Vizio P-Series Quantum Introduction

Vizio P-Series QuantumThere’s never been a better time to buy a 4K/UHD. And I can’t think of a better display to recommend under $2,000 than Vizio’s P-Series Quantum.

Before I get too far ahead, I should note that we’re actually going to cover two TVs in this review: Vizio’s flagship, the 65-inch P-Series Quantum TV (model PQ65-F1) and its step-down sibling, the 65-inch P-Series TV (model P65-F1). Our primary focus (and review rating) will focus on the P-Series Quantum. Both TVs live up to Vizio’s high performance, high value reputation.

But there’s an important note here: The P-Series Quantum signals that Vizio has aspirations to play in the high-end display arena.  The Quantum’s performance proves that Vizio shouldn’t just be whispered in the high-end discussion—it’s earned a right to be there.

Vizio’s Product Lineup

To avoid any confusion in this review, let me outline Vizio’s 4K/UHD product lineup. Vizio’s lineup is made up of the entry level D-Series. The lineup continues to the E-Series, M-Series, and finally the P-Series. Sitting like a crown above everything is the company’s flagship TV, the P-Series Quantum. I wish Vizio had come up with a clearer naming convention to distinguish the P-Series Quantum and the P-Series.  

While the model names may sound the same, they look and perform quite differently.  The P-Series Quantum (I’ll refer to it by its model number— PQ65-F1—or just “Quantum” from now on) is the company’s flagship and comes only in a 65-inch size.  You won’t find its performance, aesthetic refinements, and premium features on other models. I’ll cover the differences in detail further on.

Vizio PQ65-F1 Quantum TV 2000 nits

The Vizio P-Series Quantim is capable of delivering over 2000 nits peak brightness for stunning HDR images.

The P-Series, on the other hand, comes in three sizes: 55-inch, 65-inch, and 75-inch. The P-Series boasts excellent performance and value. The P-Series has notable aesthetic refinements over Vizio’s step-down models. My P-Series review sample, (the P65-F1) came in a 65-inch form factor so I could compare both side-by-side.

Vizio’s Quantum vs. P-Series

If you look at the differences on paper, you’ll note that the P-Series is an outstanding 4K/UHD TV. But once you compare the P-Series models to the Quantum, you’ll quickly see that the Quantum is a whole different animal.

Transmissive and Emissive Technologies

Both TVs feature Full Array Local Dimming (FALD). Unlike OLED, which is an emissive display, LEDs are transmissive. An emissive display technology, like OLED, generates its own light source. OLED TVs can turn every pixel on and off on the display. This is the main reason why OLED displays are capable of true black levels. It’s also important to note that while OLED excels at contrast, OLED displays can’t come close to the peak brightness of LED displays. Peak brightness is what makes bright highlights on HDR images really pop.

Transmissive technologies, like LED, require a light source—the backlight. The LCD panel then blocks the light to create the image. LEDs are capable of extremely high brightness level necessary for an exceptional HDR experience and typically have either edge lit or FALD backlights. Edge lit displays are economical but subject to sub-par black levels and significant blooming. Blooming is when a halo bleeds into a dark area around a bright spot in the display. 

FALD displays, by contrast have several “zones” or quadrants that can be dimmed so that the LCD panel isn’t “blocking” as much light or turned on/off independently. Being able to turn zones on or off improves the black level of the display, allows for brighter displays, and reduces (but doesn’t completely eliminate) blooming. As a general rule, the more FALD zones, the better the black level.

Differences between the P-Series and Quantum TVs

Now that we’ve looked at the display technologies, let’s take a deeper dive into the two models. Under the hood, the enhancements the Quantum offers vs. the P-Series are significant. They include:

  1. 192 local Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) zones in the Quantum vs 100 in the P65-F1
  2. Nearly 100% coverage of the P3 color space in the Quantum vs roughly 94% coverage of P3 in the P65-F1.
  3. Double the brightness in the Quantum: Over 2000 nits peak brightness in the Quantum vs. 1000 nits peak brightness in the P65-F1.  Note: Some companies give you brightness numbers with some marketing caveats. As you’ll see below, we confirmed Vizio’s brightness in our independent measurements. We want to give real credit to Vizio for achieving superb specs in real-world testing.
  4. The Quantum has better performance with its motion enhancement engine. There is a specified difference in the Clear Action value, which improves motion resolution. The improvement is a result of the increased brightness and zone count of the Quantum that increases the Clear Action value from 720 to 960. Note: I dislike both motion blur inherent with LED TVs and hate the “soap opera effect” even worse. The soap opera effect happens when a TV uses frame interpolation to reduce motion blur but ends up making the video content look like it was shot on a camcorder. In my personal testing I found the P-Series Clear Action (motion enhancement engine) very good and the Quantum’s exceptional.

