Vizio continues to up its game with a new firmware update that bestows HDR streaming capabilities to the 2017 E-Series of LED-FALD LCD TVs. The latest E-Series can already accept and display HDR10 content from external devices such as UHD Blu-ray players. This firmware update adds that capability to casting from streaming apps like Netflix, Vudu, and FandangoNOW on models with screen sizes of 55″ and larger. The apps reside on your iOS or Android device, which must also have the Vizio SmartCast app to make the whole thing work.
The update also gives users the ability to display and adjust various user settings—including the picture controls—in an on-screen sidebar. Previously, those settings were available only in the SmartCast app on an iOS or Android device. They still are, but now you have a choice. The on-screen sidebar can be called up using the supplied remote, a universal IR remote, or an older Vizio remote with a Menu button.
All Vizio LCD TVs use LED-based FALD (full-array local-dimming) backlighting, which is one reason I like them very much; I strongly prefer FALD over edgelighting. However, the E-Series has only 16 local-dimming zones, which is pretty paltry. In general, with more zones, the TV can reduce haloing artifacts that occur when a small bright object appears on a dark background. Even so, the E-Series avoids the problems of poor uniformity and flashlighting that many edgelit sets exhibit.
Unlike the step-up M- and P-Series, the E-Series does not implement Dolby Vision high dynamic range in addition to HDR10. Also, the E-series does not provide wide color gamut (WCG) performance, which is available on the M- and P-Series.
“We’re happy to give E-Series big screen owners the additional benefits of High Dynamic Range picture quality, made possible through our award-winning full-array backlight technology with local dimming to give viewers the inky black levels they love,” said Matt McRae, Chief Technology Officer of Vizio. “The addition of on-screen menu access to picture settings also provides added value to SmartCast users, enabling convenient control from the new included remote on our 2017 E-Series models.”
To get HDR streaming and on-screen user controls if you already have a 2017 E-Series, all you need to do is connect it to the Internet. The TV automatically searches for the latest firmware and downloads it to the display. New units shipping to retailers such as CostCo, Sam’s Club, and Walmart will have the firmware pre-installed. Prices for the 2017 E-Series range from $550 for the 55″ model to $3400 for the 80″ behemoth. The 65-incher is only $900, while the 75″ model goes for $2000.