My father is an executive for a fairly well-known clothing brand, and inside their offices they have a saying that goes something like this: sometimes in order to win you needn’t be the first, just the first to follow. While that may not sound very sexy, since we tend to romanticize the trailblazers and not the first runners-up, it nevertheless makes a great deal of sense--especially when it comes to consumer products. Vizio has arguably changed the very face of consumer electronics, specifically as it pertains to displays, not by being first, but often by following. Waiting has its advantages. For one thing, you get to see what your competition is up to, and second, you’re (often) able to take advantage of lower costs due to manufacturing becoming less expensive with time. At the end of the day, does the consumer care that you weren’t technically first? Not at all. Which brings me to Vizio’s latest and arguably greatest display to date: the new P-Series Quantum, a clear shot across the bow of both OLED and Quantum Dot displays everywhere.
Looking for an overview of the best TVs on the market right now? Check out HomeTheaterReview’s 4K/Ultra HD TV Buyer’s Guide.
Coming in a one-size-fits-all package of 65-inches diagonally and retailing for an MSRP of $2,099.99 (though sale prices plunge it far below that), the PQ65-F1 is now the brand’s flagship product. The P-Series Quantum, as its name suggests, is an LED-backlit LCD display that uses a quantum dot layer--technology not unlike the Q Line of displays from Samsung. Quantum dots allow the P-Series Quantum to obtain OLED-like contrast and color, while preserving the light output users have come to more readily associate with traditional LED-backlit LCD displays. And the PQ65-F1 is bright. With 192 local dimming zones, it is Vizio’s brightest and most composed (in terms of light and light control) display to date. More on this later.
From the outside, the P-Series Quantum is a Vizio product through and through, a sort of cross between the company’s existing P-Series and now generation-old M-Series. The P-Series Quantum measures nearly 57 inches across by almost 33 inches tall and just under three inches deep. It tips the scales at a hearty but not back-breaking 54 pounds.
From the front it features a nearly bezel-less appearance not wholly unlike some of Sony’s or LG’s current crop of OLED displays, while along the side the TV sports a sort of perforated silver metal look. It’s not ugly, but not quite to the level of OLED displays we’ve seen in that minimalist-chic aesthetic. It’s way better looking than the plastic fantastic Samsung Q9FN.
Like Sony and LG’s OLED displays, the PQ65-F1 is not all one depth as you turn your attention around back. It bulges at the bottom, meaning it’s thicker near the base than at the top of the panel. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s worth noting if for no other reason than it will impact how you mount the P-Series Quantum to your wall.
Like all Vizio displays I’ve encountered (and I’ve reviewed more than a few), the P-Series Quantum has more than enough input and output options--even a few legacy ones you don’t see very often these days. There are five HDMI ports--two along the side and three at the bottom--along with component and composite video (remember them?), an Ethernet port, a USB port, as well as a cable TV/antenna input.
Outputs consist of a pair of analog audio outs, an optical audio out, and ARC (via HDMI). There are wireless connection options too. The P-Series Quantum features WiFi (802.11ac Dual Band), allowing you to cast, stream, or what have you until your heart’s content. There is no native voice control of the PQ65-F1, unless you add the display to your existing Google Home or Amazon Alexa ecosystem, in which case you can speak to those devices in order to somewhat control the Vizio. For you cord cutters out there, the TV is chockful of streaming options and services built-in.
The PQ65-F1 has a native resolution of 3,840 by 2,160, which makes it an Ultra HD display. It is HDR capable, with support for Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG (hybrid log gamma). UHD scaling of non-UHD sources is handled by a V8 Octa-Core Processor and Vizio’s Spatial Scaling Engine. As I mentioned earlier, the P-Series Quantum utilizes 192 LED local dimming zones, the most for any mass-market Vizio display to date, and 20 more than the regular P-Series. It has a maximum reported light output of 2,000 Nits, which is somewhat insane, but nevertheless that’s Vizio’s claim. 2,000 Nits is more than enough light output to display, well, anything and will likely be curbed quite a bit through calibration. Still, not many displays on the market today can claim peak brightness of 2,000 Nits--at least none that I know of costing around $2,000.00 retail.
As for the remote, just get this over with. The remote is ehh. It’s serviceable, I guess. Functional, I suppose. It’s also completely forgettable. It’s the same remote you get with any other Vizio TV, which is to say that there’s nothing remotely special about it. Definitely nothing that makes you believe you’re in control of a brand’s flagship product. If you have multiple Vizio displays in your home (like I do) it will work on all of them, so maybe that’s a plus?
