Those who want the very best picture quality and are willing to pay for it probably shouldn't consider the Vizio M1D-A2R. However, those who prize value as well as performance will find this set tough to pass up. Picture quality outperforms every LED TV in its price class as well as lots of TVs that cost more. The features lineup is complete, including passive 3D that works well and a recently revamped Internet streaming platform. Available models include the 50-inch Vizio M501D-A2R (Est. $800) and 55-inch M551D-A2R (Est. $1,100) . Other Vizio M-series sets have different specifications and features.
You get more than you pay for. Videophiles should steer clear, but the rest of us will find the Vizio M1D-A2R pretty impressive. Although some other LED TVs like the Sony Bravia KDL-55W900A (Est. $2,300) have deeper black levels and better color performance, most experts say the Vizio's black levels are deep enough to please the majority of viewers. Likewise, color performance draws mixed but mostly positive reactions. Some say it's perfect, at least in specific viewing modes; others say they see some minor inaccuracies. This set uses local dimming for better black performance, which is unheard of in this price class. An added benefit is that typical edge-lit LED TV screen uniformity issues like clouding are well controlled, although some blooming can be seen in certain scenes. The reflective screen gives images extra pop, but doesn't play well in a room with high ambient light.
3D that works. The Vizio M1D-A2R isn't a trailblazer when it comes to features, but what's here works well. Vizio was one of the first TV manufacturers to turn to passive rather than active 3D. While passive 3D reveals the old standard-definition scanning lines if you sit too close, most say this is as good as in-home 3D looks, at least at present. "It exhibited no crosstalk, with good color, and a solidity to images that active TVs can't muster," says CNET. It's still not as slick or sophisticated as some smart TV platforms like Samsung's Smart Hub with its recommendation engine based on viewing habits, but the Vizio Internet Apps Plus smart TV platform is newly updated with lots of additional providers and a refreshed user interface.
Looks as good as it performs. This Vizio set breaks new ground for the company with a design that looks as good as flagship offerings from other top makers. A super-thin black bezel wrapped on the outside with a silver band provides that minimalist look that's in for high-end sets. Connectivity is ample, but on-set controls have been reduced to a single button for turning the TV on and cycling through its inputs. For everything else you'll need to use the slimmed-down but basic remote. Gone is the QWERTY keyboard of early remotes, replaced with an on-screen virtual keyboard that makes entering text a tedious affair. While most users cite no real issues with the remote, one reviewer complains that it's slow and must be aimed fairly precisely for best results.
No other set offers this much for this little. It's unfair to expect videophile-level performance from a set at this price point, but most experts say the Vizio M1D-A2R comes pretty close. In a side-by-side comparison against flagship sets from Sony and Samsung, minor picture shortfalls can be seen by sharp-eyed viewers but picture quality is as good or better than most other TVs, including those that cost more. Coupled with good 3D performance and a decent Internet streaming platform, the Vizio M1D-A2R is an unbeatable value for all but the fussiest buyers.
CNET says picture quality isn't perfect, but the Vizio M1D-A2R is a remarkable performer given the price. That value, along with solid features, leads to a rating of 4 stars out of 5 here.
Review: Vizio M-Series Review: Not Just a Pretty Face, Ty Pendlebury, July 3, 2013
The Vizio M1D-A2R is named an Editors' Choice among mid-range HDTVs at PCMag.com. "If you want an affordable, 3D-capable HDTV, the LED-backlit Vizio M551D-A2R is hard to beat," says Will Greenwald.
Review: Vizio M551D-A2R, Will Greenwald, July 31, 2013
Lee Neikirk reviews the 50-inch Vizio M501D-A2R and give it an Editors' Choice recommendation. Overall picture quality makes up for weak blacks, making this "a great television, especially for $800," he says.
Review: Vizio 50M501D-A2R Review, Lee Neikirk, July 24, 2013
Dick De Jong notes some picture quality shortfalls, but says this Vizio set is still good enough to satisfy most viewers. The M551D-A2R he tests scores highly in all other respects, especially "bang for the buck."
Review: Vizio M551D-A2R Review, Dick De Jong, Aug. 20, 2013
About 100 owners critique the 55-inch Vizio M551D-A2R here, giving it 4.6 stars out of 5 overall. More than 90 percent say they'd recommend this TV to a friend. Elsewhere on the site, the 50-inch Vizio M501D-A2R receives even more feedback and similar praise.
Review: VIZIO - M-Series - 55" Class (54-5/8" Diag.) - LED - 1080p - 240Hz - Smart - 3D - HDTV, Contributors to BestBuy.com, As of September 2013