VIZIO M-Series (M50-D1) 50″ 4K Ultra HD Television Review

I have owned a 60″ Vizio Smart TV for almost 4 years. I love it! It has a snazzy keyboard remote which I love because when I have to put in a username, password, or search field I can do it on a real keyboard rather than concentrate really hard and peck it out old school style. The TV has several streaming services and features built-in to allow me to stream content from almost anywhere. I love it! And I think it’s the bee’s knees. However, in the past 4 years technology has changed quite a bit!

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I just received a new 50″ Vizio M50-D14K Ultra HD TV with SmartCast for review. This awesome television has Google Cast built-in. If you are familiar with Google Chromecast, then just imagine that this TV has one built-in. It’s the technology that lets you cast (send) videos from your smartphone, tablet, or PC to your television. Since I was in the middle of moving, it took a while for me to be able to really test this baby out. But, I was so excited when it arrived that I took it out of the box and just leaned it up again the piano! I set up the remote and tested Netflix. It then got stored away for a while.

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Now this TV truly is full of the latest tech. They one upped my keyboard remote that I love so much and equipped this TV with an innovative 6″ Android tablet remote. It includes a charging dock which can sit right on your entertainment stand.

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Since I didn’t want to downsize to a 50″ TV from my 60″ VIZIO TV I decided to use this one in my master bedroom. However, it’s permanent location may change. When we finally move into our new home I think it will take a permanent place in the 2nd floor family room.

Specifications

  • Class Size: 50″
  • Screen Size (Diag.): 49.50”
  • Panel Type: VA
  • Smart Platform: VIZIO SmartCast™ w/ Google Cast™ Built-in
  • High Dynamic Range: Yes w/ Dolby Vision
  • Resolution: Ultra HD – 3840×2160
  • UHD Upscale Engine: Spatial Scaling Engine™
  • Display Processor: V8 Octa-Core Processor
  • Backlight Type: Full-Array LED
  • Local Dimming: Yes with Active LED Zones® x32
  • Clear Action™: 360
  • UHD Codec Support: HEVC (H.265), VP9

Tablet Remote

  • Screen Size: 6” Android Tablet Remote
  • Resolution: 720p
  • Storage Memory: 1.5GB of DRAM and 8gb Storage
  • Processor: Quad-Core
  • Audio: Dual Stereo Speakers
  • Microphone: Yes
  • Accessories: Wireless Charging Dock, USB Power Cable

The Setup

Setup was easy. As with other flat screen TVs, we had to install the legs. However, the legs are made for foolproof installation. Unlike other TVs they cannot be installed the wrong way, which was awesome!

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Pairing the tablet remote was fascinating. During the setup process it will tell you when to hold the remote up to the bottom right-hand corner of the TV. It then quickly pairs the remote using Bluetooth. The remote is then used to set up the name, WiFi network, and more on the television. More on the remote later.

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When setting up your TV and remote for the first time I recommend setting up a new, generic household Google account for use on this and other home gadgets. Otherwise, you will have your Gmail, calendar, and contacts, etc. all loaded up on this remote. Of course if you live alone this may not be a problem, but I don’t want my kids accidentally deleting my emails while playing with the tablet remote!

 

Design

The design of the TV is pretty slick. The previously mentioned legs are shiny chrome and add to the modern look of the TV. Each one is mounted a few inches from the edge. For stability, I like this better than the middle mount on some TVs. However, I do miss being able to swivel the screen.

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At just about a 1/2″ the bezel is pretty thin and does not make you feel like you are watching a huge box. It does not take away from the picture at all.

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This TV weighs just about 41 lbs. It is so much lighter than flat panels past! I remember the first flat panel that I ever purchased. I swear it was heavier than an old tube TV! But this one I can just about move around by myself which is great. This also makes it much easier to mount it on a wall if you choose to do so. Just make sure that you choose the right type of mount. You will need a 200×200 wall mount.



 

Picture Quality

The resolution is 4K Ultra HD – 3840×2160 which means you get a lot of detail on the screen. The picture quality is outstanding. Everything is clear and bright. The colors are amazing. I did notice that the picture is not so great when viewing from the side. At that time is appears to be a bit washed out.

