The Vizio V-Series is an affordable, entry-level 4K Smart TV that supports Dolby Vision, HRD10 and HDR10+.
The 2023 V-Series offers a lot of value for its price. The V-Series has an intuitive remote and supports hands-free voice commands. But a few tweaks to its Smart TV platform SmartCast would go a long way with improving the overall user experience. Vizio released its 2023 Smart TV lineup in the summer of 2022.
- A closer look at Vizio V-Series
- What is Vizio SmartCast?
- Conclusion on Vizio V-Series
A closer look at Vizio V-Series
Budget 4K TVs are great for price conscious consumers. You can enjoy 4K picture resolution with Dolby Vision, HDR+ or HDR10 without the price tag of a premium television.
But what are the trade-offs? Are budget 4K TVs worth it? Do you need a streaming device to get dependable performance over the long term?
These kinds of questions are often asked by shoppers and newbie cord-cutters migrating from the world of cable TV and satellite service.
Less than a decade ago, the conventional wisdom was to be wary of your Smart TV software. That’s no longer the case.
LG, Samsung, Vizio and other brands have been building out better operating systems. Software updates are more commonplace.
TV manufacturers are also tapping Roku, Google TV and Amazon Fire TV as a software platform instead of developing their own Smart TV platform.
Vizio Smart TVs uses its own SmartCast platform. I got to spend a few weeks testing it out. I am already familiar with reviewing Smart TVs that use Google TV (on a Sony Bravia OLED), and a Roku TV from TCL.
Vizio’s 2023 model of the V-Series Smart TV came out in the summer of 2022. It now supports VRR with AMD FreeSync (unlike the 2021 model) aiding with low input lag for gaming. The latest V-Series model has kept Vizio’s IQ Active Processor, which upscales some resolutions to 4K.
An updated SmartCast platform (Version 6.5) includes Vizio’s own streaming platform WatchFree+.
The design of the TV looks like a more premium TV than its price point thanks to Vizio’s ThinFrame design.
Pros vs Cons
- Affordable 4K TV with Dolby Vision
- Supports hands-free voice commands
- Decent remote control
- Apple AirPlay & Google Chromecast support
- Watchlist aggregates across streaming apps
- Lacks brightness
- No ESPN app
- Average audio
- Needs channel guide for over-the-air channels
Vizio’s 2023 V-Series picture quality
The latest iteration of the Vizio V-Series has a crisp image with noticeable color accuracy. The display has an excellent contrast ratio with deep blacks.
The V-Series uses full array backlight, but lacks local dimming and wide color gamut seen on premium 4K TVs. The TV doesn’t get bright enough to fend off glare in a sun-drenched room.
This is a TV that is best viewed head-on. When you stand off to the side, the display starts to look washed out, giving it a narrow viewing angle.
But you have a number of preset picture modes for watching sports, movies or playing video games. You can further adjust brightness, tint, sharpness and color temperature to your liking.
Vizio’s IQ Active Processor powers the company’s “intelligent 4K upscaling” and pixel tuning.
What is Vizio SmartCast?
SmartCast is the native software for Vizio’s entire line of Smart TVs.
You will find SmartCast on the Vizio M-Series Quantum X, M-Series Quantum 6, the 2023 V-Series, and 2023 D-Series.
The TV comes preloaded with 123 apps (yes, I counted), so you are not using an app store such as Google Play.
A number of popular streaming services you would expect are already on the TV.
I didn’t break out a stopwatch, but based on my recent speed tests comparing streaming devices, apps on the V-Series load quickly.
The home screen has some similarities to Google TV.
There are rows of movies aggregated from various streaming services, organized by “Trending Now”, and “Recommended for You.”
There are dedicated rows for Disney+ and Apple TV+ recommendations if you subscribe to those streaming services.
You can build a watchlist on your homepage from movies and series that you’re interested in from across supported streaming services. Google TV takes a similar approach to its Watchlist feature. The V-Series puts the Watchlist two rows below your app lineup, making it convenient to get to a movie that you saved.
The V-Series supports Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay. Having the ability to cast from apps on an iPhone, iPad or Android device will come in handy.
Among SmartCast’s lineup of apps, there are a few notable omissions such as ESPN. At front and center of SmartCast is WatchFree+, Vizio’s own ad-supported streaming service.
WatchFree+ has more than 260 channels and an on-demand library. Anyone already using Pluto TV or XUMO will recognize some of the channels on WatchFree+.
The V-Series platform is not as polished as Google TV, and leans a little too heavily on its WatchFree+ streaming service.
Remote control, voice commands and Bluetooth
There is a lot to appreciate with the V-Series remote control. It’s palm-sized, and intuitive.
A navigation wheel is at its center with a volume rocker underneath. It has dedicated buttons for power, volume, mute, settings and closed captions.
There are quick launch buttons for Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Pluto TV, iHeart Radio and tubi.
The long list of voice commands were impressive for a TV at this price. SmartCast really shines when it is paired with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple Home.
I consider having hands-free controls over the TV’s power, volume, and streaming apps a premium feature. But SmartCast even has hands-free voice commands for launching specific apps while the TV is powered off.
