We all know how it goes with consumer technology – the features that you’ll find in a top of the range TV now will be found perfectly at home on a mid-range set within a couple of years.
Vizio’s M-Series Quantum 65-inch (M658-1G1) is proof of that in action, and offers a surprisingly premium experience for its $1000 price tag. Its spec-list checks off previously flagship features, including quantum dot technology, HDR support and full array backlighting, and as well as our 65 inch review model, comes in screen sizes ranging from 43 inches and up.
The best bit? It actually performs more or less as well as the specs suggests, making it one of our favourite sets at this price.
The overall design of the Vizio M-Series Quantum is pretty much the same as last year’s model, but then it didn’t really need a lot of work.
Slim black bezels surround the top and sides of the display, with a thicker bezel running along the bottom edge, bearing the Vizio logo. It’s a pretty slim TV at 2.8 inches thick, too – far from OLED levels of thinness, but good for the price.
Its construction is mostly plastic but it is sturdy enough, with a stand that consists of metal v-shaped feet at either end.
This design means the set needs a decently sized TV stand or table to accommodate it - the Vizio measures almost 12 inches deep and 57 inches long with the feet attached.
On the back you’ll find the TV’s collection of ports, divided into one row of right-facing and another of downward-facing ports. There are four HDMIs, one of which is ARC compatible, a single USB port, a pair of RCAs for more traditional speakers and an optical connection for soundbars.
You’ll also find a relatively new feature for Vizio TVs – a connection for HD antennas, which was only reintroduced with last year’s sets, plus there’s the choice of an ethernet port or built-in wi-fi for getting the set online.
You’ll want to do that so you can make use of Vizio’s SmartCast 3.0, the latest version of its smart TV platform. The update has a richer interface than previous versions, and adds a row of recommended content alongside a richer selection of locally installed apps.
The apps available include Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu and Vudu. Thanks to a partnership with PlutoTV, Vizio also offers a dedicated streaming channel called WatchFree, which gives you a more linear TV experience with over 100 free channels, including sports, news, cartoons and movies.
Of course, with Chromecast built in, you can always cast directly to the TV from your device, plus there’s Apple AirPlay 2 on board too, letting you share just as easily from your iPhone or iPad.
Speaking of smartphones, you can use yours in place of the included remote, via the Vizio app. It gives you all the buttons of the physical remote along with easy streaming and casting options that make it more straightforward to share content with your TV.
Prefer a standard remote? Vizio remotes are pretty distinctive in their look and feel, so you’ll either love it or hate it. With a slim design and oval profile, we find it very comfortable to hold and pretty well laid out, but we’d prefer a more premium finish and a few more features.
For a set that sells for less than $1,000, it’s hard to not be impressed by what the M-Series Quantum manages when it comes to picture quality.
Offering a combination of quantum dots to boost brightness and color and full array local dimming for deeper blacks and brighter brights, the M-Series Quantum delivers a truly outstanding performance – just make sure you pick the right set.
Rather confusingly, Vizio offers differences in backlighting between models at the same screen size, with those sold cheaper through Walmart (the 55in M558-G0 and the 65in M657-G0) offering significantly fewer backlighting zones than their more expensive counterparts, sold by Best Buy.
For example, the cheaper 65-inch model has 20 dimming zones instead of the 90 seen in our review unit. The 55-inch (M557-G0) has only 16. This will understandably affect performance if you opt for the cheaper set.
We watch Spider-Man: Homecoming to test it our sample on bright colors and fast action, and the M658-G1 does an excellent job of keeping colors accurate and true to life.
A daytime shot of the Washington Monument is filled with red, white and blue flags, and plenty of moving people, and the Vizio handles it all really well, offering the right amount of punch and stability respectively. If we’re being picky, greens are arguably a touch oversaturated but thankfully it doesn’t seem to noticeably affect any other colors.
With support for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, HDR content looks great on the M658-G1, as well – not something you can always say with more affordable sets. That’s thanks to good levels of brightness, which is a rarity in price-conscious TVs.
For example, the night-time fight scene involving Spider-Man taking on a bad guy on a dark beach is sufficiently dark but punctuated effectively with bright flames and glowing lights. And, unlike the performance of last year's P-Series Quantum PQ65-F1 (Vizio's first quantum-dot display), the individual backlighting zones don't cause distinct flaring.
Good motion handling is also not a given on a more affordable set, but even fast action is nice and smooth on the M658-G1, with none of the choppiness or heavy-handedness you might expect to run into. In fact, the 60Hz display ably keeps up with fast-paced action, from Spider-Man swinging through the city or a Replicant fistfight in Blade Runner 2049.
Vizio has kitted out the M658-G1 with a pair of 20-watt speakers designed to match sound quality to the enhanced display. Overall, we’re impressed, particularly with the TV’s ability to go very loud.
Listen to Ramin Djiwadi's "Light of the Seven" from the Game of Thrones soundtrack, the contrast of the deep cello and emotive piano and violin is reproduced very well.
We notice the bass-heavy cello does show signs of distortion as the volume creeps above 60%, and the faintest hint of cabinet buzz can be heard at 90% volume. At the other end of the scale, there is also a touch of clipping at high volumes, meaning brighter notes are sometimes a little muted.
Aside from this, though, the speakers produce excellent volume and impressive bass, especially considering the lack of a dedicated subwoofer.
Vizio’s TVs have taken major strides in the last couple of years, and the addition of quantum dots has kept up that momentum - these are excellent sets that offer great value.
Considering it isn’t even the company’s flagship set, the midrange M-Series Quantum delivers great brightness and HDR performance, great overall picture quality and decent sound to boot.
Add to that a good smart TV platform and plenty of ports for the majority of set ups, and the Vizio M-Series Quantum 65-inch (M658-G1) gives you a lot to love for the money.