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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

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.

2015 Vizio E-Series TVs

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.

Overscan is Evil

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.

Best 2016 TVs + Tech

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.


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.

Reader Comments (21)


Did you look at the regular Calibrated setting at all? How does it look in less than ideal viewing conditions?

Thanks Much
Steven Leary

Hi Steve! One thing I really like about the P-Series is how bright the picture can be...plenty of brightness for even a sun-drenched room!

March 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteven Leary

Robert, could you please tell us what the other picture (Basic and Advanced) you used during your calibration?

Hi Geoff! I used the Calibrated Dark preset and under "More Picture" settings I set the Clear Action and Noise reduction settings to LOW. Smooth Motion was OFF and Active LED Zones was ON. I'll post and update to this article with this information (and more.)

March 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGeoff

Can you post your basic picture settings?

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

In the 2-point setting table, just wondering if you transposed the Blue/Green column headings. Or is it supposed to be Red/Green/Blue as per the headings in the TV?

Thank you, Dave! I did indeed transpose the column labels...fixing now!

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDave

What do you have the basic settings set to?

March 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTom Thumb

Does this dude even look at the comments on here?
I do read the comments! Getting caught up on comments now...

March 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBalls Deep

Hey Guys

I was my TV Robert calibrated. Here are the basic picture settings after the calibration

Backlight: 30
Brightness: 50
Contrast: 45
Color: 50
Tint: 0
Sharpness: 10

Thanks for posting this, Howard! The basic settings were not changed from the preset defaults. Backlight level can be tweaked for eye comfort, and I found a Sharpness of 10 didn't introduce any obvious ringing artifacts so I left it there (instead turning it completely off.)

March 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHoward

Hi Howard,

Thanks for the posting the basic settings. Can you post the Advanced ones as well?

March 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPancake

Do you have recommended settings for the Vizio M422i-B1?

March 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRoss

Thanks for posting!

March 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

One question, my clear action on has a on or off. How do i set it to low?

March 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTom Thumb

One question, my clear action only has a on or off. How do i set it to low?

March 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTom Thumb

i have played with basic settings almost to satisfaction but didn't spring for pro calibration. Would your settings for color and white calibration likely at least be an improvement over the factory's? I'm still seeing some fuzzy-washed out detail particularly on dim scenes or scenes with large areas of the same color.

May 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Is there going to be any calibration updates now with 1.2.23 update out? This has been my go to website, I hope to see some updates soon! Thanks!

Hi Frabk! In most cases, firmware updates don't alter a TV's calibration setup and often include bug fixes and feature additions. That said, I'll keep an eye out for a P-Series to check out with the latest update and report back.
Take care.

July 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterFrabk

I second Frabk's request for a re-check with this new firmware version 1.2.23 UHD, which has added some new settings.

July 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohnnyice

I second Frabk's request for a re-check with this new firmware version 1.2.23 UHD, which has added some new settings.

July 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohnnyice

just purchase the 50" 4k vizio... P series I believe... Could you send me the best settings for this set? I do not use it for gaming... movies and sports...

August 19, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteralfredo

Like "Alfredo" I also have a 50" B1 (240hz) version and the motherboard was just replaced yesterday (faulty optical). I have the 1.2.23UHD update in place and would LOVE it if you could also send me the optimal settings since I have to start over. Both for the normal TV options and the color tuner if it is not too much trouble. It would be MUCH appreciated.

August 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEd King

My comment is actually a cry for help! I purchased a Vizio model P502ui-B1e several weeks ago. It was actually a good buy until I discovered that I can't adjust it to a decent viewing level. I attempted to calibrate it using your values for the Color Tuner Setup, but what I get on my set is different chart. It has two additional selections, for "Offset" and "Gain", under the Red, Green, and Blue headings in addition to the Hue, Saturation, And Brightness. The White Balance Setup, only has a two point setup.
One is Offset, the other is Gain for Red, Green, and Blue columns. I literally just don't know where top start. I am 75 and somewhat Technology Challenged. If anyone out there has instructions for the basic setup (the Factory Default is terrible) and the calibration selections for this type of Vizio configuration, I would appreciate your help immensely. I can't even find a local technician or engineer that can help me.

Best Regards
Have a great day, everyone!!!!
Larry L. (-: :-)

October 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLarry L.

Still no updates since the newest Vizio update... :-/

October 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterD. Trump


Have you had any experience calibrating the 2016 P-Series yet. If so, please update your P-Seires setup. I'd be interested in your take on the new models. I bought a P55-C1 back in June and have yet to do any calibration.

August 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarcus Hall

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