Vizio P-Series and Quantum side by side

The P-Series (left) and Quantum (right) are outstanding TVs, but the Quantum’s stunning performance is in a league of its own.

In summary, with the Quantum, you get:

  • A significantly brighter TV
  • Better black levels
  • Wider color volume with nearly 100% P3 coverage
  • Better motion enhancement performance

In a nutshell, the specs and performance of the Quantum are so good that this is the first Vizio TV that I’d dare put up against the best LED TVs on the market today. I’d even consider it as an alternative to today’s OLED TVs (note, I didn’t say better). P65-F1 is also a superb performer and an outstanding value that shouldn’t be overlooked.

I did have the opportunity to see the Quantum with a 2018 LG OLED side by side. The brightness and color saturation on the Quantum just popped and its black level was very competitive.  I have some photos below to try and convey the pros and cons of each. Due to the Quantum’s superior peak brightness vs the LG OLED, it was impossible to capture the images of both displays properly.

You will, however, get a strong sense of the differences between the two displays. Side by side, the LG OLED—even though it is a stunning, spectacular, and reference display—looked somewhat muted next to the Quantum.  That’s a relative description, of course, since our eyes tend to like brighter images. The Quantum can get blindingly bright but does so at the expense of blasting the backlight through LCD “filters” or “lightgates” rather than what an emissive display like OLED. An LED-based display still can’t isolate specular highlights like an OLED’s emissive technology.

The point here is that  OLED displays remain today’s reference standard (but still far from perfect!). Nevertheless, it’s very impressive what Vizio has accomplished at the price point. The Quantum is an outstanding display that Vizio isn’t afraid to put head to head against OLED for comparison.

Vizio and LG OLED side by side

I did have the opportunity to see the Quantum with a 2018 LG OLED side by side. The photo doesn’t do the side-by-side justice.

The Quantum had significantly brighter specular highlights (as you can infer on the left) while the LG OLED (right) bested the the Quantum in black level. The comparison was anecdotal as neither display was calibrated but set to their out of the box profiles.

Vizio Quantum and HDR OLED side by side

The Quantum’s HDR performance (left) was nothing short of exceptional. The 2000 nits peak brightness of the Quantum was eye catching.  Notice, however, the superior performance of the LG OLED (left) in black areas and the LG’s ability to resist any hint of haloing/blooming.

The LG OLED also had a far wider off-axis viewing angle than the Quantum. The off-axis performance between an OLED and an LED display like the Vizio is significant.

Visual Examples of the Impact of FALD Zones on Image Quality and Black Level

Vizio invited me to a private launch of the P-Series and P-Series quantum in New York. I had extended one-on-one time with Vizio’s representatives and hands on with the various models in the product lineup. Vizio had an amazing demo that I’ll document here that shows how increasing the number of FALD zones helps eliminate blooming and improve black level. In the images below, Vizio had every TV in their lineup so that you could see the FALD zones directly. Vizio then displayed a number of images synchronized to every TV so I could compare the differences between their entry level TVs all the way up to the Quantum. I took a series of photos that I’ve included below to show how important it is to have an LED display with a high number of FALD zones.

 

Vizio M-Series FALD

Vizio’s entry level TVs such as the M-Series feature 40 full array local dimming zones.

FALD Vizio D Series

You can see that even with dozens of zones, rendering something as simple as the pause image or a bright fireworks display lights up the panel far beyond the image itself.

 

P-Series FALD

Notice how the P-Series has less blooming and can turn off more of the FALD zones.

FALD Vizio P Series

The P-Series has 100 FALD zones, which makes a huge difference in the panel’s ability to limit blooming and render bright images against a black background.

 Vizio Quantum FALD

The Quantum had superior image brightness and better black levels

FALD Vizio PQ65-F1

The difference between the Quantum’s 192 FALD zones and 2000 nits peak brightness when compared to Vizio’s other displays was a night and day difference in black level, brightness, and overall picture quality.

As you can see here, the 192 FALD zones allows the panel to illuminate the areas around the image being displayed against a black background.

Similarities between the P-Series and Quantum

While the Quantum’s performance is quite different than the P-Series, they share strong similarities in virtually every other regard. The P-Series has a high value proposition.

Both feature Vizio’s VM50 processing engine and V8 octacore processor. Both support today’s major HDR standards: Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG HDR. Note that HDR10+, which adds dynamic metadata in a similar manner to Dolby Vision, is not supported.

Cosmetically speaking, they both sport a bezel-less design. The P-Series has a silver bottom frame while the Quantum takes the design up a notch and completely loses any visible frame along the bottom.  Both TVs have four HDMI 2.0 inputs on the back, with one HDMI 1.4 input, one set of component inputs, a USB port, and a set of stereo RCA inputs. Audio output options include HDMI ARC (audio return channel) on HDMI 1, Toslink optical, and stereo RCA outputs. For networking, you have your choice of on-board 802.11ac Wi-Fi or Ethernet.