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What is 4K Ultra HD? Ultra HD delivers 4 x 1080p Full HD. And VIZIO’s UHD upscaling transforms everything into 4K UHD resolution. The picture will vary. Some content is just not truly going to be full HD.

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The VIZIO M-Series includes High Dynamic Range technology from Dolby Vision. This gives colors more depth and more contrast. To enhance this even more it uses a Full Array LED backlight with up to 64 Active LED Zones that automatically adjust light levels depending on the content being played.

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It also makes an awesome computer monitor. Because of where the TV is situated in our temp living situation, my husband has it hooked up to his desktop computer. And I must say, Windows 10 has never looked so good!

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Audio Quality

When I first started testing the SmartCast TV I thought that the sound was not that great. It sounded very hollow. However, I decided to poke into the settings using my tablet remote. The Audio menu includes a variety of things that can be adjusted such as turning the speakers off or on, turning the volume control display off or on, turning surround sound off or on, changing the balance, the digital audio out, the analog audio out, and the volume leveling. The volume leveling did the trick. When I turned that on the sound got a nice boost.

Of course if you are looking for more the included outputs let you hook the TV up to a soundbar or receiver. This can be accomplished using either analog digital out or digital audio out (SPDIF).

 

Inputs & Features

I can recall when my flat panel (the heavy one) had only 1 HDMI port. If you wanted to hook up anything else you had to use component, S-video, or coaxial. Most things have switched over to HDMI which is now the standard, so TVs now include more ports. The M50-D1 has 4 HDMI ports, one of which supports HDMI 2.0. Because of the range of inputs that the TV offers, you can connect up to 5 devices via the 4 HDMI ports and one component connection.

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In addition to the HDMI ports and component hookup, it also includes one Ethernet port, and 2 USB ports. And of course it includes built-in WiFi which is part of what makes it a smart TV.

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The 6″ Tablet Remote

The 6″ Tablet Remote is what really makes this television different from the rest. In addition to being a remote for your SmartCast TV, it is also a 6″ Android tablet computer. To control your TV, it comes preloaded with the Vizio SmartCast app. Instead of using the regular remote to change features of the TV you can use the Android remote. You use the tablet remote to change the input, change the volume, adjust the settings of your SmartCast TV such as audio and video settings, and set the sleep timer. And since it’s an Android tablet with a full QWERTY keyboard it is super easy to enter usernames and passwords when setting up your streaming apps. This is always a frustration! Using the tablet is much easier than using arrows to select letters and numbers. And you can install other media apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video. You can also install just about any other app from the Google Play store.

The VIZIO Smartcast app is also used to cast content from your tablet remote direct to your VIZIO television. It allows you to find live TV content using your cable provider. This gives you an easy way to see TV shows and movies that are on without scrolling through the Guide on your cable box. You can also add favorite channels and get a quick glance of what’s on each one all on one screen.

One thing that I would like to see if the ability to add more streaming services of choice to this app. It appears that it shows content from preselected services including VUDU, Google Play Movies, PlutoTV, Redbull, Vadio, Hulu, and Crackle. You can turn these off and on as you please. However, I would love to be able to add Netflix and Amazon Video to this list.

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So far I am absolutely loving this TV. Other than the washed out view from the side, there were only 2 other drawbacks that I have found so far. One is that I had to install the Google Chromecast app on the tablet remote to cast from Amazon Video. But, I’m certain that this is a limitation of the Amazon Video app and not the VIZIO TV. The other is that in the middle of watching one day that TV turned itself off. I could not turn it back on. I thought that it was toast. However, after about 15 minutes it came with an updating firmware message. While automatic updates are great, a warning would have been nice.

I received the 50″ version of the VIZIO M-Series television. However, it is also available in 55″, 60″, 65″, 70″, and even 80″ versions. Drool! Prices vary from only $699.99 for the 50″ to $3999.99 for the 80″ version. Right now, if you purchase a VIZIO SmartCast HDTV you will receive a complimentary copy of of Star Trek Beyond on Digital UHD courtesy of VUDU (while supplies last). Check out all of the sizes and options available at Best Buy or Amazon.com.

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Disclosure: The 50″ VIZIO SmartCast TV was provided to me in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.