10 Days With Vizio M Series

Cue the sad panda. I had high hopes for a new 65″ Vizio M Series. But, after 10 days, Best Buy has reclaimed it. The M Series was notable for providing a solid picture at a reasonable price. And, when the 65″ dropped to $1000 during promotional holiday pricing, we pulled the trigger. Beyond “bang for buck” in regards to size and pq, Vizio is one of the few manufacturers that passes 5.1 audio — which could be a major selling point for those with a Sonos Playbar or Vizio 5.1 solution of limited inputs and prefer to use the TV as an HDMI switch. It was for me.


But, within 24 hours, we knew we had a lip sync problem when passing bitstream, versus PCM, audio from TiVo Mini > HDTV > Soundbar. While Vizio does provide some correction options for audio/video synchronization, they were in the wrong direction. Further and maddeningly, the behavior was somewhat unpredictable in regards to which channels or programming would be hit and sometimes reboots of various elements could seemingly clear it while other times they would not. Also, during the course of troubleshooting Vizio audio settings, we’d periodically completely lose audio output until power cycling things. The only way to keep things trouble free, was to have TiVo output PCM… resulting in fake surround sound and somewhat defeating the purpose of this brand set. My issues were over optical, but apparently others have experienced similar using HDMI ARC.

Supposedly there are some audio sync fixes in the hopper via a firmware update (1.6) … that had been pulled due to newly introduced local dimming issues. We frequently take our own advice – buy a product for what it does now, versus what it might do later. So, given a January 15th return window deadline, we unloaded the set. (Similarly, we can’t currently recommend the 4k Vizio P series which has been promised a firmware update to correct aggressive sharpening.)

I’m pretty bummed, as overall we quite liked the set. Yeah, maybe it didn’t have the black levels or uniformity of the 50″ Panasonic plasma it was intended to replace and the corners seemed a bit dark, but I found the picture to be pretty darn satisfying for what we’d paid and appreciated the size bump. I also quite liked the menuing system and external styling. And, tho I may not be the biggest fan of the Yahoo TV widget platform, the Netflix and Amazon direct dial apps were very responsive (and passed 5.1 audio correctly). But it’s back to the drawing board in this post-plasma world.

35 thoughts on “10 Days With Vizio M Series”

  1. Another maddening thing with Vizio, which may or may not plague other manufacturers, is different size sets of the same line may have panels from differing sources and technologies (IPS, non-IPS) resulting in different characteristics (and reviews) or different processors which impacts performance. Both are true of the M Series line and we know the P Series uses multiple panels.

  2. I can’t imagine spending $1,000 on a television; at this point I can’t even imagine buying a television.

    I don’t watch enough TV off of my computer for it to be worthwhile.

  3. Yeah, we have a diverse readership. There are many here who would find $1000 insufficient for a “good” large television. I just hope I can get something satisfying but more economical than the incoming LG OLED sets that will surely land over $3k.

  4. Hi Dave,

    I’ve heard many people complain about the same lip-sync issues. I have the 70″ M-series (current model) and I love it. However, I am running everything through a Yamaha RX-A1020 AVR for which I have configured the appropriate lip-sync delays for the inputs coming in. I don’t use any of the “smart” features on the TV either. So, as a straight-up display, I am very happy for the picture quality vs. what I paid for it ($1,800 back in September or October). Even with firmware 1.60 I still like it. The local dimming issue don’t seem to awful on my set. But if I weren’t running everything through an AVR, I’d beware the purchase of this set.

    I also have a Samsung 60″ 7150 that I bought in September for a conference room. That is also nice set for the price. Just beware the panel manufacturer for the different sizes as you mentioned. You can find lots of info about this on other AV Forums.

  5. Lip-sync issues? Endless firmware updates?

    Teevees just keep getting smarter and smarter, don’t they? Thank god we no longer have to deal with those troublesome dumb panels. I eagerly anticipate other Things in our homes getting smarter and smarter. What could go wrong?


