Kudos: Vizio’s P75-F1 SmartCast TV is a great display overall, with great color and grayscale performance, no noticeable backlight blooming, and a simple design that should blend well with virtually any interior.
Concerns: While the image is beautiful overall, you’ll occasionally notice some vertical stripes or dark streaks in very bright images or images with fast horizontal pans. IP control with Control4 also requires a third-party driver, and there’s no provision for RS-232 control. The IR remote sensor is also inconveniently placed at the extreme left corner of the display. And although its legs look stylish, they don’t provide anything in the way of cable management.
When Vizio initially contacted me about reviewing their new 75-inch P-Series 4K HDR SmartCast TV for Residential Systems, I mentioned the offer to an industry colleague (who may or may not write for these pages), and the conversation that followed was, to say the least, interesting.
“I don’t think you can even calibrate those things!”
That’s actually not t…
“Like, I heard there aren’t even onscreen menus!”
Yes, there a…
“And somebody told me you can’t integrate them with an automation system because they have their own proprietary tablet for control and no discrete codes!”
Okay, to be fair, a couple of these things were sort of halfway true for a hot minute back in 2016, but that failed experiment in radical TV reinvention thankfully passed quickly. What just as quickly became clear from our conversation, though, is that there is some merit to reviewing one of Vizio’s latest offerings for an audience of integrators, if only to bust some widely held misconceptions. Because even if you’re not likely to sell Vizio displays, you’re going to treat a home at some point with a pre-existing Vizio condition. These are, after all, amongst the best-selling TVs out there at the moment, and with good reason. If you dabble at all in BYOTV systems integrations, you’re going to come face-to-face with one eventually.
So, what are you in for?
Honestly? A really damned nice UHD TV. No horns. No tail. Nothing weird or unintuitive in terms of setup, calibration, operation, or performance.
The P75-F1 reviewed here is one of the two largest displays in Vizio’s 2018 lineup, and, as a P-Series display, it’s second from the top in terms of performance. Only the P-Series Quantum — which you probably already guessed relies on quantum dots for enhanced contrast and color performance — outranks it. But that display’s 65-inch size limitation holds it back to a degree.
All of the rest of Vizio’s offerings rely on full array LED-backlit LCD technology, with varying degrees of local dimming, starting with the D-Series (no local dimming), up through the E-Series (up to 16 zones of local dimming), M-Series (up to 48 zones of what Vizio dubs Active Full Array Plus local dimming), and the P-Series reviewed here (up to 120 zones, Active Full Array Pro).
It’s hard to know quite how that compares with other TV manufacturers, since most keep their dimming zones a closely guarded secret, but, suffice to say, Vizio has a leg up on much of its competition in this department.
The P75-F1 boasts support for UHD10 and Dolby Vision, as well as Hybrid Log Gamma — a little-used high dynamic range format found occasionally on YouTube and expected to see wider adoption once broadcasters get into the 4K/HDR game. In terms of connectivity, the P75 boasts five HDMI inputs (one with ARC), a component video in, optical digital and stereo RCA analog audio outs, a coaxial connection for cable/satellite TV or OTA (yes, unlike some past models, the P75-F1 has an internal tuner for cord-cutters), and an Ethernet port if you don’t want to use its built in WiFI. What it doesn’t have, though, is an RS-232 port, 3.5mm IR input port, or anything else that might help you avoid sticking one of those godawful IR repeaters on its power indicator/remote sensor at the bottom left of the display.
And neither does it have native IP drivers for control systems such as Control4. Fortunately, though, one company has stepped up to rectify this, so you’re not stuck using one of the handful of old Vizio IR drivers. annex4 is a company many Control4 programmers are likely already familiar with. They’re probably best known for their free IP drivers for Anthem receivers, Oppo UHD Blu-ray players (RIP), Nuheat thermostats, and more. The Control4 IP driver they’ve developed for Vizio SmartCast TVs isn’t free, mind you, but I was rather shocked by its relatively low price. I generally spend more to dine out with my wife on any given Tuesday.
The annex4 SmartCast driver does require the installation of annex4 LiNK, a sort of ur-driver that manages licenses, driver updates, etc. But installation of it and the SmartCast driver took me all of two minutes, tops. Once you have LiNK set up and configured, simply drag the SmartCast driver into place, make any relevant AV connections, and from there it’s as simple as feeding Control4 Composer Pro the IP address of the Vizio SmartCast TV you want to control (and, yes, in case you’re wondering, the P75-F1 does allow you to set up a static IP quite easily). With that done, you merely press the Pair button from within the driver and type the code that pops up on the TV itself into the driver’s Properties tab. You’ll also need to switch the TV from Eco to Quick Start mode, but that’s it.
