streaming options continue to grow, and the JS9500 goes beyond the ever-present Amazon and Netflix with YouTube, UltraFlix, M-Go, and more in the works.

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The JS9500's built-in 1080p camera retracts flush into the frame when not needed and laser-cut ports for stereo microphones blend seamlessly into the upper bezel. The good AV quality of the camera setup had me appreciating the JS9500 as a couch-friendly Skype machine.

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OTA
Free HD television is always a good thing (ask a cord cutter), and the over-the-air (OTA) tuner built into the JS9500 made short work out of scanning for local channels. The quick guide that appears on the right side of the screen made it easy to scroll to the desired channel, but the grid style channel guide remains as sluggish as last year's version and is best avoided.

Uniformity and viewing angles
The JS9500's curved screen exhibited very good uniformity when displaying a full screen dark gray test pattern that makes anomalies easy to spot. Interestingly, disabling the TV's local dimming feature (aka Smart LED) significantly degraded uniformity with glowing cloudy spots noted across the screen. However, it's unlikely that a JS9500 owner would disable a key visual feature of the TV so this observation is largely a non-issue.

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Viewing angle performance with the JS9500 was typically narrow for VA panel technology. In a dimly lit viewing environment with a calibrated picture setup, color saturation and contrast decreased dramatically when viewed anywhere besides front and center. Slight off-axis viewing also revealed increased halos around bright objects on dark backgrounds.

Calibration
My experience calibrating the JS9500 for optimal HD performance was similar to what I've found with last year's premium Samsung models: the factory calibration (Movie picture preset) was very good and it was easy to improve upon the results with careful white balance setup using the 2-point and 10-point controls. Looking into the 4K future, the JS9500 delivered impressive accuracy when targeting the expanded DCI color space (Auto color space enabled), but it will be a few more years before we see a TV come close to covering UHD's gigantic Rec. 2020 color space.

Video processing
Samsung TVs offer some of the best video processing capabilities of any brand, and the JS9500 exhibited very good performance with the variety tests I fed it. High frequency signal results were some of the best I've seen with only a slight chroma roll off that appeared similar to the performance of the 2014 Sony X900B (read my review) and X950B. The JS9500 breezed through the classic 1080i HQV benchmark including a superb diagonal edge filtering result that Sony TVs never seem to get right. Video lag testing using the Leo Bodnar meter saw a reduction to 24.7ms with the TV's Game Mode enabled - less than 2 video frames with 60Hz input making the JS9500 a very good option for gamers.

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TV Picture Setup Guide

Eyes on
Loading up the 1080p masterpiece Samsara, I found the Sony X950B was slightly better at revealing the darkest details while the JS9500 excelled at maintaining darker letterboxed bars. The movie's many sky and desert panning shots revealed no signs of dirty screen effect (DSE), and the wide variety of skin tones were fantastically represented. I set the TV's custom dejudder setting to off for the most part, but a setting of 1 or 2 (out of 10) did a good job of minimizing this artifact without making it look like a soap opera. Samsara's military parade scene showed that increasing the dejudder setting to 6 or 7 dramatically improved motion resolution at the expense of an unnaturally smoothed presentation.

The Batman classic The Dark Knight is another reference title in my Blu-ray library, and the JS9500's precise white balance setup produced impressively consistent colors and detail throughout the luminance range. Fair skin tones like that of Bruce Wayne highlighted the JS9500's viewing angle limitations as there was noticeable washout with a single step left or right off-center. The Sony X950B exhibited similar artifacts but at slightly wider off-axis angles.

Bottom line
I'm convinced that the Samsung JS9500 Series will rank as one of the very best LCDs of 2015 with its main competition being Sony's new flagship X940C that also features a full array LED backlight system with local dimming. LG's quantum dot-enhanced UF9500 is an edge-lit LCD that likely won't come close to the light output of Samsung or Sony's best LCDs but it costs significantly less. When seated in its viewing sweet spot, the JS9500 delivered a superb HD viewing experience with epic contrast and sublimely accurate color across all luminance levels. During the few weeks I've spent examining the JS9500 it has received several software updates that have improved its performance and fixed minor glitches. I'm pleased to see the UHD format moving beyond simply more pixels, and I'm even more delighted to see capable TVs like the Samsung JS9500 standing ready to deliver a superb presentation of today's and tomorrow's best video content.

