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Update: Vizio P-Series Ultra HD

Originally posted on August 21, 2014
Updated on April 15, 2015: clarified specs and testing details (see Testing notes)

The wait is over! Retail listings for the new Vizio P-Series Ultra HD TVs have finally surfaced and its value appears strong.

2016 Vizio SmartCast P-Series

2014 Vizio P-Series Setup Notes

Amazon is listing P-Series screen sizes of 50-inches55-inches, 60-inches, 65-inches, and 70-inches.

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The critical specs of the P-Series include:

  • 3840 x 2160p screen resolution
  • Full-array local dimming LED backlight system
    • ~64 active dimming zones
      • 70-inch model has 72 zones
  • 120Hz refresh rate with backlight scanning
    • 50-inch model is 60Hz
  • Quad-core GPU + Dual-core CPU
  • 802.11ac WiFi
  • HEVC H.265 codec
  • HDMI 2.0 + HDCP 2.2
    • HDMI 1, 2, and 5 are HDCP 2.2
    • HDMI 5 is HDMI 2.0 (others are 1.4b)
  • Smart TV features with UHD streaming options

TV Picture Setup Guide

Testing notes
Update 1/13/2015: Vizio has released a new P-Series firmware update (v1.1.14) that has mostly corrected the stuck sharpness algorithm noted below. This update also added new 4K video streaming options from AmazonToon Goggles, and UltraFlix. Testing the new firmware revealed no improvement for the observed clipping and loss of fine color (chroma) detail with component-encoded video sources. Vizio claims the new update also added new picture quality enhancements to the TV's full-array local dimming (FALD) backlight system and improved sharpness and motion controls for a wider range of video and film-based sources.

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How to update
Internet connected Vizio televisions perform regular checks for software updates and should require no user interaction. However, if a P-Series owner wishes to check for software updates, follow this procedure:

Go to MENU > System > System Information > Service Check > press 'OK' > select 'Yes' to perform update check. Then turn TV off and wait at least 20 minutes for the update cycle to complete.

Readers have commented that while it is possible to check for a software update, a serial number system used by Vizio determines when a particular TV receives the updated software.


The P-Series has five HDMI ports that are compatible with 4K input: ports 1-4 accept 4K UHD video at up to 30Hz and HDMI 5 allows 4K input at 60Hz - confirmed with DVDO AVLab TPG (read review). HDMI ports 1, 2, and 5 are HDCP 2.2-enabled for use with copy protected 4K sources like the Sony FMP-X10 Media Player (read my review). However, the FMP-X10's 60Hz output would require the use of HDMI 5 for full output format compatibility. Also, HDMI 5 provides no video processing for common video formats like 480i, 720p, or 1080i resulting in reduced picture quality compared to the use of other HDMI inputs on the TV; the TV does warn the user to change inputs if an attempt is made to use this port with sub-4K video sources. For P-Series owners who prefer to feed the display though a single HDMI connection, use of HDMI 5 would require a capable AVR or external scaler to perform 4K upconversion. Otherwise, use of multiple HDMI inputs on the TV are needed to properly handle common SD/HD formats and 4K60 input.

How to Watch 4K

Also, it has been reported and confirmed by Vizio that the P-series LCD panel technology varies with screen size. The 55 inch version features an IPS panel whereas the other screen sizes in the series feature VA panel technology that produces deeper black levels for improved picture contrast and apparent color saturation. For optimal picture performance with the P-series televisions, screen sizes of 60-inches, 65-inches, and 70-inches are the recommended options as they would provide a VA panel with a greater number of zones of local dimming.

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"Photoshopped" picture quality
A test session with a 50-inch P-series TV confirmed that its original firmware suffered from mediocre 1080i video processing and a broken sharpness control that added harsh edge enhancements to the picture. This "stuck" sharpness filter added virtual detail not present in the original video signal, and it was clearly evident in all examined content including still images, Blu-ray movies, and 4K video.

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Update 1/13/2015Both images below show the Vizio P-Series running the updated v1.1.14 firmware with TV's sharpness setting at 0 (off). The ringing artifacts in image on the right appeared when feeding the P-Series a 4K UHD source and remained visible when switching to HD formats like 720p or 1080i on the same input. The ringing artifacts would vanish again if the sharpness setting was adjusted at all. Thankfully, use of TV's 4K UHD video streaming apps didn't trigger the reappearance of the sharpness artifacts, and only users who are switching between 4K UHD and HD video formats on the same HDMI input are likely to encounter this issue.