There are, of course, a few other things you can do to make sure your clients get the most out of their Vizio TVs. The display offers really easy access to its color calibration menus, but to be frank you probably don’t need to bother with them. This isn’t to say that you couldn’t make improvements to the picture with your SpectraCal setup, but any such improvements would border on diminishing returns. Fire up the display, put it in Calibrated Dark mode (or simply Calibrated mode if you’re in a super bright room), and the Vizio’s colors and greyscale are really fantastic right out of the box. Do the same with some HDR content playing and bump the Xtreme Black Engine Pro setting to Medium for a little extra pop and sizzle, and your clients will likely be wowed by the picture.
Honestly, the P75-F1 looked better overall uncalibrated than my three-year-old flagship Samsung did post-calibration. Which isn’t to say that the picture is perfect, mind you. This is an LED/LCD display, after all, without the benefit of quantum dots. So, blacks are not absolutely black, and with the Xtreme Black Engine Pro on anything other than Off, you can occasionally see some weird tone mapping issues on UIs (like my Dish Network channel guide or my Roku main screen). And with really fast horizontal pans, you can occasionally see that the local dimming doesn’t quite keep perfect time with the image, resulting in mildly wonky dark stripes on the screen that look like the vertical streaks for a half-second or so. And when displaying images that are largely white or nearly white, you can see some backlight streaking.
Still, the night I got the display set up in my system, my wife and I watched The Last Jedi on UHD Blu-ray, and as the credits rolled she turned to me and said, “I kinda don’t feel the need to go to the movie theater ever again.” So, obviously, for most viewing content, the slight performance issues the TV have aren’t a significant distraction.
The SmartCast platform, on the other hand, kinda is. I’m not a real fan of smart TVs anyway, Roku devotee that I am, but the SmartCast apps, as well as the WatchFree app powered by Pluto.tv, strike me as a little worse than the norm for such platforms, given their laggy operation.
No matter. Those are minor complaints. Putting on my consumer hat, I’m kinda giddy about the level of performance I’m getting here from a $2000 75-inch display. Now that I’ve lived life at 75 inches, I’m not sure I could settle for a smaller TV. (Reminder: I live in Alabama, where gigantic ceiling fans are a matter of life and death nine months out of the year and front projection isn’t a practical option.)
Putting on my integrator hat, I’m less than thrilled that Vizio doesn’t work with automation companies to develop IP drivers for their SmartCast displays. But the third-party offering from annex4 works so well and is so inexpensive that it’s hard to grump.
Bottom line? Don’t freak out if you’re hired to design a system for a client who already owns (or just desperately wants) one of the current crop of Vizio TVs. The P75-F1 is a super solid display with great color, great white balance, really good brightness, amazing contrast, pretty much zero backlight blooming, and a simple, stylish design that will look great in any room, even when the TV is off.
Want more stories like this delivered to your inbox every day? Then sign up for the free Residential Systems eNewsletter here.
- Screen Size (Diag.): 74.50" / 1892.30 mm
- Smart Platform: VIZIO SmartCast with Chromecast built-in
- High Dynamic Range: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
- Resolution: Ultra HD - 3840 x 2160
- Display Processor: V8 Octa-Core Processor
- Backlight Type: Full Array LED
- Local Dimming Zones: 120
- Built-in Wi-Fi: 802.11ac Dual Band
- UHD Codec Support: VP9 and HEVC (H.265)
- HDMI Ports: 5 (2 side / 3 bottom)
- Component: 1 (side/shared with Composite)
- Ethernet: 1 (bottom)
- USB Ports: 1 (side)
- TV Tuner: Yes
- ARC: Yes
- Analog Audio Out: 1 (bottom)
- Digital Audio Out (SPDIF): 1 (bottom)
OSD Language: English, Spanish, French
- Power Consumption: 282W
- Standby Power Consumption: < 0.5W
- Ambient Light Sensor: Yes
Wall Mount Specifications
- Mount Pattern: 400 mm x 400 mm
- Screw Size: M8
- Hole Depth: 21.8mm
- Screw Size: M4
- Screw Length: 28mm
Size and Weight
- Product with Stand Dimensions: 65.77" x 40.26" x 13.39" (1670.6mm x 1022.6mm x 340.1mm)
- Product with Stand Weight: 76.29 Lbs. / 34.61 Kg.
- Product without Stand Dimensions: 65.77" x 37.59" x 2.65" (1670.6mm x 954.8mm x 67.3mm)
- Product without Stand Weight: 75.32 Lbs. / 34.17 Kg.
- Product Packaging Dimensions: 74.76" x 45.87" x 8.94" (1898.9mm x 1165.1mm x 227.1mm)
- Product Packaging Weight: 103.64 Lbs. / 47.01 Kg.
- One Year Parts & Labor. Free Lifetime Technical Support.