Review: Vizio 5.1 Sound Bar System

If you ask me what audio gear you should consider for a quality home theater setup, I'll invariably direct you toward a decent AV receiver (AVR) and separate speakers. However, not everyone is ready or willing to deal with the added complexity of AVR ownership, and this is where a kit like the Vizio 40" 5.1 Sound Bar System (SB4051-C0) is a near-perfect fit.

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In the box
The Vizio SB4051 delivers true 6-channel listening with a setup experience that simply doesn't get any easier. In the box, the SB4051 features an accessory pack that conveniently includes every cable you may need to get the system connected to a TV or other audio source device. The pack also includes wall-mounting brackets for the sound bar and surround speakers.

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Speaker setup
Speaker setup starts with centering the sound bar above or below a TV screen; low-profile feet give the sound bar an overall height of only 3-inches. The wireless subwoofer can be placed anywhere there's a nearby power outlet, and the rear-channel speakers connect to the powered sub via ample 25-foot color-coded wires. This configuration eliminates a wire run between the front and rear speakers for a clean look. Vizio claims a 60-foot range with the wireless sub, and its connection proved completely stable at the much shorter distances I tested it at.

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Design
Matte-finished metal protectively caps the ends of the sound bar and tops the speakers and sub. The added heft of the metal accents and finely-perforated black metal grills that wrap each speaker literally feel like quality touches. The latter also admirably masked fingerprints and dust.

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The SB4051's remote control is simple yet effective with its handful of buttons and a 1-line display at the top that enables easy navigation of more than a dozen controls.

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A row of indicator lights along the bar's left side provide a visual confirmation of level and other system adjustments, and the lights automatically fade to a single subtle point after use.

A 5-button row of controls centered on the sound bar blend in well with the overall design while providing basic control options.

TV Picture Setup Guide

Hook it up
Unlike most sound bars that provide a basic array of coaxial/optical/analog audio inputs, the Vizio SB4051 adds an HDMI passthrough that supports Audio Return Channel (ARC) with compatible TVs. Another benefit of the SB4051's HDMI input is its compatibility with affordable HDMI auto-switchers for connecting multiple digital source devices.

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The Vizio SB4051 is Bluetooth-enabled making it easy to link a smartphone or other mobile device for simple and convenient audio streaming. Regular Bluetooth audio streaming adds additional compression that can degrade audio quality, and this sound bar alleviates this shortcoming with aptX technology that enabled CD-like sound quality from compatible mobile devices.

Digital audio format support for the SB4051 includes Dolby Digtal, DTS, and several flavors of Linear PCM at up to 96kHz.

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Speaker setup
The sound bar incorporates three 2.75-inch drivers while each surround speaker features a single 2.5-inch driver. A 6-inch driver in the ported sub adds an appreciable amount of low-end kick to the speakers' small but capable drivers. A built-in quick test announces each speaker to verify the connection and proper location, but properly balancing the speaker levels would require a sound pressure meter and appropriate test material. I'd like to see Vizio incorporate an automated microphone setup for levels and timing in future models.

Listen up
After breaking in the sound bar system for a few days, I sampled a variety of audio sources including FLAC-encoded music tracks streamed via aptX-enabled Bluetooth from my phone. Vizio claims the SB4051 can produce a sound pressure level of 102dB with <1% THD, and cranking it up proved to be a neighbor-awakening experience with ample volume and plenty of distortion-free bass. Podcasts and TV shows exhibited exceptional dialog clarity from the main sound bar channels, and DTS TruVolume is available if audio normalization is needed.

Switching to high-bitrate Blu-ray content, the award-winning sound track from the movie Master and Commander highlighted the system's surround sound capabilities and impactful bass response. The movie's quieter sequences are filled with detailed ambient sounds that were well-rendered by the system's five speaker drivers. The movie's depiction of classic naval warfare gave the subwoofer a chance to shine as it added very tangible sonic accents without ever overwhelming the performance.

