Vizio 65” E Series E65u-D3 4K UHD TV Review

Solid performance at a hard to beat price. 4 Stars

With the 65” model currently on sale for $899, Vizio’s E series TV’s represent their value play – a TV that while affordable tries not to compromise too much on picture quality. In this case, Vizio has stripped down the built-in apps and smart TV features in most E, and all M and P series models and instead enabled the TV to natively work with Google’s Chromecast platform, while adding app based management and control under the moniker Vizio SmartCast.

The release of the 2016 E series shows that Vizio is doubling down on the belief that the TV of the future will be controlled by an app on your smart phone or tablet rather than a physical remote. In the case of this TV, you can download Vizio’s SmartCast app which after a brief pairing process will allow the E series TV to be both configured and operated, including many of the settings we are used to adjusting in on-screen menus.

It’s very positive to see that this cost-conscious TV is backlit and not edge-lit, featuring 12 LED zones, as many edge-lit TV’s suffer from extremely poor contrast and the industry at large seems to have more or less given up on contrast since plasma’s untimely death.

Design & Features

The E series is above all a TV and not a decorative item, so Vizio has not gone to great lengths to use exotic materials like competitors, and instead have focused on a thin bezel, and have attempted to keep thickness down given the backlit display. They have more or less succeeded, with the E65u-D3 measuring a mere 2.8” deep and weighing in at 50 lbs.

From a user-interface perspective, as stated earlier Vizio has moved away from the on screen display, only offering the most basic of settings (input, preset picture mode) and a pairing menu to allow more full-featured control via the SmartCast app.  As you can see below, pairing is a very intuitive process:

The TV displays this screen when first powered on:vizio smart cast pairing screen

 

  

As you can see, the app walks you through the simple pairing process, and you are done in less than 5 minutes.

The design of the app shows some careful thought and consideration have gone into this new approach to TVs.  Asyou can see in the below image, the app enables full control of the TV, and in many ways allows for more efficient adjustment of the set.

Vizio SmartCast App Home Screen

Color & Calibration 7/10

My testing of the Vizio E65 was performed using a SpectraCal C6-HDR colorimeter, and SpectraCal’s CalMAN software.

As you can see, the initial performance in calibrated mode was not great, but after a few measurements and using my smart phone to adjust settings, I was able to get it dialed in quite nicely without much effort. This was not an exhaustive attempt to calibrate the display, but demonstrates it can be improved very substantially in a short amount of time.

Vizio E65u-D3 calibration results

Vizio’s move to the smartphone for control makes a lot of sense when it comes to calibration. I found the process significantly faster without using a remote to navigate multiple menus, and was happy to be able to access all settings from a single pane of glass.

On the not so great side, the color saturation of the Vizio E65u-D3 is a little lackluster compared to other panels, and will not compare favorably to that of Samsung’s TV’s or the latest OLED’s from LG, but it’s a solid performer for on-axis viewing. When viewed from the side (off axis), the performance of this display deteriorates significantly due to the vertical pixel layout, but it does great in installs that are above or below the viewer such as on a mantel – so please be careful with your use case and viewing position before considering this model.

CIE chart Vizio E65u-D3

Contrast & Local Dimming 5/10

The overall contrast levels of this TV are very good considering the price point, aided in no small part by the multi-zone local dimming backlight built in. On/off contrast was a comfortable 3356:1, though blacks do appear slightly gray in a darker viewing environment.  Black levels are uniform from edge to edge (unlike many edge-lit units), though this is slightly constrained by the E65’s narrow viewing angle.

Disappointingly, the local dimming performance of this set is lackluster at best. Typically, in a good sample, areas without highlights should dim while preserving full light output in the brightest areas. With this TV I consistently observed full-array dimming in test scenes that should only have had local dimming. It appears that Vizio’s algorithm for local dimming in this model is simply too aggressive, whivh has the additional consequence of resulting in some mild flickering in bright highlights.

Motion & Judder 5/10

The E65u-D3 starts to show the truth of the mantra “you get what you pay for” in fast motion scenes. My tests for pixel response time showed a fairly consistent value of 35-37ms, which may be too slow for some gamers. This doesn’t present too much of an issue with 24 or 30 fps content in TV and movies, but should be a factor for buyers who intent to use a gaming console.

3D

There is no 3D capability on this series of TV’s.

Resolution & Clarity 9.5/10

Both 1080p and 2160p (4K/UHD) content appear sharp and have excellent clarity on this display, with 4K earning a slight edge.

Closing Thoughts

While the Vizio E65u-D3 has some issues with off-axis viewing, local dimming and motion, in this review I found that overall image clarity, ease of use and calibration are all solid and more than make up for these shortcomings. Prospective buyers who tend to view off-axis (from far to the left or right) should steer clear of this model, but those who will have a TV up on a mantel or below on the floor should be very happy with the performance of this set.