Update 2/26/2015
Vizio released another firmware update (v1.1.19) for the P-Series that is reported to fix the sharpness setting so that it doesn't reset under the conditions I found with firmware v1.1.14 (described above). This update is also reported to stabilize color with HDMI 5 when configured with certain picture presets.

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Unresolved items
Another oddity noted during picture setup was that component-encoded video sources (YCbCr) like a Blu-ray player or the DVDO AVLab TPG (read my review) fed to the P-Series resulted in crushed dark detail below digital level 16 and clipped peak bright detail above level 235. Reducing the TV's color control revealed levels in the 242-243 range but resulted in an unacceptably desaturated picture. Full RGB input (0-254) appeared to be properly displayed.

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Not so factory calibrated
The P-Series features two factory calibrated presets: Calibrated and Calibrated Dark. The latter of these otherwise similar presets defaults to a reduced backlight level and slightly increased gamma (2.1 vs 2.2) that's better suited for viewing in a dimly lit environment. Grayscale measurements revealed overly blue hues compared to the more neutral D65 standard used in film and video production. The P-Series adds an 11-point grayscale setup in addition to the 2-point tools that many TVs provide. These controls proved effective at taming the bluish grays.

Color management needed
The menu used for grayscale calibration also features 6-color controls for adjusting hue, saturation, and brightness. I've had the opportunity to spend more time with the P-Series color management setup, and fine tuning the display via careful calibration can greatly improve its color accuracy. However, some fully-saturated colors (blue in particular) were uncorrectably out of spec.

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Almost there
The Vizio P-Series Ultra HD television isn't videophile-grade, but the latest update barely nudged it into a value 4K UHD recommendation. Calibration benefits any TV, and it's a must for the Vizio P-Series to fully realize its picture potential. Vizio has (mostly) corrected my biggest image quality complaint about the P-Series, and I look forward to seeing what other improvements can be achieved with future updates. Also, the P-Series' 4K file support includes H.265/HEVC but not 4K video files encoded into the H.264/AVC format like those produced by the new GoPro HERO4 Black. Vizio was hesitant to provide a firm answer as to if or when we can expect 4K H.264/AVC file support to be added to the P-Series. Stay tuned!

Reader Comments (80)

Nice! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Actually it has a 240hz refresh rate.

No 4K TV available today operates at a 240Hz refresh rate, including the Vizio P-series. Read the wording used by Vizio - nowhere does it say 240Hz "refresh rate". Even the use of "effective refresh rate" has been reduced/removed.

October 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKyle

Robert, I'm a fan of HDNation. I'm looking to get a TV in the next three to four months. Are you impressed enough with the 70" Vizio P Series (regardless of price) to be satisfied with the picture quality? The reason I ask is I might buy a 70" P Series, but I might wait for a 65" Panasonic AX900 (which as of yet doesn't have a price or US release date). Is it worth waiting for the AX900, or do you have some other recommendation? Thanks.

The Panasonic AX900 will be in a league of its own. Budget permitting, and if you can wait, I'd see how the AX900 impresses reviewers.

October 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

Only one port accepts 4k? Imagery I've seen seems to show 4k input for every port, but it will only accept 4k at 30Hz with one of the ports at 60Hz. Did the specifications change prior to release? All of Vizio's imagery still seems to show this, and checking their spec sheet pages currently shows this for HDMI:

HDMI Ports 5 (2 side / 3 down)
· HDMI Port 1 Spec UHD Video @30Hz, HDCP 2.2 support
· HDMI Port 2 Spec UHD Video @30Hz, HDCP 2.2 support
· HDMI Port 3 Spec UHD Video @30Hz
· HDMI Port 4 Spec UHD Video @30Hz
· HDMI Port 5 Spec UHD Video @60Hz, HDCP 2.2 support

Thank you for this info, Marc! I've updated the article and will update it again upon further testing.

October 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarc

I see that Sam's club is having the 60inch on sale on Black Friday for 1000 bucks. Do you think that is the best bang for my buck at that price?

Hi Barry, until Vizio updates the P-series firmware to fix its forced picture "enhancement", I recommend holding off on the purchase of this TV.

