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Vizio M65-C1 4K Ultra HD TV review: Great basics, a good picture, and some minor peccadilloes

Jon L. Jacobi | March 2, 2016
When it comes to the basics, and we mean the basic functionality that will cover most users, this 4K Ultra HD TV has great chops. The only area it's lacking in is direct playback from USB media and support for peripherals such as mice and keyboards.

Vizio touts its ClearAction number, which represents strobing the LED backlights to make motion smoother. The technique works because of very sound scientific principles, but the actual refresh rate that tells you how many cycles there are to insert black frames, interpolate, etc. for this TV is 120Hz. You’ll never find that in the documentation; instead there’s an “effective refresh rate” of 240Hz quoted.

I don’t normally talk about brightness, as most TVs lacking HDR (High Dynamic Range) fall somewhere in the 250 to 350 nits range with the backlight and brightness control maxed out. But the M65-C1 actually produced nearly 500 nits. Impressive, but the extra nits aren’t usable. Unless you like your movies in light pastels—which is what all the colors become with the brightness at that level. Consider that an interesting aside.

The M65-C1 uses a 32-zone backlight array with local dimming. It’s one of the better implementations I’ve seen. It fails as badly as every other LED-array TV if you feed it the wrong test pattern, but I saw zero issues with real content where it contributed greatly to the better-than-average (for the price) contrast.

The sound emanating from the M65-C1 is better than many TVs—there’s some actual low frequencies present. I didn’t have any real issues with it other than it sounding just a tad muffled. Now I’m not telling you won’t do better with a sound bar and subwoofer, but I wouldn’t say it’s strictly necessary either.

The M-series interface may not have the cachet of Android, webOS, or Firefox, but by and large it’s just about as easy to use (with some minor exceptions), and nearly  all the big streaming services—including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, et al—are represented in the apps selection. There are also web browsers, note-taking apps, etc.

Peccadilloes

All that said, there are a few minor interface annoyances, such as having to page-left and -right through file lists rather than simply scroll as does nearly every other interface in existence. Indeed, one of my first assignments in 8086 machine language way, way back in the day was to develop a scrolling list. I’d be happy to donate the code.

My main gripe about the M65-C1, however, is its limited CODEC support when playing files from a USB storage device. It’s difficult to know which codec a streaming service is using, so I’ll take Vizio’s word that when h.264 is streamed, the M65-C1 will play it. The H.264 files on my USB SSD, however, would not play, nor would 60-frames-per-second h.265 files, any DivX, or any QuickTime files. The major photo and music types, such as JPEG and MP3 are supported, but there are similar omissions among the less well-known. If you like to download stuff onto a hard drive and play it back on your TV, this not the product for you.

 

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