Vizio’s SmartCast features and smartphone based controls are a tremendously useful feature and they offer a level of convenience and ease of use that most TVs will have in the near future. The integrated Chromecast capabilities make streaming your favorite music, movies or media a snap, and particularly for those who use an Android phone like myself, quickly becomes preferable to the use of a set top box.

Keeping in mind how little you are paying for a 65” display, I believe that the shortcomings of this display are more than made up for by the value proposition it offers.

Overall Score: 3.75/5

 

 

Calibration Via the SmartCast App:

Vizio SmartCast App Calibration  Vizio SmartCast App Calibration  Vizio SmartCast App Calibration  Vizio SmartCast App Calibration

 

 Detailed Settings for the Vizio E65u-D3:

11 Point White Balance

5%

  • R  0
  • G  0
  • B  0

10%

  • R  14
  • G  4
  • B  18

20%

  • R  15
  • G  -1
  • B  23

30%

  • R  38
  • G  16
  • B  13

40%

  • R  14
  • G  5
  • B  9

50%

  • R  16
  • G  1
  • B  13

60%

  • R  5
  • G  5
  • B  22

70%

  • R  0
  • G  0
  • B  1

80%

  • R  0
  • G  0
  • B  1

90%

  • R  0
  • G  0
  • B  0

100%

  • R  0
  • G  0
  • B  0

 

Color Tuner

Offset

  • R   0
  • G   0
  • B   -7

 

Gain

  • R   -29
  • G   0
  • B   -59

 

Published by

Dave Upton

administrator

20 Comments

  1. I think Vizio's biggest mistake for model year 2016 was to remove ATSC tuners from all of their UHD models. The company claims that most users don't use the built-in tuner on their current TV, and that may be true in most areas, but in many retirement communities (which many of my store's customers come from), most do not (or refuse to) have a cable box or DVR and DO use the built-in tuner. Hence, we see a lot of Vizio "Home Theater Displays" returned because they could not hook them up themselves.

  2. I just took delivery today on a M-Series 70 inch Vizio — model M70-D3. For me, the lack of a ATSC tuner wasn't a big deal, as our TV feed is via Comcast Xfinity service. The M-Series comes with an Android tablet remote, so you do not need to download the Vizio app to your phone or tablet. After tweaking the picture settings, I am really liking the picture quality so far. My previous set was an 8-year old Samsung 67-inch DLP which suddenly developed a dead pixel right in the middle of the screen.

    Unfortunately, I cannot really test 4K sources for now. I do own a Roku Premiere, which does 4K, but it is connected via my Pioneer Elite receiver, which will not pass a 4K signal (1080p is the max). However, 1080p sources (Blurays, Xfinity and the Roku) all look very good. I haven't tried a SD-DVD via my old Oppo DVD player yet (it upscales to 1080p, too). I may replace the receiver with something new at some point, but I'm in no hurry to do so.

  3. Soooo….   My cheap TV in the bedroom is starting to die and, as is tradition in my house, it is time to move the LR TV to the bedroom and get something newer. 😀  I am looking at the 70" Vizios and trying to decided if the M70 is worth $600 more than the E70. 

    Right now my only source for 4K is my nVidia Shield TV but that will change as I replace components (which may take some time considering my Denon AVR-X4000 is not the most capable at passing 4k).

    So based on this info and knowing my knowledge of 4K anything is limited, do you think the M70 is worth the extra $$$?  Is there another brand in this price range I should be looking at?

    Thanks.

  4. I believe the M series 70 comes with HDR10, which is not in the E series.

    I myself am looking to the Vizio 75 P-Series as my next big upgrade TV [emoji342] which includes HDR10 and DolbyVision. That is when UHD Blu-ray players start hitting the sweet spot pricing.

  5. The M Series supports Dolby Vision,  too.  I went with the M70-D3 over the E Series for that reason,  plus reviews I read comparing the two indicated the E Series would occasionally suffer from a motion trail with fast action.  I watch a lot of sports,  and did not want that issue.

  6. Thanks for the advice and the original review.  A shiny new M70-D3 will be delivered on Tuesday morning.  I 'almost' went with the 65" but decided I would miss those 5" and end up buying something again in a year or 2.  So I technically saved myself money. 😀

     

    I also picked up a Samsung UBD-K8500 UHD BD player and 3 movies.  Now I'm off to research to see if I need a new HDMI cable to hook all this cool stuff up (or if my current  supply will work).  :rock:

  7. I just spent an hour researching HDMI 2.0 and all the other buzzwords and I still have no frickin' clue if my Monoprice or Blue Jeans HDMI cables will work or not.   GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

    Buy something that has prem cert label.