    “…and prefer to use the TV as an HDMI switch. It was for me.”

    It utterly boggles my mind that manufacturers don’t see audio passthrough as a mandatory feature. Seems as if many, many consumers would prefer to do things that way.

    “I also quite liked the menuing system … the Netflix and Amazon direct dial apps were very responsive”

    Rule #1 of Teevee Club: Never use the TV remote.

    Rule #2 of Teevee Club: Never use the TV remote.

    Rule #3 of Teevee Club: Initial setup – aka turning off Motion Blur – is the only exception to the first two rules. But you don’t need a good menuing system for that.

    “Cue the sad panda.”

    Exiled to the Island of Misfit Teevees Commune, for teevees whose UX simply makes no sense.

  6. Diverse is right.

    I do find some pleasure in all the struggles I read online of people trying to get sound bars to work with anything but the simplest setup (TV and one STB). Just buy an AVR already.

  7. Chucky, you bring up an interesting point. Hadn’t determined yet what would have been the primary remote in this scenario (TiVo, Vizio, or Harmony), but I was a little surprised there wasn’t a Vizio iPhone app for qwerty entry and to launch Netfix or Amazon. Having said that, the TV does include DIAL, so you could trigger the content to launch via Netflix or YouTube app faster than TiVo (and the remote did have a qwerty keyboard on the back). And, yeah, on every input I had to disable all those picture enhancements that don’t actually enhance. Well, other than the ambient light sensor which had three levels of brightness and surprised me (in a good way). But like the remote situation, I never even got around to really calibrating the picture.

    Ben, I’ve had AVRs but chosen a sleeker, slimmer setup with this go around and in this common room. Doubt I’d even find one that would fit into my minimalist stand. Think I’ll take a few weeks, or more, off while I percolate… and see what new stuff hits the market. Also, this round of frustration has me wondering if I just leave the 50″ plasma in place and revisit the idea of a projector (in the basement) as I once ran for big screen movies and sports.

  8. “I do find some pleasure in all the struggles I read online of people trying to get sound bars to work with anything but the simplest setup (TV and one STB). Just buy an AVR already.”

    Well, an AVR is certainly an option, but how ’bout folks with multi-room setups? Or how ’bout folks just looking to save some money? Or just folks looking for simplicity, not just regarding the mere existence of an AVR, but also considering that they have complexity issues of their own going way beyond their mere existence?

    Audio passthrough really should be considered a mandatory feature by teevee manufacturers. I mean, they keep pushing stuff like 3-D and OS’s that their customers really don’t want, but audio passthrough is something many, many of their customers really do want…

    (And wipe that punching-down schadenfreude grin off your face, Ben.)

  9. “Hadn’t determined yet what would have been the primary remote in this scenario (TiVo, Vizio, or Harmony)”

    Rule #1 of Teevee Club: Always use the TiVo remote as your primary.

    Etc, etc…

    “Having said that, the TV does include DIAL, so you could trigger the content to launch via Netflix or YouTube app faster than TiVo “

    After the OnePass rollout, in actual, practical terms, it’ll be far, far quicker to launch Netflix and Amazon via the TiVo remote, since the content will be staring right at you to begin with. (Exceptions will be the OTT service watchlists and lean-back discovery.)

  10. All the more reason I need 5.1 working from TiVo, versus Vizio or Fire TV… ;) If we can really bookmark an entire season and track episodes of whatever Netflix or Amazon series directly within TiVo, it will be pretty huge. It may still be slow to launch, but like you said the practical, effective speed will be much faster than flipping inputs and UIs. Wonder if TiVo has any more tentpole apps in the works like WatchESPN or Showtime Anytime. It really could become the “one box” they promoted way back when the Premiere was launched.

  11. “Wonder if TiVo has any more tentpole apps in the works like WatchESPN or Showtime Anytime.”