Vizio has a robust mobile app with a virtual remote control that includes all the same features.
Inputs, Bluetooth & other streaming devices
If you don’t want to use SmartCast, you can set up the V-Series so it powers on and off through another streaming device.
I plugged in a Chromecast with Google TV 4K, and set up its universal remote to control the TV’s volume and power.
It’s great to see an option like this on a budget TV, where you might want some flexibility. For example, if guests at your in-law apartment are more comfortable using a Roku, you can accommodate them during their stay.
You can connect the TV to WiFi (2 GHz or 5GHz), or with a wired Ethernet cable through a port on the back of the TV.
The V-Series has a USB 2.0 port that can be used for connecting a thumb drive to view photos or watching a video file. You can opt to have power always available through USB or shut off when the TV is powered off.
There are three HDMI 2.1 ports. One of the HDMI ports supports eARC, which is a plus if you are connecting a sound bar or separate streaming device.
Having HDMI 2.1 ports are needed if you are connecting a game console such as XBox Series X that supports 4K gaming. Gamers should be aware that the V-Series TV supports 60 Hz refresh rate, not 120Hz.
The V-Series does support Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) with AMD FreeSync, and Game Low Latency.
Audio quality, Bluetooth & supported formats
The TV speakers have adequate sound. The TV came preset with DTS Virtual:X. After tinkering with treble and bass, I preferred the surround sound setting.
The V-Series supports Dolby Audio, DTS:X and Dolby Atmos pass-through that can integrate with Vizio sound bars.
You have the option to connect a set of headphones or earbuds via Bluetooth. But I was hoping for some improved audio when I connected my Bose headsets. The audio still sounded average.
What’s missing from SmartCast
The Vizio SmartCast does have an ATSC 1.0 tuner that allows you to plug in a TV antenna for free over-the-air channels.
But there is no integrated channel guide for over-the-air channels. You can move up and down through the channel guide or use an on-screen keypad to type in a channel you want to see.
It would be nice if Vizio had an option to integrate over-the-air channels into WatchFree+ or its Live TV tab. Google TV supports integrating live TV streaming services such as YouTube TV and Philo along with over-the-air channels.
If Vizio developed a Smart TV platform that integrated over-the-air TV channels with a live TV streaming service such as Sling TV, it would gain an unique edge over Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices. The new broadcast standard NextGen TV (ATSC 3.0) is coming, and it may usher in a new era of free TV that few are expecting.
After combing through all 123 apps on SmartCast, there are some noticeable omissions.
There is no ESPN app (thus, no ESPN+), but you will find its sibling apps Disney+ and Hulu. Paramount+ is present, but its sibling streamer Showtime is left out. There is no CNN app, which live streams CNN International through TV Everywhere activation.
Lesser known services such as Philo or (my favorite) The Criterion Channel are not there. Of course, streaming services choose which hardware they are going to support.
Conclusion on Vizio V-Series
For an entry-level TV that supports 4K, the Vizio V-Series offers a solid overall picture with accurate color that would be a decent pick for a guest bedroom or playroom. It’s peak brightness and HDR performance isn’t as strong as a mid-tier or high-end television.
The closest comparison to the Vizio V-Series, in both price and picture, is the TCL 4-Series. The TCL 4-Series is a budget 4K TV that has a more polished user interface with Google TV, and a wider selection of native streaming apps.
But the V-Series supports more HDR formats, including Dolby Vision, HDR10, and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG). The TCL 4-Series only supports HDR10.
A number of streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, offer shows and movies in Dolby Vision and HDR10 without charging extra. But you will need a 4K TV that supports those better picture resolutions.
V-Series 2023 Specs
- Smart Platform: SmartCast 6.5
- Maximum Resolution: (UHD) 3840 x 2160
- HDR Support: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+
- VRR Support: 40 to 60Hz FreeSync
- HDMI Inputs: 3 (2 ports: HDMI 2.1, 1 port: eARC)
- Ethernet port: 1
- USB port: 1
- Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 6E Tri-Band
- Audio output: HDMI eARC, Analog Stereo Out, Digital Optical
- Weight with Stand: 15.6 lbs.
Where to buy Vizio V-Series
The 2023 V-Series 4K HDR Smart TV debuted at $289.99 this summer. But the priced has since lowered at retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart.
The V-Series comes in 43-inch, 50-inch, 55-inch, 58-inch, 65-inch, 70-inch and 75-inch screen sizes.
Vizio V-Series at Best Buy
Vizio V-Series at Walmart
This article was originally published on December 7, 2022, and has been updated.
Jim Kimble is a seasoned industry expert with over two decades of journalism experience. He has been at the forefront of the cord-cutting movement since 2016, testing and writing about TV-related products and services. He founded The Cord Cutting Report in 2016.
Major publications, including MarketWatch, Forbes, and South Florida Sun Sentinel, have interviewed Kimble for his years of expertise. He gives advice on the complexities consumers are navigating with streaming options, and over-the-air TV. Kimble has been a staff writer or correspondent for several award-winning, daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. You can follow Jim on LinkedIn, YouTube and at X at @james_kimble