    Length can be a concern, but the normal prem cert BJC and Monoprice cables work fine. I am not a fan of the rigid nature of these cable though and missed my active redmere cables (did not work well with UHD), until I stumbled upon these passive cables. I love these things.

    http://www.scpcat5e.com/hdmi-c-395/hdmi-cables-c-395_114/premium-certified-ultra-slim-c-395_114_408/?zenid=7af36931a9f9841a9776d354ff3e44cf

  8. Thanks Jason.  I just found that my TIVO BOLT shipped with an HDMI 2.0 cable.  I also have premium BJC and Monoprice but since it looks like only one HDMI port is 2.0, I have all I need (I think).

    So if I understand this correctly, I connect my UHD BD player to the 2.0 port with the correct cable.  I'll then connect the BD player to my Denon X4000 using any other cable.  And everything else will continue to pass thru the Denon as it does now.

    Again, if I understand this correctly, I can still get 4k video from my nVidia Shield and my Tivo Bolt as long as it does not require the new encryption.  I have no idea what I would watch in 4k from either – maybe NetFlix streaming but I rarely watch that.

  9. David,

    I also own the M70-D3.  HDMI ports 1-4 should all support 4K and HDR. HDMI port 1 supports this at 60Hz, while the others only support at 24Hz. Your UHD player should work on any of the first four ports.

    I do not have a UHD player yet, but just ordered a Roku Ultra player, as they are $10 off right now. It should be here tomorrow, and will replace the Roku Premiere I currently have (it will be demoted to the bedroom). Last week I ordered some new cables in anticipation of eventually getting a new 4K streaming device and  UHD player. I went with the Monoprice 10ft. certified premium high speed cables (need 10 feet to get from my equipment rack to the TV's ports).

    I am using HDMI 5 for the connection from my AVR to the display for all my 1080p sources. I am going to try the Roku on HDMI 4 first, as I have already calibrated that port for 1080p sources, so it should be a good starting point for the Roku. My AVR does not support 4K pass through, so I'll be using a digital optical connection from the Roku to the AVR for audio. The Vizio is supposed to support DD 5.1 pass through via its digital optical connection, but I'd rather keep the audio path as simple as possible. I do have the Vizio's digital optical connection hooked up to my AVR to use the casting feature of the Vizio, but I have only played with casting briefly. Amazon video is not supported on the Vizio, so I just briefly tried one of the UV titles in my Vudu library to make sure everything worked. Almost all my streaming is from either Amazon or NHL.tv,

  10. Thank you Scott,

    This gives me some ideas how to wire everything. I have 3 4k devices (UHD BD, Tivo, and Shield).  While my AVR does pass 4k through, it is not HDCP 2.2 compliant so much of what's available won't work.  I think I'll wire the TIVO directly to the TV as well and use optical for the sound.  The Shield is mainly for PLEX so I won't have any real 4k content there (and I'm not sure it even has an optical out).

    This is way to confusing.  And I thought I had this home theater thing down. 😆

    ETA – Now I'm learning that 2 of the first 3 UHD movies I purchased aren't even real 4k.  They are 2K up scaled to 4K.  Nice….

  11. As of today the E series now supports HDR10 via firmware upgrade.

    Thanks Sam.  I ended up buying an E43 for the bedroom in addition to the M70 for the living room.  I'll check for an update tonight.

    Thanks again for the advice.  I am waiting on my monoprice order to replace all the various HDMI cables and the brightly colored network cables.  It turns out it is much harder to hide them with legs of the TV so far apart.

  12. David Willow

    Thanks Sam. I ended up buying an E43 for the bedroom in addition to the M70 for the living room. I'll check for an update tonight.

    Thanks again for the advice. I am waiting on my monoprice order to replace all the various HDMI cables and the brightly colored network cables. It turns out it is much harder to hide them with legs of the TV so far apart.

    View attachment 36449

    David,

    The best part of that photo of your new display is the yellow towel just above the TV. I have one of those hanging on the wall in my den. 😉

    One tip you may find helpful with the M70. I saved a couple of my customized display calibration settings, labeling them "1080P" and "4K". I can then use the picture mode button, which I've assigned to one of the "soft" buttons on my Harmony remote, to switch between the calibration settings on a HDMI port where I watch both 1080p and 4K material. This saves me from having to use the Android tablet remote to change settings.

    Also, if you use a Harmony remote, I would recommend using the remote device definitions for the Vizio P-75 instead of the M-70. It works just fine with the M-70, but has additional discrete buttons not found on the M-70 remote definitions, such as the INFO button and the Picture Mode button mentioned above.

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  19. So Vizio is switching from smart cast to built in apps for their TVs. The current models will be upgraded (the firmware is in beta) soon and they are offering a free remote to current owners (while supplies last). Go to this page and enter your serial.

    https://support.vizio.com/s/remote?…d=43737&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_source=43737

    I was able to get 2 of them ordered (one for my M70 and one for an E43 I picked up for the bedroom).

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