I took delivery of the P-Series Quantum a few weeks after the Samsung Q9FN left my home, and it replaced my now aging 7000 Series Samsung LED-backlit LCD. Unboxing and mounting the PQ65-F1 is a job for two people, but since I was flying solo on the day of its arrival I threw caution to the wind and installed it myself. Thankfully the P-Series Quantum is more robust than an OLED and nowhere near as cumbersome as Samsung’s Quantum Dot display, so I was able to manage, but I advise against doing so yourself. Because the PQ’s mounting points rest low on its backside, it ended up sitting a little higher up on my wall than I like. If I ended up keeping the display, I would definitely reposition my Sanus wall mount lower, so that the TV could sit a little closer to the top of my equipment cabinet.
I used a single HDMI cable between the P-Series Quantum’s ARC-equipped HDMI equipped input and my Marantz receiver‘s HDMI monitor output. I utilize CEC to allow for the display’s remote to automatically control everything, which in the case of the PQ65-F1 worked flawlessly. Though since my source component of choice was my Roku Ultra, it was the Roku Ultra remote that ultimately served as the primary selection and volume controlling tool--not the included Vizio remote.
Once everything was connected, I fired up the display and waited. No seriously, I did, for as anyone who’s ever had a Vizio will tell you, they take a hot second to turn on. The whole process from power on to picture takes 28 seconds. Going into the menu and switching the display’s Eco Mode to Standard improves start up time to 14 seconds. With everything powered up and ready to go, I got out my laptop and light meter and fired up my CalMAN software from SpectraCal and went to work.
As mentioned above, Vizio claims that the P-Series Quantum is capable of 2,000 Nits of light output. While 2,000 Nits is a lot of light--more light than you (likely) will ever need or want to see--I did want to see if this claim was true. So, I selected the PQ65-F1’s Vivid picture profile straight away and in its out-of-the-box configuration measured a staggering 1,827 Nits. Not quite the 2,000 Nits Vizio advertises, so I juiced the backlighting to 100 percent and remeasured, giving me 2,100 Nits!
The P-Series Quantum ships with its Standard picture profile engaged, which is bright at 456 Nits, but far more manageable. Sadly, the Standard picture profile is nowhere near accurate in terms of its grayscale or color rendition. Switching to the Vizio’s Calibrated profile yields only slightly better results while curbing light output even more to 418 Nits. In other words, there is no out-of-the-box picture profile that is close to even approaching calibrated, meaning a professional calibration is required in order to extract that last bit of performance from the display.
Starting with the Calibrated preset, I began to take measurements and make adjustments. Vizio has come a long way in their implementation of calibration and picture controls over the years, and the P-Series Quantum appears to be the culmination of all that time, for its higher picture controls and CMS are brilliant. However, the color controls do seem to be impacted quite heavily by which other advanced picture options you have turned on or selected. For example, enabling or disabling the P-Series Quantum’s Xtreme Black Engine Pro has a profound effect on two things: the display’s ability to achieve near-OLED black levels, but it also affects its white balance. Normally, I would tell anyone to simply turn off all superfluous picture enhancements such as these, but as it stands with the PQ65-F1, these picture enhancements actually do contribute to the overall quality of the display and its performance.
Thankfully, turning the Xtreme Black Engine Pro to its Low setting (High is far too noticeable in real world viewing) is enough of a kick for the dynamic zone-based backlighting to plunge blacks to near-zero while giving brightness a boost, and it’s a good starting point for calibration. Once I was able to work out that little caveat, along with settling on a proper backlighting setting, the rest of the calibration went rather smoothly.
While the P-Series Quantum’s out-of-the-box performance was all over the place, after calibration it was able to be brought into line. It wasn’t as accurate as either of my experiences with Sony’s recent displays, but it was well within the margin of error (Delta Es all below three) to be considered perfect. It managed better overall measurements than Samsung’s flagship Q9FN, which I wasn’t expecting.
One final note about the P-Series Quantum’s Xtreme Black Engine Pro and subsequent backlighting settings: both go a long way to curbing any and all LED light spill you may encounter out of the box with respect to high contrast content seen on screen. Yes, there is noticeable backlighting blooming in areas of extreme contrast (take the startup Vizio logo for example), but it can be eradicated through calibration and proper implementation of the display’s backlight setting and dynamic contrast controls.
The reference standard for rendering absolute black is OLED, since it can do just that: render pure black. The next best that I’ve tested is Samsung’s Q9FN, with its absolute black rendering coming in at .03 Nits. The P-Series Quantum matched the Samsung at .03 Nits whilst maintaining slightly better brightness overall at 339 versus 274 Nits. It is possible for the PQ65-F1’s absolute black level to match OLED and hit zero Nits when you set its Xtreme Black Engine Pro setting to High, however the dynamic dimming/brightening of the backlighting zones is very noticeable, which is why I don’t recommend this setting.
Satisfied by my calibration results, it was time to dig in to the P-Series Quantum’s performance.