    Problem is that authenticated OTT service on a specific device requires MSO approval. And I think it’ll be a cold day in hell before the MSO’s help out TiVo.

    As noted in the OnePass thread, the more interesting question is whether or not TiVo will link to those services in the OnePass enabled TiVo mobile app (that launches at the same time), where the MSO’s obviously can’t prevent them from doing so. Downside is the (not insignificant) confusion of your OnePass list looking different on mobile vs On the TiVo. Upside is obvious.

    “It really could become the “one box” they promoted way back when the Premiere was launched.”

    As noted in the OnePass thread, my takeaway conclusion is that OnePass = actual fruition of The One Box…

  12. I also bought a M series during the holiday deal season. I ended up with a 60″ for around $850 from Amazon. Got 60″ because of where my TV fits and I figure it will be 2-4 years before an OLED 4K with rec20/20 will be available. I’m upgrading from a vizio gallevia (which I think Dave’s Mom has).

    How I have it set up? [comcast via] TIVO => Xbox One => Denon Receiver => TV.

    One thing I LOVE LOVE LOVE on this TV is once I got the HDMI CEC controll working, my TIVO power button turns off the TV & the Reciever. When leaving the house, going to bed, this is just great. One button. I can’t turn on the Reciever this way but I think that is due to my old Denon (2112ci).

    What have I found, I have not been able to get HDMI ARC to work. BUT, I don’t use any of the Vizio apps. I find the XBox to work best for casting & blue-ray and I hope for TIVO OneCast to make things different someday. I just took advantage of the TIVO Romeo 10+ year customer deal and have been setting up the TIVO for the last day (so don’t know about that streaming) but my old Tivo premiere just didn’t cut it for streaming. I have also found the Vizio remote to have some lag issues. Like it has to ‘connect’ to the tv once I start using it. It REALLY drives me crazy the Vizio QWERTY remote doesn’t connect to my Xbox or Tivo. Seems like that would be a huge ‘value add’.

    Re: picture quality, I find after some tweaking everything works great. I don’t see a lip sync issue. (but not using ARC) I find with the TIVO inputs I get some Direct Lit ‘strobe – ing’ and I think this is TIVO’s fault. I suspect the TIVO sends a black frame or black fade-in image and that causes some popping of lighting in TIVO menus. I find the gaming lag, as opposed to my old vizio gallevia to be quite bad in any picture quality mode other than ‘game’. So when I sit down for a gaming session I have to remember to pull out the VIZIO remote, wake it up, and change picture settings. I haven’t found any IR command that a universal remote can remember to just switch between picture modes.

    A note on settings: I used the David Katzmaier (@dkatzmaier) published settings off of CNET. They work, little dark for my taste but I trust him. I use the “dark calibrated” as my basis setting, then adjust down (and switch to “Game” for XB1 games). I suspect that what a LOT of people forget to realize about internet TV reviews is that they all are calibrating their sets before review. I think that is an error on journalist reviews. Most of us are NOT going to spend $100 to get a TV calibrated. I really with all TV reviews would start with a baseline non calibrated review because if something is only good if it requires special work, it isn’t good.

    I really like the TV and would encourage others to get one if needed. I see more errors in picture quality that even the Wife Acceptance Factor has reached 100%. She keeps saying “everyone looks so old”. You really see the errors in picture quality and that isn’t Vizio’s fault. On Charlie Rose I now see all sorts of errors in video quality on the right of his frame. On Fox News Sunday (which I have on right now as I write this) I see massive strobe-ing of the white florescent lights in the background.

  13. My new 60 inch vizio is worthless. screen all messed up. I knew i shouldn’t of bought a crap vizio. Sticking to my Samsung’s. Please save your money.

  14. Evan, are you passing 5.1 from TiVo to Xbox One and into Denon? I futzed with the Xbox One settings when they were in beta, didn’t have great luck… Haven’t tried again since that feature first came out.

