Updated

Vizio Smart TV Platform 2015 Review

6.5Remote
7.0Design
7.0Usability
4.0Web Browser
5.0Extra Features

Vizio’s overhauled their smart features for 2016. They’ve mostly gotten rid of their mediocre homebrew platform and instead implemented Google’s Chromecast Built-In (previously named Google Cast).

While the platform is versatile and has considerably grown in support from app makers, Vizio’s implementation is far from perfect, and accessing things as simple as the settings can be frustrating with the included tablet remote. Unlike other smart TVs, there are no apps on the TV itself.

Picture quality of Vizio smart TVs

Smart TV OS Remote Our Reviews
P Series Basic QWERTY See review
E Series 2015 Basic Basic See review
M Series 2015 Basic QWERTY See review
D Series 1080p 2016 Basic Basic See review
D Series 4k 2016 Basic Basic See review
E Series 1080p 2016 SmartCast Basic See review
E Series 4k 2016 SmartCast Basic See review
M Series 2016 SmartCast Tablet See review
P Series 2016 SmartCast Tablet See review

Vizio’s entire lineup this uses Full-array Local dimming VA panels with varying levels of quality across the lineup. They all, minus the outlier E Series (both 4k and 1080p), have good picture quality and are good value for money. You can find our list of those here.

The rest of this article reviews the smart features found in current Vizio models (except the D Series, since it still uses last year's OS). We used the Vizio P series 2016 for this review and will point out differences between the models where applicable.

Remote Control

Sony Smart TV Remote

The tablet remote isn't the greatest, it often has issues connecting to the TV and adjusting it's settings, meaning you have to re-do the first time setup. Fortunately, it's simply an Android tablet with a few apps pre-installed, and you can get the same functionality on your iOS or Android phone with added stability.

The basic remote is the only remote that comes with the E series, but it is also packaged with the P and M series. It's very basic, too much so in fact. It lacks essential controls like arrow keys, so traveling through the limited menus it has control over is tiresome since you have to go through the whole list to go backward.

Boot Time

Since there isn't much to load, the Vizio P consistently launches under 10 seconds. That makes it easily one of the fastest we've tested this year. This is mostly because Smartcast has a "fast boot" feature that essentially keeps the TV in a sleeping standby mode instead of shutting it off completely. From the tablet remote or the Smartcast app, you can enable "eco mode" to have it shut down completely instead. This has the disadvantage of disabling the ability for the TV update automatically.

Main Interface

Since SmartCast doesn’t come with any apps on the TV itself. The main interface is exceptionally simple. Only a customizable picture, the time and date and the network can be seen. You can’t even access settings on the TV itself; everything goes through the app.

You have a few options you can change with the basic remote, namely input and color mode. It's incredibly limited and otherwise almost useless.

Pairing is, fortunately, easy. With the included tablet remote, just launch the app and start the setup, then place it in the bottom right corner.

 

Google Cast

This TV's entire smart features are reliant on Google's casting platform. If you've ever used a Chromecast before, this will be the same. You use the app you want to send to the TV on your phone, and if you're connected to the same network as the TV, you'll see the "cast" logo at the top of the screen.

Google Chrome allows you to cast a page from a Mac or PC, but you can also cast and mirror the screen of the tablet remote or your phone. This somewhat negates the inclusion of a real integrated web browser, but it makes navigating the internet on the TV a bit cumbersome. It is quite useful however for watching content that hasn't been made available through mobile apps.

Tablet Remote and App

One of the best features from Smartcast is the app that comes pre-installed with the tablet remote. It's not the most intuitive, but it has a lot of depth and it allows you to cast a lot of sources from a single place.

This is also where you'll find all the settings. In fact, it's the only way to change most of them. Fortunately, they offer a lot of control.

USB Playback

Unfortunately, Vizio's software upgrade also removed the ability to browse through USB drives for content. All it does now is play everything on the drive in a loop. You don't have any control over what's playing, not even play or pause. To enable this feature, just plug in a USB drive when the TV is on and on the main screen. It won't work if it's kept in before starting the TV. Since the Vizio D Series still uses last year's smart OS, it will have better capabilities in this regard.

Most Video formats are supported, but it's not worth using it as anything other than a live photo frame. Unlike competing TVs, the Vizio Smartcast TVs were also incapable of interpreting HDR Metadata from a USB source.

