Vizio E-Series 65-Inch (E65-F1) Review: Affordable 4K Picture, Iffy Smarts

The Vizio 65-inch E-Series E65-F1 ($729) is Vizio's entry-level 4K TV, offering smart TV functionality and HDR support for a fairly affordable price. That puts this TV somewhere between the extreme budget-friendly models that sell for under $500 and the premium sets that go for $1,000 or more. Vizio manages to deliver a solid product and a reasonable value.

Editor's Note: (Nov. 9, 2018): Our initial review incorrectly said that gaming with HDR and 10-bit color was not supported. It can be enabled, but is not supported under default settings. We also corrected the number of channels included in Vizio's WatchFree streaming app. The original rating remains unchanged.

Vizio 65-inch E-Series E65-F1 Cheat Sheet: What you need to know

  • For a reasonable price, you get solid HDR performance and support for Dolby Vision.
  • Vizio's SmartCast platform offers built-in Chromecast for wide app support, but it provides very few local apps.
  • Local dimming is rarely seen in this price range, and the E65 does it pretty well.
  • Picture quality is great, with a wide gamut and accurate color.
  • Audio quality is good but not great. We recommend adding a soundbar.
  • Some may be disappointed by the lack of voice interaction, but you can add it with a Google Home or an Amazon Echo.

Vizio 65-Inch E-Series E65-F1 Specs

Price$729.99
Screen Size65 inches
Resolution3840 x 2160
HDRHDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Refresh Rate60 Hz
Ports4 HDMI, 1 USB
Audio2 channels, 10 watts
Smart TV SoftwareSmartCast with built-in Chromecast
Size57.9 x 33.4 x 3.4 inches [w/o stand]
Weight55.45 pounds [w/o stand]

Design

The Vizio E65 has a fairly decent design for a budget TV, with relatively narrow, 0.6-inch-wide bezels and a stripe of metal accenting the bottom edge of the cabinet. The cabinet measures 57.9 x 33.4 x 3.4 inches and weighs 55.45 pounds.

Two black plastic feet attach at either end of the cabinet. The stand has a footprint of 50.6 inches wide and 11.5 inches deep. If you want to skip the stand and hang the TV on a wall, the E65 can be used with a 400 x 200-millimeter VESA mount.

Ports

The E65 has Vizio's combined right-facing and downward-facing connector panels, with the right-facing panel placed just a few inches in from the right-hand edge of the display. The design keeps all of the ports accessible, and the open design makes it substantially easier to reach the downward-facing ports in back.

On the right-facing panel, you will find one HDMI port, a single USB port, and component and composite video inputs. On the downward-facing panel, you'll find an additional three HDMI ports (including one with ARC support), for a total of four, which is a generous number for this price range.

The design keeps all of the ports accessible, and it's easy to reach the downward-facing ports in back.

There are outputs for digital surround sound and analog stereo sound, along with an RF connector for coax input. That feature was absent from Vizio's 2017 TVs, and its presence here makes the new Vizio a lot easier to recommend to anyone with a TV antenna, so this set should appeal to cord cutters.

MORE: The Best Streaming Video Services for Cord Cutters

An Ethernet port is there for wired internet connectivity, and the TV has 802.11ac Wi-Fi for wireless networking.

Performance

For a reasonable price, the E65 manages to offer a lot of the features you want in a 4K TV, including broad HDR support that includes both the standard HDR10 and HLG formats, but also Dolby Vision. The 65-inch display is reasonably bright and clear, with strong color reproduction and clarity.

On scenes from Spider-Man: Homecoming, the E65 not only produced vivid colors like Spider-Man's red and blue suit and the orange Staten Island Ferry, but it also handled darker scenes fairly well. A showdown between hero and villain in a dark warehouse managed to be appropriately shadowy while still providing good color to both Spider-Man and the Vulture.

MORE: Best Cheap 4K TVs (Under $500), Ranked from Best to Worst

Much of this performance can be attributed to the color gamut the display produces. In our testing, the E65 produced 99.2 percent of the Rec. 709 broadcast color standard. That score lands squarely between results from competitors like the TCL 6 Series 65-inch Roku TV (99.9) and the RCA 65-inch Roku 4K TV (98.5), but frankly, the differences between any two sets scoring above 99 percent are hard to detect without lab equipment.