I strongly recommend that every enthusiast use Ethernet connections to their audio gear for the fastest and most stable connection. Furthermore, I recommend that you assign all your audio gear with a static IP address. My Quantum review unit seemed to have a defective Ethernet board that would lose its connection every 5-10 seconds. I therefore needed to use Wi-Fi for this review (which wasn’t my preference).

It’s a TV and Entertainment Hub

Cord cutters rejoice! With a record number of people turning to Over-the-Air (OTA) antennas and streaming services, Vizio is delivering a television that can act as a serious hub for your entertainment needs.

All Vizio’s models come with an ATSC 1.0 tuner. (read about the emerging ATSC 3.0 standard).  Vizio has integrated the ATSC tuner as part of the Android TV interface for a simply brilliant direction towards a unified content interface.

Vizio Quantum inputs

Both the P-Series and Quantum have inputs on the side and bottom.

Vizio’s SmartCast Adds Entertainment and Value

Both TVs come with Vizio’s excellent SmartCast platform. Vizio’s SmartCast is based on Chromecast Ultra, which offers access to thousands of apps. Many consumers think that Chromecast is just streaming content from a smart device. That’s not the case.

Here’s how it works: Your smart device serves as a control center for selecting and controlling content. Once you press the “cast” button, the URL for the content goes to the Chromecast player in the TV. The Vizio TV the pulls the content from the online source (i.e. Netflix, HBO Go, or ESPN) directly. And, it does so just as if those apps were built into the TV. Vizio includes the top apps on screen for easy access (as well as on quick buttons on the remote). A representative for Vizio told me that Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and YouTube TV represent 80% of the OTT (over-the-top) content that users are watching. Other apps are used by approximately 5% or less of viewers.

What I truly appreciated about Vizio’s SmartCast was its ability to aggregate content across different streaming services (including my OTA broadcasts from my rooftop TV antenna!).  You get an AppleTV or Roku-like experience without a streaming box.  Moreover, Vizio’s SmartCast is now integrated with PlutoTV for live TV and movies.  

What Vizio has done with SmartCast deserves a nod. The platform has been integrated across their product lineup—including their sound bars—for centralized control and content consumption. I can’t stress strongly enough what a differentiator Vizio’s slick implementation of SmartCast makes vs. the competition. If you start to build a Vizio-based ecosystem, you have central control and management of all your content and all your devices (literally) in the palm of your hand.

As good as it is, SmartCast isn’t without its occasional bugs and hiccups. And when it comes to streaming platforms, I still find the AppleTV platform to be the smoothest and most refined experience out there.

Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit and AirPlay2

Both Amazon Alex and Google Assistant are supported and you’ll need an external Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant speaker to accept voice commands. There’s no built-in microphone on the Vizio to spy on you. I didn’t test the smart assistant features extensively. Both work as advertised. However what’s important to highlight here is that Google Assistant shines. If, for example, you ask Alexa the weather, you’ll get a very basic display and response on the Vizio. With Google Assistant, however, ask the same question and you get a truly beautiful, graphical overlay of the weather on the Vizio. Alexa looks like antiquated tech next to Google Assistant’s slick integration.

Vizio HomeKit and Airplay2 support

Vizio has announced Apple HomeKit and AirPlay2 support. Both are available now as a beta which you can install on the P-Series and Quantum TVs.

Apple HomeKit and Airplay2 support will be coming soon as a free upgrade and are available right now as a beta. I revisited this portion of the review after installing and testing the HomeKit and AirPlay2 support. You can install the beta from the Smartcast app. You’ll need to enter into Apple’s beta testing program to make it work. The Quantum generates a QR code on screen that the Home app scans and immediately added to my available devices. I could turn the TV on or off and switch inputs from within the home app. With the Beta, I could not get the Quantum to synchronize with HomeKit compatable home automation apps. I assume this will be addressed in the final release.

An Average Remote Control

The remote control is identical between the P-Series and Quantum. The remote is the one area where the Quantum doesn’t live up to its high-end billing. The remote is plastic, has an average feel, and lacks any backlighting that you’ll find with higher end displays. On the plus side of things, the remote has lots of short cuts to built-in apps that make navigation quick and easy. While I’m sure Vizio wants you to use your smart device and Smartcast for navigating around the display, I’d like to see Vizio address the remote control with a completely revamped one with better build quality, illuminated buttons, and support for either Bluetooth or RF so you don’t need line of sight to operate.

Vizio Quantum Remote

The included IR remote is simply average. It has a lightweight, plastic body and lacks backlight and learning capabilities you find with other high end TVs.