Just seven months after cracking the $1000 barrier, Vizio's 4K TV sets are getting even cheaper.
Vizio's new M-Series 4K (or Ultra HD) televisions start at $600 for a 43-inch model, and scale up to $4000 for an 80-inch model. Spending $1000--the same price that Vizio charged for a 50-inch 4K TV last fall--will now get you a 55-inch screen instead.
In terms of tech specs, the new M-Series models aren't a huge step down from the P-Series 4K TVs that Vizio launched last fall. The main differences are more local dimming zones, higher "Clear Action" rates, higher dynamic contrast ratio, and more powerful speakers on the P-Series, though the M-Series consumes far less power. Vizio typically takes features from its luxury sets and trickles them down to the mid-range M-Series and low-cost E-Series over time.
While Ultra HD content can still be tricky to find, Vizio's built-in apps for Netflix and Amazon will support the higher-resolution standard, as both services have been racing to add 4K videos over the last year. There's also an app for UltraFlix, which provides 4K movie rentals, and one for the kids' service Toon Googles.
The TVs all come with dual-band wireless 802.11ac, which should help if your Internet service provider supplies enough bandwidth and you've made the jump to an 802.11ac router. (Netflix recommends a steady 25 Mbps connection.) Vizio is supporting HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 as well. Both standards will be necessary as 4K support starts showing up in cable and satellite receivers, Blu-ray players, and game consoles. If all else fails, the Vizio TVs will do their best to upscale 720p and 1080p content.
The new sets should be available soon through retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart, and on Vizio's website.
Why this matters: To be clear, even the cheapest 4K televisions still cost hundreds of dollars more than your average 1080p set, and the price difference scales up dramatically as screen size increases. But there's symbolism in Vizio moving its entire mid-range line to the higher-resolution standard. The company is essentially saying that UltraHD is the mainstream option, included by default for all but the most budget-conscious. Even if you can't see the difference in picture quality, that just means you'll do extremely well price-wise by sticking to 1080p.