Review: VIZIO’s Chromecast-enabled M-Series 4K TV is a living room star under $700

Over the last month or so, I’ve been pairing my new Xbox One X with VIZIO’s 2017 M-Series 4K Ultra HDTV. Specifically the 55-inch M55-E0 model that boasts integrated Chromecast features and HDR10 support.

Priced at $700, but available for around $500 during Black Friday, I was intrigued to see how VIZIO’s mid-range lineup pairs with the latest gaming technology. We already know this brand has long been a consumer favorite blending solid features and affordability. But with the market saturated with so many 4K options this holiday season, I needed to know if this model could standout from the noise.

Note: VIZIO provided this M-Series review unit at no-cost to 9to5Toys. This review is our opinion only and is not sponsored content.

Out of the box |

Setting up a new TV sure has come a long way since the original flatscreen HD models came out a decade ago. VIZIO has it down to a science with minimal packaging and a step-by-step software-driven experience that has you connected in minutes. The integrated SmartCast features on the M55-E0 brings a few extra steps for connecting with your home network. VIZIO’s software guides you through, asking questions about preferred services and how to name inputs so the experience is tailored to your own use.

The 55-inch model only requires a few steps on the hardware side. After attaching the surprisingly attractive metal legs, you’ll need to plug in power and content sources, be it HDMI or other. As you’d hope, VIZIO has clearly labeled the inputs on the backside and I was up-and-running in about 20 minutes from opening the box.

Features and Specs |

VIZIO’s M-Series features its proprietary XLED backlighting system and Xtreme Black Engine Plus. While we’re getting an LED panel here, VIZIO is essentially aiming to recreate a pricier OLED experience with local dimming and inky-blacks. At a fraction of the cost of an LG OLED, there are some benefits and drawbacks worth considering, which I’ll address momentarily.

Where the M-Series shines is its feature set that includes HDR10, Dolby Vision, and integrated Chromecast streaming. The first two are critical for a 2017 cutting-edge gaming experience, be it with Xbox One X or another system. After plugging in Microsoft’s latest console, I was delighted to see that VIZIO’s M-Series offers full support for Forza and others at native 4K resolutions.

The addition of Chromecast features is wonderful for users outside of Apple’s content ecosystem. After adding the M-series to my home, I started noticing ‘Cast’ prompts popping up on apps and devices. Whether it was YouTube, or NBA League Pass, I was enlightened on just how many sources can leverage Google’s streaming platform.

Another welcome spec is the inclusion of four HDMI inputs here. With many homes now sporting multiple gaming consoles, a streaming media player and other sources, the days of two or even three HDMI inputs just won’t cut it. Kudos here to VIZIO for looking out.

Display |

Like headphones, the reality is that everyone’s TV preferences are different. Some folks love the high contrast and dark blacks that come with an OLED panel. Others desire rapid refresh rates that make sports or gaming look smooth no matter the situation. I fall somewhere in between.

I’ve become accustomed to the over-saturated colors of an OLED panel but the poor refresh rates are a point of frustration for me. On the flipside, I’m not keen on gaming on a standalone monitor. For me, VIZIO’s M-Series is a perfect fit, both for consuming content and gaming.

At under $700, the panel isn’t perfect, but from a value perspective it’s a home run. VIZIO’s XLED Plus and Xtreme Black Engine are largely marketing terms that provide software-boosted alterations to an image. It’s just tough to recreate an OLED experience at this price point and that’s why LG’s own panels cost $1,500+.

That said, the value here on VIZIO’s M-Series is through the roof. The refresh rate is solid, HDR10 functionality is a must-have for gamers, and the display is largely uniform with few issues thanks to localized dimming.

Conclusion |

For those looking to go beyond the budget-focused doorbusters that we saw last week, the VIZIO M-Series is certainly worth your time and money. It’s easy to recommend for a den or bedroom, for gamers and streamers alike. It’s not going to be a home theater darling, but TVs few are at this price point. What you do get is a solid list of features, Chromecast functionality, and a very attractive design that is perfect for someone looking to spend under $1,000.

The VIZIO M-Series is available for purchase at $700 from most retailers, such as B&H.

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