Vizio Embraces ATSC 1.0 Tuners & HDR In New 4K TVs - TvTechnology
TV manufacturer says consumers 'see value in free ATSC broadcasts'

Vizio is bringing ATSC broadcast tuners back to its entire 4K TV lineup.

The company is launching four new 4K smart-TV lines that feature more high dynamic range (HDR) formats, higher peak brightness levels in all but the entry-level series, more backlit local-dimming zones in select models to improve black levels, and its first quantum-dot TV in two years.

The new TVs are also the company’s first TVs that can be voice-controlled through smart speakers and mobile phones via Amazon Alexa. Like last year’s models, the new models can also be voice-controlled through speakers and phones via Google Assistant.

The flagship TV is the $2,199-suggested P-series Quantum, a 65-inch model with quantum-dot display, 192 local dimming zones, 2,000 nits of peak brightness, black levels said to be “comparable” with OLED displays, and wide color gamut reaching 98 percent of the DCI P3 digital-cinema standard, or 80 percent of the Rec. 2020 standard. It’s Vizio’s first quantum-dot TV in two years after phasing out a 65-inch Reference-series TV.

As quantum-dot film comes down in price, Vizio “will see how far we can spread it” in its lineup, but the company has no current plans to do so, said John Hwang, senior director of product management.

The quantum-dot TV is among 19 smart 4K TVs that Vizio is unveiling in the D, E, M and P series of 4K smart TVs. The entry-level D series also includes some HD and FHD smart and non-smart models. Like before, all models feature full-array backlighting instead of edge-lit LED lighting for better light uniformity and contrast, Vizio said.

All 2018 smart TVs run on Vizio’s SmartCast OS, which incorporates onscreen apps and Chromecast built-in, which enables the TV to stream any one of thousands of Chromecast-enabled apps running on a mobile device.

ATSC REVISITED

All TV models feature ATSC 1.0 tuners, which in the 2017 lines were available only in the entry-level D series. Vizio brought back free over-the-air ATSC tuning in force because the company recognized that although “a large percentage” of consumers don’t watch over-the-air TV, people who have cut the cord with traditional pay-TV services see value in free ATSC broadcasts, Hwang said.

[Read: Vizio Makes ATSC Tuner-Free 4KTVs]

Because linear TV is “still a strong use case,” Hwang added, Vizio is bringing YouTube TV’s vMVPD service to its selection of embedded smart-TV apps in the spring as well as its own over-the-top (OTT) free-TV service, which it is developing with Pluto TV to let viewers stream more than 100 free Internet channels.

The as-yet unnamed service, which will include some Vizio-exclusive channels, will give users access to OTT linear-TV channels through the TVs’ onscreen GUI as well as by using the channel up/down buttons of the TV’s remote. The service will feel like a traditional pay-TV service without the set-top box or subscription fee, the company said. Channels will offer news, sports, movies, talk shows, concerts and the like.

Pluto TV’s own OTT linear-TV service is available on 2017 and 2018 Vizio smart TVs, but Vizio promises its free linear-TV service will offer content not available through the Pluto service.

HDR, peak brightness: In its 2018 lineup, Vizio is also stepping up picture performance, in part by adding more HDR options. Hybrid Log Gamma appears for the first time in Vizio TVs and will be available on all 4K models, while Dolby Vision, previously available only in the M and P series, migrates down to the “step-up entry-level” E series. Like before, the HDR 10 format appears in all 4K models.

To goose up the peak brightness levels of specular highlights on a sustained basis, Vizio expanded its user-selectable Extreme Black Engine feature down into the E series and upgraded its performance to reduce blooming, said Hwang. The feature is tied to the TVs’ multiple backlit local-dimming zones.

A longer version of this article is available on TWICE.

For a comprehensive list of TV Technology’s ATSC 3.0 coverage, see our ATSC3 silo.