The album Sea Change by Beck features audio tracks that approach the bitrate and sample rate limits of the Blu-ray format, and the SB4051 delivered superb clarity and detail with vocals and numerous stringed instruments. Given the SB4051's relatively small speaker drivers, the wireless sub again proved its worth with its ability to transparently reproduce lower frequencies.

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Bottom line
I have a fondness for products that perform without a lot of fuss, and the Vizio 40" 5.1 Sound Bar System (SB4051-C0) delivered a listening experience that approached the quality of my home setup of separate surround sound speakers and a capable AVR. The Vizio SB4051 lacks the automated speaker setup tool included with many AVRs that optimizes levels and timing, but the entire kit is hundreds of dollars less than my own admittedly value-orientated home theater audio components. Modern AVRs often integrate useful features like HDMI switching, network multimedia playback, and support of a wide range of codecs. However, the Vizio SB4051's beauty is in its simplicity and flexibility while reducing the number of wires required to enjoy a true 5.1-channel listening experience.

2015 Vizio M-Series 4K UHD TVs

Updated March 5, 2016: pricing and calibration notes

The value-focused folks at Vizio have announced a new and improved M-Series TV lineup. Last year's M-Series televisions proved popular for delivering a good value on premium LCD features like full array local dimming (FALD) for superior picture contrast, 1080p screen resolution, and a wide array of screen sizes.

The big news for the 2015 Vizio M-Series TVs is an upgrade to 4K ultra high-definition (UHD).

Quality design touches for the new M-Series include cast aluminum feet, a thin bezel design, and a slimmed profile making it even more attractive when wall mounted.

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2015 Vizio E-Series Preview

Specs

The new M-Series TVs share many core features, but there are some technical differences depending on screen size.

  • 3840x2160 resolution
  • HDMI 2.0 + HDCP 2.2
  • 4K UHD playback at 60Hz
  • 32-zones of local dimming (43-inch model has 28-zones)
  • Backlight scanning for motion resolution enhancement
  • 60Hz refresh rate: 43-inch, 49-inch, 50-inch, and 55-inch
  • 120Hz refresh rate: 60-inch, 65-inch, 70-inch, 75-inch, and 80-inch
  • 802.11ac dual-band WiFi
  • 2-sided remote with backlit QWERTY keyboard

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Sizes and pricing

                  * = within 5% of lowest price

M-Series 43-inch (28-zones FALD/60Hz): $498

M-Series 49-inch (32-zones FALD/60Hz): $574*

M-Series 50-inch (32-zones FALD/60Hz): $676

M-Series 55-inch (32-zones FALD/60Hz): $798*

M-Series 60-inch (32-zones FALD/120Hz): $1198

M-Series 65-inch (32-zones FALD/120Hz): $1348

M-Series 70-inch (32-zones FALD/120Hz): $2093

M-Series 75-inch (32-zones FALD/120Hz): $3070

M-Series 80-inch (32-zones FALD/120Hz): $3798

Many models include additional discounts for Amazon Prime Members

Calibration note (February 2016)
I've now calibrated a few M-Series TVs, and some trends have emerged. All were adjustable to provide a faithful representation of HD/Rec. 709 video sources with fine white balance and color accuracy. Compared to the 60Hz models (screen sizes under 60-inches), the larger 120Hz M-Series TVs with recent firmware are providing a very well calibrated experience right out of the box via the related picture presets. Custom preset options made it easy to generate day/night viewing configurations usable with any input or app. Bravo, Vizio!

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Bottom line
The new 2015 Vizio M-Series 4K UHD televisions have taken over where the 2014 P-Series TVs left off. Compared to the 2015 Vizio D-Series 4K UHD TVs available through select resellers, the new M-Series TVs offer an increased refresh rate (120Hz vs 60Hz) and twice the number of zones of local dimming (~32 vs ~16) for improved picture contrast. It remains to be seen if the P-Series will be refreshed for 2015, but it seems increasingly unlikely given Vizio's recent announcement that its Reference Series TVs (aka the R-Series) will be introduced later this year.

Lab Notes: Vizio P-Series

Updated March 30, 2015: added setup details; corrected 2-point white balance chart

I recently spent an afternoon calibrating the picture of a 70-inch Vizio P-Series 4K UHD television, and I wanted to share my findings.