November 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

For 1000 dollars at Sams club how can you pass this TV up at 60in? I have been counting down the days. I read a few reviews that said the non 4k picture quality on this TV is excellent compared to LEDs which cost double the price, how do you feel about this claim? I was really hoping the UHD upscaling engine would improve all picture quality, whether from my cable box or PS4.


Hi Mike. Until Vizio releases an update for the P-Series that fixes its stuck sharpening algorithm and some video processing quirks, I am suggesting people hold off on a P-Series purchase. Vizio claims to be working on a fix, but they have no ETA.

November 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike

I live in the SF bay area and have had the chance to see new flat screens as they are released. My last buy was about 5 years ago, a Samsung edge lit 46 inch just before smart feature integration. I had looked at newer sets for some time, but did not find anything compelling in my price range. Then, in November, I saw the p70 in Costco next to the non 3d Samsung 65 curved screen side by side playing und content, priced just under $2500, and I was awestruck with the picture and size of the p70, and stood for 15 minutes taking in the picture quality, sharpness and brightness. I began to research online uhd and Visio in particular, but still was not ready to bite, having been burnt as an early adopter more than once. However, when I saw the black Friday price under 2000, and had read mostly positive reviews, I got the next to the last one left at the local Costco,. I am now 64, and my eyes are not what they used to be, but this set continue to impress me. The remote control is full featured with an apps key and keyboard on the back that were very intuitive to use.

I will say that this picture is not as appealing as the oled set I saw, but that pricepoint is not in my grasp. Maybe in another 5 years I will take another look.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjima

Hi Robert,

I purchased a curved Samsung 65" UHD set at Best Buy on Black Friday with high hopes. Brought it home and had DirecTV out the next day to setup the built in DirecTV set to allow for 4K streaming from my Genie. I connected my Samsung BluRay player and set off to evaluate the set. Sadly it is now back at Best Buy - returned after one week of being in my living room. Although content from NetFlix and the very limited DirecTV programs looked stunning, the normal HD channels looked awful. And the SD channels even worse. Keep in mind I am upgrading from two older Samsung Plasma displays and the black levels on the Samsung set were just not plasma quality. I really, really wanted to like the Samsung UHD set, but in the end couldn't justify the 2k price tag. I've heard / read positive reviews on the Vizio 70" model and read with excitement your comments on the set, but am on the fence regarding the update to correct the sharpening issue. I am writing this on December 16th and was hoping you might have updated info on whether Vizio has issued an update to correct this flaw? Also, given my love of plasma sets, am I going to be happy with the black levels of the Vizio 70 inches? Plus, I miss seeing you and Patrick on HD Nation!. Thanks for your time and guidance on this purchase.
Mark in Atlanta

Hi Mark, Vizio claimed they would have an update out by now, but my guess is that it won't happen until after CES in January. I am looking forward to seeing this happen as the P-Series backlight system is Vizio's best (most zones). Vizio P-Series black levels are very good, but it needed an update for the stuck sharpness algorithm, clipping levels, and some other less critical video processing issues.

December 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark Atlanta, GA

I have a P602ui-B3 and have everything connected to my non-4K-upconverting Onkyo TX-NR515 and from that into HDMI 5, so that I can get the very low display latency for my game consoles: TiVo Roamio, WD TV Live, Roku 3, Panasonic BDP, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and this PC. None of them can output a 4K signal; most of them only output 1080p60, but from TiVo I give it 480p60, 720p60, 1080i60, 1080p60 and 1080p24 and it upconverts the HD resolutions beautifully and 480p adequately. Most of my cable HD TV recordings display with stunning sharpness and clarity (it will not display a 480i signal at all, but I don't need it to). All of the picture mode adjustments appear to be effective. I don't know what it can do to a signal on the other HDMI inputs that it can't do on HDMI 5 but I don't think that I need it to.

People report in the AVS Forum P-Series Owner's thread that they started receiving the new update a few days ago; Vizio has stated that they expect everyone to get it within a week or two (they said that before it started rolling out).

Hi Mike. That's excellent owner/user info! Thank you for providing your setup details and experience of using the P-Series.