  15. Ed, how much of the great “Vizio” picture quality is due to the very high end processing chip in your Yamah that retailed for MORE than the Vizio TV? I doubt that Dave is going to see the economics of investing in a $1500 (full retail value of your AVR) AVR to solve the problems that are the Vizio TV products’ nightmare such as a simple lip-synch issue that the $1500 AVR can correct pretty well and better than the TV. I know that is NOT your suggestion :). My point is that I am rather sad that Vizio seems to not have improved from its own past. I think this brings us to the point that the quality or durability of an HDTV is just as important a purchase as the $1,500 AVR that is puzzled to find itself connected to a Vizio TV. And to those I know who had a well-working Vizio all the way until days or months AFTER the warranty expired, they view Vizio in a far different way than we they first bought a Vizio.

    Vizio is (or possibly worse than) the RCA of the 21st century. I really WANT Vizio HDTV’s to be the equal of more expensive brands, but for much less money, but I’ve found that to be a total fantasy.

    Dave, I completely understand your choice to try the M Series Vizio. Just don’t tell me you’ve got a $1000-$3000 AVR to go along with it :). Dave, thanks for experimenting for the rest of us. A shame the M Series didn’t shine.

  16. I thought I’d also add that Vizio TV’s were piled up as RETURNS at TWO different Costco locations. I has asked a nearby employee near the Vizio’s for RETURN at each location, and while, at first, reluctant to say anything, they each confirmed, in a whisper, that Vizios were by far the MOST returned TV brand ANY at their Costcos. Although I just love some of the design like the keyboard remote, I’ve found Vizio not only to have inferior PQ (although a $1,500 AVR with Qdeo high end chip like Ed’s can help) and to have poor visibility. But yes, I too, am seduced by those Vizio prices. I won’t even get one for a tertiary room. I would rather get a cheap or lowest model of a better brand because I would prefer not to have to replace a lightly used TV in just a few years that resided in a tertiary room.

    Here’s hoping Vizio’s do get better. It would be great.

  17. Man, that sucks dude. Shelling out top dollar for state of the art electronics like this should mean that they work more often than not…!

  18. Harry, yeah I’ve always had a psychological problem with components costing more than the television or display device they feed. One reason why I didn’t have more TiVos, earlier. My peek theater expenditures were 2001 – 2005, when I had a projector in the mix. So I guess it’s a bit odd ten years later, with better finances, I’m not willing to spend nearly as much. Maybe too many competing priorities (technological and otherwise) or more responsible choices for both my income level and current level of interest along with presumed display improvements across the board. I think my 50″ Panasonic ST50 plasma ran about $1300 in 2012 which was a good deal. I expect I’d have been quite satisfied with another mid-range plasma if they still existed (and in retrospect should have gotten the 60″ back then). But they don’t and I’m not sure how much difference there is in mid-range LCDs. Seems like at this point, I need to go high-end to equal mid. Again, making me wonder if I maybe make a better/different sacrifice in quality for size and go with a projector for the basement.

    My mother-in-law’s husband has a custom installer and they just moved – not sure if they went from one AVR to zero, or one-to-three in their new setup (with three new wall-mounted Samsungs and a Sunbrite on the terrace). Need to scope it out. Although I’m way more impressed by and interested in the guy who did a series of builtins on different floors – they are amazing. Related to both the installer and those builtins my 7 year old nephew pointed out that the Xbox One Kinect inside the cabinet does no one any good. ;)