I began my testing with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Universal), which I picked up on Vudu in UHD (Dolby Vision/HDR10) as well as HDX (1080p). Starting with the P-Series Quantum’s UHD performance, I was pleased to see that the Vizio, unlike other models, didn’t switch me into a different picture profile than the one I selected and calibrated. A lot of TVs, when sensing HDR content, switch you to a brighter picture profile because HDR content needs it. The PQ didn’t do that, or I should say, it didn’t monkey with my calibration, instead it simply juiced the backlighting and brightness in order to fulfill the needs HDR places upon any display. I will admit, I’m still on the fence about HDR content. Yes, it’s nice, and yes it can look utterly brilliant, but in the latter half of Fallen Kingdom, which takes place in a basement, at night, with virtually no light, HDR sort of robs the image of a lot of its life, life that is present and able to be observed much more clearly when viewing the film in a non-HDR format.
This isn’t a knock against the Vizio, but rather HDR. The brighter scenes via the P-Series Quantum looked positively brilliant in HDR, some of the best I’ve ever witnessed. The colors were natural in their portrayal, with nary a bias towards any end of the spectrum (i.e. blue, green, or red). There was a real richness and dimension to the image--one that was on par with, if not quite equal to, what I had experienced with OLED.
I will admit there were times when watching the Samsung Quantum Dot display where I felt that I wasn’t watching a film--which is organic and flawed--but rather a video game cutscene that, while brilliant, never quite cut the mustard in terms of making me believe I was watching something real. The Vizio PQ65-F1 doesn’t fall into this camp. Rather, it inches closer to bridging the delta between OLED and LED/LCD rather than creating a visual experience that is all its own, as does the Samsung. As with OLED, the P-Series Quantum’s image had a true sense of space that bordered on three-dimensional, in that there was, again, this roundness to the edges of objects and people. It wasn’t artificial sharpness either, but rather a clearer delineation of micro contrast throughout that just made the whole image pop, but without relying on artificial enhancements.
Switching to the HDX rendition of the film, I got to see just how good the P-Series Quantum’s HD-to-Ultra HD scaling is, and I have to say, from start to finish I actually preferred Fallen Kingdom’s non-HDR image upscaled to Ultra HD over the native thing. The image was just so chockful of goodness, and without the light suck that is HDR, contrast and texture in the darker scenes towards the end looked just fantastic. Moreover, despite being one fourth the resolution, none of the film’s closeups suffered any loss of detail or nuance--even upsampled. Moreover, the colors didn’t shift from one version to the next, nor did the sense of dimensionality. Edge fidelity lessened just a bit, in that edges weren’t quite as clean, but it was hardly noticeable and in fact something I went looking for as evidence of scaling. In truth, had I walked into the room to find Fallen Kingdom already playing I likely would’ve had a hard time throughout the film telling the HD from the UHD via the P-Series Quantum.
Moving on, I cued up Spielberg’s latest, Ready Player One (Universal), also on Vudu. The first thing that struck me was just how good the P-Series Quantum was at helping to better delineate the two worlds in the film from one another. I know Spielberg employed two different camera systems in the film to further enhance the difference between the virtual and real worlds, and it was nice to see that the PQ65-F1 didn’t try and alter either format--either by not being resolute enough with the film stock or too smooth with the digital. Everything, every detail, every nuance just felt right. While the film definitely has a color pallet all its own, at no point did it feel out of place or improperly rendered via the P-Series Quantum.
Even more so with this film, the P-Series Quantum’s rendering of black, both in terms of how it enhanced color contrast as well as contrast in general, was just a thing of absolute beauty. I actually muttered, out loud, by myself, a few wows and holy cows over just how refined and rich the P-Series Quantum’s black levels were. Motion was also appropriately smooth and free of any artifacts or little nasties--even during pans across many of the film’s wide shots of The Stacks.
I ended my evaluation of the P-Series Quantum with Spider-Man: Homecoming (Sony) in UHD. Without sounding too repetitive, the colors were just amazing, far more natural and fuller during much of the film as compared to Ready Player One. Skin tones were especially pleasant, possessing the right amount of warmth and pinkness (albeit after calibration) all the while retaining the natural texture and nuance down to the baby hairs adorning many of the adolescent actors’ faces.
The P-Series Quantum’s ability to resolve fine detail is nothing short of astonishing and something few displays manage--Ultra HD or not. One downside to all this resolution, brightness, and contrast is that scenes filmed on green screens--of which Homecoming has many--stand out more and look all the more artificial. This isn’t Vizio’s fault, nor is it their problem to solve, but as filmmakers rely more and more on digital techniques, it is becoming harder and harder to mask their inclusion and hide the seams from today’s crop of ultra-high-performance displays. Believe it or not, calibration does help with this, for out of the box, green screen effects are more apparent since the image favors brightness over accuracy, which flattens everything and makes it feel more cut out. Post calibration, these issues were curbed quite a bit, but nevertheless they were still present and noticeable. Again, this is not a fault with the P-Series Quantum, but rather something we’ll all either have to get used to or hope that Hollywood fixes as they move forward.
