Vizio M-Series Quantum 4K UHD TV review: Same accurate color, now with upgraded ports

Though the changes have been relatively minor, this latest M-Series sports eARC for better surround output as well as Freesync and variable refresh rate support.

vizio m series 2021 head on
Vizio

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At a Glance

It didn’t take long to confirm what I suspected during my Vizio V5-Series review—the slightly more expensive M-Series Quantum offers a far better picture. It’s not perfect perfect by any means, but the color is more accurate, and the screen uniformity far outstrips that of the V-Series.

If you’re shopping mid-range Vizio, the M-Series Quantum is what you want. Skip a couple of lunches to save up the extra cash.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart TVs, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

Design and features

The M-Series, including the 55-inch class model M55Q6 that I tested, are 60Hz, 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD), 10-bit TVs. They offer array backlighting, but no zone dimming until you hit the MQ7 models (then you get up to 32 zones). Quantum dots are employed for accurate color, and there’s enough peak brightness to breathe life into HDR titles.

The M-Series aren’t the lightest TVs out there, but they do range towards that end of the spectrum. I had no difficulty wrangling the unit out of the box and it was easy to hold in place upside down while I screwed in the two legs. If you’re reasonably able, you’ll have no problem setting it up solo. At 29.39 pounds, it’s also light enough for wall-mounting even without hitting a stud (if you’re careful and use the right hardware). My unit sported a 300mm x 200mm VESA mount point.

The M55Q6 offers a modest, but more than adequate selection of ports, including analog audio and component/composite video. There are three HDMI 2.1 ports with eARC supported on HDMI 1 (older models offered only the slower ARC), as well as FreeSync and variable refresh rate. Optical S/PDIF, coax (for antenna or cable), and ethernet are also onboard. Wi-Fi is 802.11n, and there’s Bluetooth 5.0 support.

2022 v656 j09 m65q6 j09 back io Vizio

Vizio supports legacy component and analog audio along with newer types. That’s a boon for those still rocking older outboard equipment.

Other features include voice-activated remote control and smart-home connectivity via Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant. This TV understands all the major flavors of HDR, including HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and HLG. 

The MQ6-series is available in 43- ($400) through 75-inch ($1,000) models. The 55-inch model reviewed here was $580 at the time of this writing. The MQ7-series is available in 70- ($1,200) and 75-inch ($1,400) versions. Those offer slightly more accurate color and higher brightness in addition to local dimming zones. FreeSync Premium (supporting low-latency standard dynamic range) is also a MQ7-series perquisite, although they are still only 60Hz TVs.

Interface and remote

Vizio’s SmartCast user interface is a major strength of Vizio’s TVs. It does an excellent job of organizing and delivering all types of content. Indeed, it’s also the only interface I’m aware of that folds all of said content into the channel guide—a feature normally reserved for OTA (over-the-air) and curated content. Speaking of which, Vizio, like other vendors, provides a lot of free material for viewing. 

vizio m series 2021 smartcast Vizio

Vizio’s SmartCast interface is the company’s outstanding asset. It makes it extremely easy to adjust settingsand access all types of media. SmartCast also synergizes with the remote as well or better than any other TV OS.

The minimalist (forgetting the advertising shortcut buttons) remote control marries very well with SmartCast. Nearly all settings are a mere two clicks away, and the rocker/enter button handily doubles as transport controls during playback. It’s very well thought out and along with Roku, the tandem I find most efficient. Like Roky’s better remotes, there’s an onboard mic for voice recognition.

vizio m series 2021 remote Vizio

Vizio’s minimalist voice remote interfaces extremely well with the SmartCast operating system, making the company’s TVs among the easiest and quickest to use. 

If you’re looking for ease of use and easily searchable content, then Vizio should be at the top of your list. My only caveat is that it’s difficult to get through the setup process, let alone use the TV, without an internet connection. Don’t skip the connection setup, and don’t buy one if you want a standalone unit for OTA TV.

Note that there’s a companion SmartCast app for phones. I’ve always found it laggy, but it’s certainly handy if you lose the remote. Phone-centric users might even prefer it. Download it and give it a try.

Performance

I had a massive case of deja vu when I looked at this most recent M-Series. If the picture has changed at all from the 2019 iteration, I couldn’t spot it. What that means in more granular terms is that the color is great, there’s an adequate amount of brightness for showing off HDR content, and the image processing is… meh.

vizio m series 2021 angled Vizio

Vizio’s M-Series deliver a decent picture with nice color, but not nearly this nice. This is an artist’s rendering.

Where the M-Series has trouble is with motion compensation, and for some reason, over-saturated reds in HDR. In the case of the former, Vizio simply doesn’t implement it, and in the case of the latter, it’s likely a matter of processing horsepower. In our Rio video with a giant gold and red dragon in a parade, the gold and red tended to merge into an rather ugly mélange. It was better than the V-Series, but it’s something Vizio should work on. 

Shimmer and moiré are noticeable, too, but not overwhelmingly so; and in general, most material and movies are shown to good advantage on the M-Series. It’s not a great image, but it’s nice for the price.

Testing the DLNA/mass-media playback app revealed one Vizio foible I’d forgotten. It doesn’t read exFAT media, only NTFS. Beyond that, Vizio has vastly improved the app over the last couple of years. The interface is still primitive (i.e., DOS-like), but it played all my test video with nary a hiccup. That’s something Sony’s A90J failed to do in long-term testing.

Having just reviewed the Vizio V5-Series, I can unequivocally recommend that you buy the M-Series instead. Not only is the color much better, but the screen uniformity is vastly superior. Where the V-Series had clouding issues and very narrow off-axis viewing angles, the M-Series had almost no clouding and a decently wide optimal viewing angle.  

Conclusion

If you’re looking Vizio, skip the V-Series and go with the M-Series. The difference in picture quality is staggering and the M’s are priced only a little higher ($50 to $100). Beyond that, if you’re not interested in eARC (for uncompressed 7.1 surround) or FreeSync (for gaming), the picture is identical to the last iteration, which you might find deals on.

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At a Glance
  • With quantum dot color, the Vizio M-Series outstrips the only slightly cheaper V-Series by a large margin in picture quality. Though little changed since the last iteration, new is eARC and FreeSync is available on select models.

    Pros

    • Accurate quantum-dot color
    • Excellent SmartCast interface
    • Simple remote works well with the onscreen interface
    • eARC and FreeSync support

    Cons

    • Unexceptional video processing
    • No motion compensation
 
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