  19. I also gave the Vizio M series (60″) the old college try. I had 2 big problems with the set. First, to my eye, motion performance was horrible. I dont know how it actually measures, and turning on the frame interpolation or backlight scanning had unacceptable drawbacks. The second, and most frustrating problem was that I had a weird, consistent artifact where the picture would stutter and look like slow motion for a moment. This was after turning off all the motion stuff and trying the film detection setting both on and off (it was maybe something with 3:2 pulldown or film detection, etc, but NO setting on or off fixed it). This stutter would happen at least 4-5 times an hour. BOTH M series sets I tried did it. It is not the source, since it NEVER happened on the old DLP it was replacing, Furthermore, I gave up on the Vizio and went with a Samsung 6350 and never see any stuttering. The CNET review mentions “video processing” as a weakness in the M series, but I am not sure exactly what that means, maybe they saw some of the stutter? Ultimately it seems Vizio’s video processing is just not on par with Samsung and probably other big names. It was really disappointing because I love what Vizio is doing with full-array backlighting, but I will take a more stable picture and better processed video over a little more contrast. C’mon Vizio!

  20. Must say that the TV set looks good who would believe that there are so many headaches, spending $1000 is too much for those headaches. I usually use my large screen TV set for streaming movies from my PC to the TV and not for actually watching TV. Those issues you highlighted are real deal breakers Dave.

  21. I think everyone on here is really not being fair to Vizio tv’s for picture quality. I have never seen a professional review see the issues you all are seeing. I love mine and just like any tv, turn off the motion settings that produce soap opera effect.

  22. The gift that keeps on giving… ;) Refund was supposed to be credited after a week, so my wife called in today to see what’s up. Best Buy had no record that their own (outsourced?) people had picked up it. Wife was on the phone over an hour and a half to get it sorted, with the final call running 63 minutes. Fortunately, she had the pickup receipt and the warehouse was able to confirm for Best Buy phone rep that it had been received. Unfun. Who has time for this. Amazon and Costco ftw?

  23. Ben, a lot of us have more than one device. I have a TiVo, an Apple TV (because TiVo sucks for getting content stored on my network), and an Amazon Fire Stick (or whatever device I’m currently testing for work). And I want better sound than I get from my TV. But what I do not want or need is a ton of speakers and wires and to run wires to the corners of room and all the other headaches caused by an AVR. I also don’t need a huge space heater under my TV. Those things are never small and always run really hot. So, no, it’s not too much to ask to want a soundbar and TV to be able to work together with multiple devices. Consumer Electronics companies, however are a bit Aspergers though when it comes to figuring out how people actually want to use their stuff.

  24. I had the 65″ M Series, and I had the same lip synch issues. Everything was a little bit off, and sometimes shows were very far out of synch. Switching from 5.1 sources to PCM helped but didn’t entirely fix it. Pausing my cable box for a moment sometimes got it into synch — but not always. I sent the TV back.

  25. As a follow up, Vizio’s PR rep reached out shortly after publication and wondered if the TiVo was to blame and wished I’d pinged him prior to posting. I most frequently operate as a “civilian” and minimize my interactions with the marketing groups these days (vs project folks and execs who I feel free to engage with)… and therefore had a short return window to work with by handling this as a typical consumer. I found TiVo as the culprit highly unlikely, given a variety of connectivity tests and months or years or other configurations that have been fine. Yet I ran yet another last night. TiVo Mini via HDMI into Xbox One with video out to TV via HDMI and audio out to Vizio 5.1 soundbar via Optical. This is a fairly close equivalent with the Xbox One acting as the HDMI switch I was using the Vizio M Series as. And I had no audio sync issues via Xbox. (The Xbox sure does a great job of hiding this pass thru feature in the settings.)

  26. “As a follow up, Vizio’s PR rep reached out shortly after publication and wondered if the TiVo was to blame and wished I’d pinged him prior to posting. I most frequently operate as a “civilian” and minimize my interactions with the marketing groups these days”

    Too bad. Vizio separately manufactures a very small number of “premium reserve” sets that handle audio passthrough perfectly. However, those sets only go to Vizio executives, folks with extraordinarily high Klout scores, and reviewers who complain.

    If you’d followed up, they’d have overnighted you one of the “premium reserve” sets…

  27. Good to hear you now have +/- my same setup Dave. Could you do me a favor? Record an episode of Charlie Rose and on his specific black background, do you see a small line of static? 1-2 pixels. I think it is his feed but it might be my TV/Xbox/TiVo.