Conclusion

Smartcast is undeniably not for everybody. You're always going to have to use an additional device to browse any content you wish to play on the TV. A lot might be satisfied with this, especially if they like the Chromecast experience. But most other smart platforms today offer similar or, in the case of Android, the same feature while also having a complete platform available. It's hard to recommend Vizio TVs on smart features alone, especially when considering the fierce competition they face in that regard.

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Questions & Answers

16 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
29
Does Vizio E48-C2 play HBO Go?
No. So far, only Samsung smart TVs have access to HBO Go.
15
Assuming that one would want access to a web browser, could an aftermarket Android box be connected to the Vizio M43 and operated without interference from the Vizio native operating system?
Yes, that would work well.
8
Is there any way that I can hook up my bluetooth headphones to this tv? I love that my guy plays his guitar, but I don't love it over my shows.
Unfortunately, you can't connect a bluetooth headset directly on Vizio TVs but you can always shop for a bluetooth adapter that accept an optical connection. That would work.
3
What's the difference between the 49" and 50" M series beside the 'i'?
The 49" has an IPS panel that produce grayish blacks. It also has a better viewing angle. We prefer the 50" that has better picture quality because of its better contrast.
2
Does it work with Apple TV. What are the short comings in using Apple TV with this product?
Since Apple TV is an external device, you can use it with any TV that has an HDMI connection. It will work with Vizio TVs without any short comings.
2
Can I install the SlingPlayer app on my 48 inch Vizio?
No. The app is only available on streaming devices such as the AppleTV, Roku and Chromecast.
2
Is the Skype app still available to install on the Vizio E-series? I have a Vizio XCV100 camera that I purchased a couple of years ago that I hope will work with the newer TVs.
No, not at the moment.
1
Is there any way to download the Dish app on a Visio smart t.v.?
No it is not available.
1
I'm considering the Vizio E, M, and P series for a 50" smart tv. We have Roku streaming and Amazon Prime. I am concerned about clarity of picture and sound. Which of these series would fit our wishes?
The Vizio M is overall the best one of the bunch, although the differences aren't really big. Keep also in mind that no TV has really good sound.
1
We are looking to add the CBS app on our new Vizio E-series TV. Is this possible w/o a Roku box?
You'll need a Roku. The app isn't available through Vizio's platform.
1
Apparently I did not activate my remote control properly when I first set the TV up and now the keyboard does not work. How can I go back and activate the remote so the keyboard works?
The instructions for resetting and pairing the bluetooth keyboard remote can be found here.
0
If I didn't have an Internet connection to the TV, but I have it on my phone, could I still make the YouTube videos pop from my phone to TV?
There are no built-in screen mirroring features in Vizio TVs, so no. Connecting your TV to the internet is the easiest solution.
0
When you say Vizio TVs do not have a web browser, does that mean I can not browse the Internet using the TV? That I am only limited to using the preinstalled apps? Can I install new apps? Like Skype? My goal is to remotely monitor a security camera at an offsite location and my understanding is that I need a TV with internet access and/or a Skype app to do that. I was considering the Vizio E Series 70 inch.
For an integrated solution, you will have to look for another TV as 2015 Vizio TVs don't have a web browser or a Skype app. 2015 Samsung TVs would be better for an integrated solution. Here is a list of Skype compatible TVs. Another option is to use an all-in-one Skype camera that works with any TV but that run for an additional cost. Here is one example.
0
The news apps on my Vizio E-series all seem to be from Fox and, in any event, there's not even one for San Francisco. Is Vizio going to be adding any more apps in 2016?
Unfortunately, we don't know what Vizio's plans are for their app platform. We'll hopefully get a better idea once they announce their 2016 lineup in the coming months.
0
Will I ever be able to access the operating system on my 60 inch 2013 vizio smart tv so I can give it select updates
Most likely no.
0
Good afternoon. I bought a TV VIZIO D55ud1 55" UHD 4k and want to know: What kind of wireless keyboard on the market (amazon) I buy that work perfectly with this model, since I live in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Awaiting your comments. Greetings.
We tried the Microsoft Wireless Desktop 900 keyboard and it was found to work with the D50u-D1. On the other hand, we have also tried the very popular Logitech K400r keyboard and it was found not to work. So it is a good idea to try a keyboard before buying it if you can, to be sure that it will work out with the TV.
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