The P-Series in question was running software version 1.1.19 (latest at the time) that incorporates a variety of fixes, new features, and udpates.

2016 Vizio SmartCast P-Series

Pre-calibration
I recorded the TV's color and grayscale performance prior to making any changes. In this case, the owner had done little besides enable the TV's Calibrated Dark picture preset that reduces the backlight level and targets a 2.2 gamma (electro-optical transfer function) setup.

Not bad! Vizio is clearly performing a factory calibration on its P-Series televisions before they leave the assembly line. RGB mixing with this factory preset was consistent although slightly too blue, and the measured gamma response (white line) tracked well with the preset's claimed 2.2 value.

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Default color quality
A check of the Dark Calibrated preset's default color quality across saturation levels revealed an average overall performance.

Most of the above results exhibited an error value above 3 (green line) indicating that a person with normal vision would see a difference between this TV's output and the target HD reference color in motion video; with static side-by-side color comparisons the ideal maximum error approaches 1.

TV Picture Setup Guide

Post 2-point
Compare the above to the result obtained after adjusting the TV's 2-point white balance controls.

Nice! A flatter response overall (grayscale and gamma), although some of the darker grays are now slightly green positive; a blue positive error is preferable to red or, especially, green positive errors.

These are the values I applied in the Color Calibration > Color Tuner menu to obtain the above result (starting with the Calibrated Dark preset).

Please keep in mind that every TV, including every P-Series, is slightly different; the values I applied may not produce similar results with another, albeit similar, television.

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Take it to 11
The Vizio P-Series has an 11-point white balance setup that can be used to fine-tune the product of its 2-point controls. Using these controls, this was the result I settled upon.

The average white balance error was slightly reduced and I was able to improve upon the balance (RGB) of the darker grays. Also, gamma tracked slightly closer to the 2.2 spec.

The 11-point white balance setup for this TV used the following values:

The P-Series 11-point white balance controls would benefit from increased granularity, but I was pleased with the final results.

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Color tuning
If I had to pinpoint a shortcoming of the P-Series' picture quality, it would be primary color (red, green, blue) accuracy; fully-saturated red and blue were particularly challenged. Compare the above color saturation errors with this result after performing a 11-point white balance setup.

Much improved but red results were mixed as the lightly saturated levels exhibited increased errors. Diving into the P-Series' Color Tuner tool, this was the final color saturation error result.

I was pleased with this color error reduction. Primary color errors at 100% saturation were a bit higher than I like to see, but this was a hardware limitation involving the interaction of the P-Series' LED light source and its color filter. Here is above data plotted on a CIE chart.

Notice how far off 100% red and blue are compared to the target values (white boxes). However, this is a solid improvement compared to where we started (see below). Here are the color tuner settings I applied to achieve the above result.

Vizio P-Series UHD TV Update

Below is the color saturation plot prior to calibration; fine-tuning the P-Series primary and secondary color responses for improved accuracy resulted in a more natural-looking and pleasing picture.

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Color check
Another test that I find useful is a color checker tool that measures a couple of dozen hues that include simulated skin tones, foliage, and a few shades of gray.

Much better! A few hues pushed past the 3.0 error level; the orange/yellow errors were due to the rather extreme error of the TV's red primary.

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Additional settings
Finishing off the P-Series setup, here is the configuration I used for the controls in the "More Picture" settings menu.

The Active LED Zones control is for toggling the full-array local dimming system on/off. Smooth Motion Effect ruins the look of movies so it was disabled. Clear Action enables the TV's backlight blinking feature for improved motion resolution without unsightly video smoothing artifacts. I usually disable all forms of video noise reduction when calibrating most TVs, however, this time I selected Low to help minimize compression artifacts and other visual quirks that were noticeable when the TV was processing and displaying non-4K video sources.

DVDO AVLab Test Pattern Generator

Bottom line
Software updates have made the Vizio P-Series a better television since its Summer 2014 release. The improvements that video calibration enabled in this TV's color accuracy and grayscale consistency were evident in its reproduction of movies and television programming; the sense that we were now seeing a picture that more faithfully represented the careful work of the director, cinematographer, and editors was obvious and pleasing to all. Not a bad result for a value 4K UHD TV.

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