In truth it didn’t much matter what I chose to watch, be it casually or intently, the P-Series Quantum simply shined. I especially enjoyed watching the opening weekend of NFL football, as even broadcast colors and detail scaled to Ultra HD resolution from an HD feed looked positively brilliant. Quick pans down the field were not without their compression artifacts, but motion on a whole was smooth and clean.
News broadcasts were equally impressive, and for an avid viewer of several news programs, I did like not having to worry about potential burn-in when leaving the P-Series Quantum on and tuned to CNBC or CNN for long periods of time. That to me is the mark of a truly great display: one that can be examined critically and hold its own while at the same time be enjoyable for casual viewing of content that may be less than reference-grade. Thankfully the PQ65-F1 is an Ultra HD display for every occasion.
There are a few caveats I must call out, though. First, for its class-leading image quality and flagship status, I find it somewhat disheartening to see it still using Vizio’s now aging internal OS and menu structure. Yes, the menus are functional. Yes, it all technically works. But if you’re trying to distinguish the PQ65-F1 as something more than just another Vizio, I’m sorry--it just doesn’t feel special enough. I had the same complaints with respect to the Samsung Q9FN, in that for a flagship product nothing about the user experience--apart from the picture quality--feels all that special.
The menus, as well as the built-in apps, are all a bit slow. Never mind that it can take up to 30 seconds for the P-Series Quantum to even power all the way on (half that if you disable any eco-friendly controls), but the apps themselves seem sluggish to respond. They’re not quite Sony/Android TV bad, but they’re not that far off. Moreover, the built-in WiFi and Chromecast capabilities seem prone to dropping signal, whereas a dedicated Chromecast plugged into the back of the TV didn’t suffer such issues. I recommend a hardwired Ethernet connection to the P-Series Quantum for those wanting to stream using the preloaded apps. Also, not having voice control built-in is an oversight in 2018.
While the P-Series Quantum does possess all the necessary controls and features internally for the display to be properly calibrated, its picture is far more reactive to settings outside of its higher calibration controls than some other sets I’ve reviewed recently. This means its calibration can be a little more trial and error, or a bit more of a balancing act, compared to other displays I’ve reviewed. This is a display that does require calibration to look its best, as all of its out-of-the-box picture modes are not even remotely close to accurate.
I really wish that Vizio would offer the P-Series Quantum in sizes other than just 65 inches. I don’t think the PQ65-F1 needs to be smaller, but rather larger, for it’s a display that, if Vizio could manage it, could own the 75-inch-plus market. I know I’d love to see an 80- or 85-inch model built on or around this same platform.
Competition and Comparisons
There’s no beating around the bush here: the display the P-Series Quantum is gunning for is Samsung’s best Quantum Dot offering(s). I actually do believe the PQ65-F1 compares favorably with the likes of Samsung’s Q9FN, which retails for $1,200 more. One thing that the Q9FN has over the Vizio is that it can be had in sizes greater than 65 inches, which is no small thing when we’re talking about wanting or needing a big, bright, beautiful display.
LG’s SK9500 Series is another 65-inch display at $2,299 that competes with the P-Series Quantum directly. While not as bright as the Vizio, the SK9500 and SK9000 have the unique distinction of being, more or less, calibrated in their Technicolor Expert picture profile straight out of the box. And I think the LGs look more stylish than either the Vizio or the Samsung.
And then there is the choice to skip Quantum Dots altogether and go with OLED, of which there is no substitute in my opinion--though you are going to do without some light output. Still, if pure inky blacks and organic-looking contrast is your bag, nothing does it better than OLED, of which you have two varieties: Sony or LG. Pick either one for they’re both brilliant, if not the same.
For a little over $2,000 retail, and generally a lot less than that on store shelves, the Vizio PQ65-F1 is nothing short of astonishing. While Vizio may not have been first on the block with their Quantum Dot display, they’ve clearly been paying attention and have managed to make a TV that does an awful lot right, at a price point many will find hard to say no to. While the P-Series Quantum does face some stiff competition, especially from the likes of Samsung, overall I found it to be the more complete and comprehensive display. No, it doesn’t have true OLED-like black levels, nor is it as refined in its backlighting control as the Samsung Q9FN. But in real world viewing these two caveats don’t come close to being a deal breaker for me.
Yes, the PQ65-F1 does require some pretty significant calibration to look its best, and yes that will add to the display’s overall cost, but it’s well worth it. Vizio continues to shine and the PQ65-F1 is the company’s latest crowning achievement, one that is definitely worth your consideration and a display that other manufacturers should keep a close eye on. For while Vizio may not have been first to market with Quantum Dots, the P-Series Quantum proves they may be the first to get it right.
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