Vizio D-Series D65-E0 TV Review: Big-Screen Value

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Go big or go home — that's the thinking behind the 65-inch Vizio D-Series D65-E0. It delivers a big, brash 4K Ultra HD picture for less than $900, making it a bargain for a family on a budget or anyone looking for a more affordable large screen. The D65-E0 is an LCD TV with a full-array LED backlight with local dimming. Essentially, that means it can illuminate 12 different zones independently, highlighting bright areas of the screen while keeping other parts of an image relatively dark. On the downside, the D65 does not support HDR, something now found in most 4K sets this size.

Design: Big and bold

The 65-inch Vizio D-Series is big and on the thick side (3.3 inches, but stable enough on a tabletop. That's thanks to two splayed legs, one on each end of the set. The legs have a slight Eiffel Tower design twist that gives them a faux ironwork look.

Otherwise, the set conforms to the basic geometries of big-screen TVs, wrapped in black with all the requisite connections: four HDMI inputs, and ports for component video, USB and Ethernet connections. There's built-in Wi-Fi and an RF cable plug for those planning to cut the cord and add an antenna.

Performance: Good black levels and admirable upscaling

Aside from the backlighting and local dimming, there's not a lot of wizardry behind the 65-inch Vizio D-Series set. It's a fairly standard 60-Hz LCD panel that delivers good 4K resolution and deeper, darker black levels than most LCD sets in this price range. More expensive OLEDs (such as those from LG) still achieve inkier blacks and better contrast, but those sets cost more than twice as much.

Gamers looking for an inexpensive big screen will like that the Vizio D-Series turned in a relatively quick lag time of just 51 ms.

You also won't see the same intensity of bright whites, reds and green hues that you will with good HDR 4K TVs, but the Vizio did well enough in our benchmarks. In its best preset video mode (called Calibrated), the D65-E0 covered most of the available color range, with 98.9 percent of the Rec. 709 specification.

The set also turned in respectable color accuracy, with a Delta-E of 2.2 (0 is perfect).

Gamers looking for an inexpensive big screen should note that the Vizio D-Series turned in a relatively quick lag time of just 51 milliseconds, which is not the fastest we've ever seen but is better than average for a set in this class.

One area where the 65-inch Vizio appeared to struggle was with peak brightness, registering one of the lower numbers (163 nits with a 10 percent window; double that is more typical) in our tests. However, that's partly due to the local dimming feature; turning that off would affect the overall picture quality but improve the brightness if you needed it (such as in a sun-filled room). We did not switch off the local dimming and were generally pleased with the results.

MORE: Our Favorite 4K (Ultra HD) TVs Available Now

The 4K picture of the Deadpool Blu-ray disc was captivating on this Vizio set. Action scenes worked well, and colors looked good given the extensive special effects and CGI. The Vizio D-Series did tend to squash areas of subtle shades, turning them into black patches — and it still looked grayish when a lighter picture element was introduced, like a sudden flash of light. However, the D65-E0 did better in this regard than the more expensive Samsung Q7F even while it sacrificed some shading details.

For the most part, the 65-inch Vizio D-Series upscaled HD content to 4K with aplomb.

Watching additional material, including the 4K version of The Martian, we tracked the blacks and found that by contrast, the Vizio set's whites could look cream-colored (like the interior of the habitat) or even green (some white elements of the spacesuits), compared with the leading OLED sets from LG and Sony. There was also a definite loss of color saturation in off-axis viewing, which is typical of LCDs.

Most of the material still available is standard HD today, so upscaling that content to 4K is an important skill. For the most part, the 65-inch Vizio D-Series managed this task with aplomb. In Gravity, it did well isolating Sandra Bullock's suit against the stars without creating an artificial halo around her.  The set did tend to clump star fields together in a slightly exaggerated manner, but the D65 offers much better contrast in practice than less expensive sets, such as the 55-inch TCL 4K Roku TV, do.

This set relies on the old Yahoo-based software and apps that Vizio has used for years. It's serviceable but hardly extensive.

Audio: Unexciting

Compared with top-performing sound systems, such as those in the LG E7 and Sony Bravia AE1, the Vizio D-Series audio system sounds muffled and remote. There's no dynamic range, so musical crescendos fall flat. There's a surround sound setting, which didn't do much to improve the openness of the audio in my tests. In general, I found the built-in audio created a claustrophobic feeling. Even pop tunes lacked excitement, with vocals artificially projected up front and instruments like the string section receding into the background.

MORE: Our Favorite Soundbars for Small and Big TVs

The bottom line: Invest in a soundbar to get the full cinematic experience out of the Vizio D-Series D65-E0.

Smart Features: Old-school

Vizio has begun using a new Google Chromecast-style interface on its premium TVs — but not on the D-Series. This model relies on the old Yahoo-based software and apps that Vizio has used for years. It's serviceable but hardly extensive.

Entertainment options run along the bottom of the screen, including apps for streaming services. Those include the major services, such as Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube. While Vizio will continue to support this software, the D-Series cannot be upgraded to Vizio's newer interface. If you want more, you can always add a 4K Roku Premiere box for $70.

MORE: Our Favorite Streaming Media Players and Sticks

Bottom Line

If you're after a big-screen 4K set and don't care about snazzy online offerings or having the absolutely latest features, the 65-inch Vizio D-Series set is a good choice. It doesn't have the subtlety or ultimate punch of more expensive sets that have HDR support, such as the Samsung Q7, but it does well handling black levels, especially for an LCD set in this price range. Those who want a big 4K picture will appreciate the 65-inch D-Series' price tag. And to beef up the feature set, you can always add a soundbar and a Roku box later.

Credit: Vizio

John R. Quain

John R. Quain has been reviewing and testing video and audio equipment for more than 20 years. For Tom's Guide, he has reviewed televisions, HDTV antennas, electric bikes, electric cars, as well as other outdoor equipment. He is currently a contributor to The New York Times and the CBS News television program.