In the back half of 2018, Andrew Robinson took a deep dive into most of the flagship displays offered by most of the important TV manufacturers, from high-end LED-backlit LCD offerings to quantum dot displays to top-of-the-line OLEDs from Sony and LG alike. It's safe to say that these displays capture the most interest and enthusiasm amongst HomeTheaterReview.com readers, but the TV market is in a weird place these days. The performance delta between luxury displays and budget Costco offerings is diminishing, and quickly. As such, it's hard to scoff at UHD TVs coming in at hundreds instead of thousands of dollars.
Looking for an overview of the best TVs on the market right now? Check out HomeTheaterReview's 4K/Ultra HD TV Buyer's Guide.
Vizio's P-Series sits at an interesting juncture between those two extremes. It undoubtedly isn't Vizio's 2018 flagship--that would be the P-Series Quantum--but it is second from the top, and the highest-tier Vizio display offered in the attractive 75-inch size class. With a sticker price of $1,999.99 at that size (down from $2,299), and a street price that occasionally dips into the $1,499 range when a good sale strikes (as is likely to happen more frequently, given that the P75-F1 is nearing the end of its market lifecycle in the coming months), the P75-F1 is undoubtedly one of the most compelling mid-priced displays on shelves right now, at least on paper.
So, why are we reviewing it now, with new displays set to appear in the next four-to-six months? Partially happenstance. I received a review sample so I could put it through its paces from an integrator's perspective for another publication. But there's also the fact that many TV shoppers don't really conform to (or even know about) the yearly TV model release cycle, making the P75-F1 as viable today as it was last June. Perhaps even more so due to a steady decline in MSRP.
In terms of its styling, the P75-F1 is remarkably similar to the PQ65-F1 P-Series Quantum display that Andrew reviewed last year, so I won't dwell too much on its chassis, bezel, or connectivity. Nor its remote or SmartCast streaming platform.
It is worth noting, though, that setting up a 75-inch display is a wholly different experience from setting up a 65-incher. I've put together and positioned many of the latter on my own over the past few years, but getting the P75-F1 out of the box, affixing its tootsies, and getting it up on my credenza was a task that could only be accomplished with the help of my wife. Even the second time around.
Wait, what? Yeah. I've been through two review samples of the Vizio 2018 P-Series, the first of which was plagued by a defect that affected some unknown number of early production models, from which review samples were pulled. In short, the backlight structure of my first review sample (all 120 zones of it) was visible with some viewing material (mainly things like the final episode of Adventure Time, which relied on a number of flat, brightly colored backgrounds).
Fast horizontal pans were also accompanied by an effect sometimes referred to as "jail bars," in which it looked as if alternating vertical shadows were falling across the screen. There's no real way of knowing how many of these early samples suffered this malady (a friend of mine reviewing the TV for another publication had a review sample manufactured two weeks before my first one, and his exhibited no such problems). But Vizio was quick to replace it with a newer sample. So, if you're one of the unlucky few who got an early 2018 P-Series display with such backlight issues, you should contact the company or your point of purchase immediately.
At any rate, on the new review unit, none of the P75-F1's 120 zones of full array backlights are visible under any circumstances, and screen uniformity--while perhaps not achieving the last Nth degree of perfection--is a damn sight better than that of my three-year-old flagship Samsung (which came in at around $4,999 back in 2015). When you get right down to it, the P75-F1 bests that older Samsung in virtually every respect, save perhaps the refinement of its backlight controls, which we'll get to in a second. Colors are better. Contrasts are better. Overall brightness is unsurprisingly a crap-ton better.
Calibration of the P75-F1 is quite easy given the intuitive picture adjustment tools provided. My only beef here is that I wish there were a setting between Low and Off for the TV's Active Full Array (which, when I started taking my notes, was labeled "Xtreme Black Engine Pro." For HDR material, Medium was my preferred setting here. But for watching TV and streaming shows like Critical Role via the VRV app on my Roku Ultra, I found that even the Low setting when applied to SDR material resulted in some occasional dimming quirks, especially when navigating UIs, program guides, or shows (like the aforementioned Critical Role) with lots of text positioned on flat backgrounds. Still, setting the Active Full Array to Off resulted in an unacceptable brightening of blacks, so Low is where it stayed for SDR.
One other nice thing about the P75-F1 is that it doesn't monkey around with your settings when switching from SDR to HDR, except to pump the Active Full Array up. Adjust your settings in SDR, and they're where you left them when the TV receives an HDR signal, though you can tweak to taste.
In addition to HDR10, of course, the P75-F1 supports Dolby Vision as well as Hybrid Log Gamma. I had to scour YouTube to find viewing material in the latter format, but indeed, it works.
Let's dip deep into wholly subjective territory here for a minute, because that's really the only way to address the P75-F1's size. My wife and I have lived with 65-inch displays for some time now, which was fine for our seating distance (a little over six-and-a-half feet). The jump to 75 inches is a much more substantial one that I might have expected. Quite frankly, I can't imagine going any bigger, but this size class seems perfect for heightening the cinematic experience in my main media room.
After viewing the Blu-ray of Star Wars: Episode 7--The Force Awakens, my wife leaned over to me as the credits rolled and said, "F*** IMAX." After switching to the UHD Blu-ray release of The Last Jedi, her subjective review lengthened by one word: "F*** IMAX hard." Simply put, we've found no need to visit a commercial cinema since I installed the P75-F1, and I can't imagine we will again until Avengers: Endgame graces our local megaplex.