    On a side note, seems there is a lot of vitriol here about vizio… it seems odd. Almost like there are a group of people slamming the brand. Weird….

  28. Vizio also has a history of having problems playing “nice” with all peripherals. I should clarify that my “research” including Costco and a few people I know, returned Vizios in high numbers because the consumer could not get at least one (or more) of their peripherals to either be “seen” by the Vizio or playback properly. They were pretty sad they could not take advantage of the low price of the Vizio in their situation.

    Evan, Vizio is an economic brand, and one should certainly not expect it to perform like a Sony or Samsung. However, if a company is going to stake out the “low price” “economical” piece of the consumer pie, we are willing to accept inferior color accuracy or limited pallette, poor contrast, very few adjustments for the Power User in us all, lacking in features, only a few inputs, etc., and just overall a noticeably inferior PQ compared to those HDTV’s costing $500 or $1000 more, BUT it is NOT unreasonable for such a low cost product to at least NOT have lip synch issues or reported “lines” on screen and reported “stutters” watching what has up until then been a reliable source of playback, and also expect the HDTV to display MAJOR brand peripherals like Blu-ray players instead of not displaying them properly or at all. Such expectations are not “odd” when evaluating any brand of HDTV. I think you miss the point that Dave, yours truly, and just about everyone else WANTS the Vizio to AT LEAST be a reliable display for our content, especially for the price. We’re not asking the low priced Vizo to produce a PQ that will blow us away, but function adequately without technical issues. But what good things are they to say if one’s low cost HDTV can’t even just provide us a stable picture, no matter how inferior the PQ.

  29. Vizio isnt a bargain brand anymore. They bought market position a long time ago but today the low price is certainly run by the Chinese Seiki, TCL and Hisense brands. Your assertions are just wrong.

  30. Dave, This is a great writeup and complete validation of the issue I have been struggling with on my M652i-B2. I purchased the TV new from Costco in early November and after a firmware upgrade to 1.6, the TV’s “active dimming” or as you note, “local dimming”, started having significant issues best described as sluggish. Turning it off fixed that issue and I really didn’t mind doing without, but it would turn itself back on any time you cycled the power on the TV or switched input sources.

    VIzio support was great and arranged for a motherboard swop which happened a few weeks later. That fixed the dimming issue and the TV never updated again to v1.6 but I am pretty sure that is when my lip-sync issues started. Called Vizo again in early February and they swapped the TV with a new unit which occurred later in the month.

    I found that the issue only occurs when using external HDMI sources. I too have a Sonos Playbar connected via digital optical. The issue does not occur when streaming internally on the TV using either Netflix or Amazon. It is an issue with my Blue-ray, Apple TV and Cable box.

    At this point, my 90 day window with Costco has elapsed by they have agreed to a return since the TV has been swapped twice. So the TV goes back tomorrow. I am mostly frustrated because I plan on replacing my Vizio with a 2014 Sony W950B. I expect great things from it but at an additional $1000 for a 65″ screen. I am happy with the image quality of my Vizio but I do notice flaws around movement. I hope the Sony will blow it away.

    Side note, I am fairly convinced that no Samsung will pass 5.1 out the optical. Look at their product line, they don’t sell a single soundbar that supports anything other than stereo. CNET had an article / list about a year ago that showed which TVs supported passing 5.1 over the digital optical and it didn’t include Samsung. Those that did included Vizio, Sony and Toshiba (or might have been LG).

    I briefly considered going with a Marantz NR1403 and some low end but well reviewed Pioneer BS22-LR speakers which would allow for external switching but I am not sure I can replicate the experience with my Sonos and I would need to complete some fairly complicated cable runs. In the end, I love my Sonos so why come up with bandaid solutions for what is clearly a Vizio issue?


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