December 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike Scott

Purchased the P502 yesterday at Walmart, after reading both your and C-Net's criticisms and positives of the P series.
The price was a main consideration and that the new software update is due soon, which will help with the sharpness issue. I couldn't justify the Samsung 8550 or Sony and took a chance.
The OTA picture out of the box was lousy, so I used C-Net's published calibration and am very happy. OTA is very good (including motion - some blurring, but not too bad to me) and blue ray is fabulous! I tried blue-ray discs, fantastic, and standard DVD's, merely super. The black's seem OK, as well as the colors.
We have a 42" Panasonic plasma as well and the Vizio is a fine upgrade in my opinion.

December 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAustin

Robert - I'll try you on Twitter, too.

Vizio/Amazon/others now selling the 55" P-series for $999. My brain is melting.

Recommendation? This has been my target price for a spell.

Hi Eideard, the 55" (as mentioned in the above article) is the oddball with the IPS panel that lacks the contrast performance of the other screen sizes. Other than that, it's the same.

January 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEideard

Eideard, I had the P55 for three weeks before deciding to trade up to the P60. I really enjoyed it. It's an LG IPS panel with lower contrast than the other models, but it has a few degrees wider viewing angles.

We were just talking about this in the P-Series owner's thread at AVS Forum; no one can remember anyone with a P55 complaining about it. Pro calibrators have been amazed by how well its colors dial in, whereas as it's notably difficult to get reds right on the P60 and P70 (Sharp VA panels).

The P55 is a great display for lighted room viewing. If you watch a lot of video in the dark, the higher contrast of the other models will be very noticeable.

January 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMike Scott

Thanks, Mike. No way I can squeeze anything bigger than the 55" in the entertainment corner. My wife would make me put it in the courtyard. :-]

But, thanks for your reply. Hadn't yet wandered over to AVS Forum, yet.

January 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEideard

OK, Mike -

Pulled the trigger this morning. P-type 55" arriving next Thursday afternoon, Amazon Prime white glove, etc.. Followed by usual shuffle: set in our wee guesthouse goes to local charity; our living room set > guesthouse.

Be wandering through AVSForum to check on calibration, soon.

Thank, again.

January 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEideard

i have a P series and it is a wonderful experience. Still waiting for the firmware update too.

January 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Hi Robert - I got the P702ui-B3 from Costco in December for under $2000 (a really great deal for a 4K TV) and I agree with you that there are many issues (both small and large) with the picture processing of the TV. I have instead "routed" all of my HDMI inputs through my Onkyo TX-NR609 that has its own 4K upscaling engine, and I can tell you that the picture is MUCH better with the Onkyo handling the upscaling. However, I am experiencing a flicker with the set sometimes, regardless of the type of content or if I connect the source directly into the TV or into the receiver. Would love to hear if you have any input on the flickering. I will be exchanging it this weekend and hopefully the replacement will not have the flicker. As an aside, I still have not received the firmware update, but I have seen reports in the AVSForums that it is being deployed.


January 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Bernard

Bought Vizio 4K 50" UHD P502ui-1BE at Wal-Mart $698.00. Watched a bunch of movies on it. Notice the back panel is getting HOT. It has bubbled the plastic outwards. Beleive 2- CPU's are causing heat. The area is around 6" on side of USB port within 8"X8" square. I have called Vizio. Anybody having trouble with back panel getting HOT?

January 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKeith

Quick follow up - exchanged the P702ui-B3 at Costco this weekend and all is well. No flickering at all... Must have been a bad one. Thanks!

January 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Bernard

I'm attempting the Jan 13th Firmware Update, Fingers Crossed.

January 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Could not "force" the update following the steps you listed. I have the VIZIO P502ui-B1E 50" 4K Ultra HD TV.

January 13, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterniner4life8

It's actually not possible to 'force' the update. The updates are based on a serial number system wherein the TV checks in at a specified rate. The steps Robert give forces the TV to check. But if your TV isn't in the current batch of serial numbers, it won't update.

January 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarc

No go for me. not yet.

January 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJason

It can help to do the Service Check procedure. I got the update a couple of days ago. I did a Service Check and turned the television off every time I expected to be away from it for 20 minutes or more (going to walk the dog, going grocery shopping, etc). The update came after the second time I did it on Monday.

January 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMike Scott

Finally Got it.

January 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Got it! Stunning. Uprezzing everything I expected. And ready for tons of 4K content. Providers who come through will get themselves a big jump over competitors.

As a DirecTV subscriber since ~3rd month on the street, I can't wait till they light up D14. half the hardware is rumored to be dedicated to 4K.

January 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEideard

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