In addition to the scale, clarity, and vibrancy of the image, the Star Wars films really spotlighted the fact that, while the P75-F1 may not deliver dead-on-balls-accurate absolute blacks, with literally any amount of ambient light in the room I didn't feel my experience was sold short in the slightest because of this. This may be a result of the TV's great contrast, which gives it a wonderfully three-dimensional look with the right source material.
The one downside to the P75-F1's size is that it does shine a light on the display's rather substandard upscaling of 720p video. If not for the excellent upscaling capabilities of my Marantz AV8805 preamp, I would find Weather Underground on the Weather Channel all but unwatchable. (Alex Wilson, if you're reading this, you're still my number one celebrity crush at any resolution.) I'll be honest here: I've been ever-so-slightly dismissive of readers who drilled me about the video upscaling capabilities of receivers I've reviewed in the past. I feel your pain now. It's something I'll be focusing on more going forward.
One other thing that may or not may be an applicable concern for some of you is the P75-F1's aforementioned feet. On the one hand, the four diagonally radiating legs, splayed wide near the bottom corners of the display, give the TV a slightly more delicate look without compromising a bit in terms of stability. I'm not worried in the slightest about this big beast tipping over. What does concern me, though, is that the thin legs don't do the TV any favors in terms of cable management. So, unless you wall-mount the display, place a soundbar in front of it, or--in my case--get creative with some double-sided tape and Velcro, you're going to see the power, HDMI, and Ethernet cables dangling down underneath.
Competition and Comparisons
Probably the closest competitor to the P75-F1 in terms of size, price, and features is Samsung's UN75NU7100FXZA. I did my best to track down one of these for the sake of comparison and came up short.
The best I could do was a comparison between Samsung's 65-inch equivalent, the UN65NU7100FXZA, side-by-side with Vizio's 65-inch equivalent, the P65-F1. Samsung's smart TV platform definitely struck me as more refined and snappier (although, don't take my word for that: I kinda hate smart TVs), but the Vizio won out in every other respect, with vastly better screen uniformity, better vibrancy and contrast, better brightness, notably superior fluidity, and shockingly better color.
Sony's most popular offerings in this size class are the XBR75X850F and the XBR75X900F, but again, for the sake of comparison I had to rely on 65-inch floor models across the board. The X850F, while closer to the Vizio in price, lacks its Dolby Vision support, as well as its full array local dimming, and in head-to-head comparisons just couldn't match the vibrancy and pop of the P-Series. Its contrast was understandably nowhere near as good, its motion struck me as less fluid, and its screen uniformity wasn't even close.
The X900F, on the other hand--the 75-inch version of which retails for $1,000 more than the P75-F1 in this particular moment of time ($2,799.99 vs. $1,799.99)--had comparable contrast, but definitely took a slight edge in terms of screen uniformity, brightness, backlight control finesse, 720p-and-below upscaling, and its handling of light reflections on the bright retail showroom floor (though, admittedly, in my own home I've had zero complaints about the ambient light reflectivity of Vizio's semi-gloss screen. It's another aspect of the TV that's monumentally better than my old Samsung). Without the benefit of calibration, the X900F's color reproduction was a bit more accurate, though no more vibrant, and I also very much appreciated the cable-management channels built into the Sony's feet. From a control point of view, I like that Sony has IP drivers for Control4 (the Vizio requires the use of third-party IP drivers from annex4, which work great, but aren't free). The Sony's Android TV platform also struck me as more fully featured and easier to navigate--although on that last point, I admittedly couldn't care less.
Unless you're aiming straight for the top and buying one of Sony's MASTER Series OLEDs, or perhaps the LG OLED equivalent, buying a new TV these days involves some amount of value engineering. How much TV can you get for the price you're willing to spend? As I said in the introduction, these days the delta between bargain basement and flagship is flattening out, but there's still a sweet spot for most TV buyers.
If you're shopping for a TV in the 75-inch size class, the Vizio P75-F1 strikes me as a pretty massive sweet spot. The fact of the matter is that you can spend more and get a much less capable display, all things considered. And to ensure that you're getting a significantly better TV, you'll have to spend a lot more. If you're one of the unfortunate few who bought an early production sample of this TV, and it suffered from the backlighting issues detailed above, I can understand why you might be a little sour on the P-Series specifically and Vizio in general. But in my experience, this early snafu has been corrected, and the result is a TV that now quite frankly stomps flagship LED/LCD TVs from just a few years ago.
Of course, with Vizio's 2019 TV lineup quickly approaching, bringing quantum dot technology to more models, and upping the backlighting to a staggering 480 zones at the extreme, it's understandable that those in the know may go into wait-and-see mode for the next few months. There are a lot of unknowns about those new displays, though, including their price.
Right now, the Vizio P75-F1 is undeniably a hell of a good buy, a fact that will only become truer as its price reaches equilibrium.
• Visit the Vizio website for more product information.
• Check out our TV Reviews category page to read similar reviews.
• VIZIO PQ65-F1 P-Series Quantum 4K HDR Smart TV Reviewed at HomeTheaterReview.com.
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