Vizio 65-Inch E Series Benchmarks

    Color Gamut (Percentage, Higher Is Better)Color Accuracy (Delta-E Rating, Lower Is Better)Max Brightness (Nits, Higher Is Brighter)
Vizio 65-inch E-Series E65-F199.21.4366
TCL 6 Series 65-inch Roku TV (65R617)99.91.1607
RCA 65-inch Roku 4K TV98.51.6275

Color accuracy is the other key component of picture quality, and the E65 had an excellent Delta-E rating of 1.4 (closer to zero is better). That makes this set one of the more accurate TVs you can get for under a thousand dollars. Again, the color accuracy seems to track right along with the price; the more expensive TCL 6-Series did slightly better (1.1), and the slightly less expensive RCA Roku TV did slightly worse (1.6). In actual viewing, you might see some slightly oversaturated shades of blue, but on the whole, color was highly accurate.

An unexpected aspect of the E65 is the inclusion of full-array backlighting and local dimming, features that are often reserved for more-expensive sets. The benefits of local dimming include deeper black levels and brighter highlights, making a set great for HDR content, but the best performance comes from several tightly focused dimming zones. The E65 has 12, and smaller sizes in the E-Series (up to 55 inches) have only 10. Compare that with Vizio's much more expensive 65-inch P-Series Quantum, which has 192 zones, and you'll have a better idea of how much Vizio scaled down this feature to keep the set within the midrange price where the E65 is targeted.

The backlight performance is pretty good for a basic set, but the E65 still has some issues with light blooms caused by imprecise backlight dimming. In heavily shadowed scenes from Blade Runner 2049, unwanted halos of light frequently interrupted the deep black shadows.

The E-Series' full-array backlighting and local dimming enable deeper black levels and brighter highlights, making this set great for HDR content.

The TV comes ready for 4K gaming, but don't expect expanded color support or HDR without some extra work. When we connected our Xbox One X, the TV automatically supported 4K resolution at 60 hertz, but 10-bit color and HDR gameplay were not supported. To get that added support, you'll need to adjust the input settings for whichever HDMI port is used to connect your game console, and enable HDMI 2.0 functionality. Where so many manufacturers enable these features by default, it's irritating to have to wade through settings menus for what should be standard functionality.

Audio

The E65 is outfitted with a pair of 10-watt speakers, which offer passable volume levels, but they may not get as loud as you expect when you turn the set up. In a climactic fight scene from Spider-Man: Homecoming, the mix of dialogue, sound effects and soundtrack music came through clearly.

With no subwoofer, the E65 doesn't produce much bass. On Daft Punk's "Around the World," the pronounced, bass-heavy beat lacked the heavy thumping quality it should have had.

For fuller, richer sound, we'd definitely recommend pairing the E65 with a soundbar to add volume and bass.

Smart Features

Vizio's SmartCast operating system is a blend of great features and limited capabilities. As smart TV platforms go, SmartCast has an extremely limited number of locally installed apps, with only 22 available. However, there are a lot more apps and pieces of content you can access via the TV's built-in Chromecast functionality.

Included on the TV are several popular subscription apps, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube TV. You also get a handful of free streaming services, like YouTube, Crackle, Xumo and Pluto TV, as well as a Vizio-branded app called WatchFree.

Vizio's SmartCast has only 22 built-in apps, but you can access more via the TV's built-in Chromecast functionality.

The WatchFree app repackages streaming channels from Pluto TV, giving you several channels of movies, news and indie content presented linearly; you'll get what's on when it's on, and you won't be able to fast-forward, rewind or skip ads. The biggest problem with the app is simply that it pulls all of its content straight from Pluto TV, which is already installed on the TV.

MORE: Best Smart Speakers

The one feature that we wish the E-Series TV had is voice interaction. When you see sets from LG and Samsung, and even TCL's Roku sets, offering voice search and control, the lack of that functionality on the Vizio feels like an omission. As with the use of Chromecast to provide broader app support, you can still get voice control by pairing the TV with a Google Home or an Amazon Echo. The E65 is compatible with both.

Remote Control

Vizio's remote control is comfortable to hold thanks to a curved profile, and it does a decent job of letting you navigate through both smart TV menus and live TV channels with its square directional pad and standard channel controls. However, the design mounts the buttons flush with the body of the remote and has no backlighting to make it easier to use in darkened environments.

It's not the most exciting design around, but it gets the job done. In fact, our only substantial complaint with the design is the prominent placement of six preprogrammed app buttons. These controls provide instant access to popular and promoted services, specifically Amazon Prime Video, Crackle, iHeartRadio, Netflix, Vudu and Xumo. The placement of these buttons makes it a little harder to ignore these controls than on other remote controls.

Bottom Line

The Vizio 65-inch E-Series E65-F1 SmartCast TV manages to be a very solid value for a 4K TV, offering great picture quality and premium touches like local dimming and Dolby Vision support, all for a fairly affordable price. Vizio's SmartCast smart TVs may not be for everyone, with their mobile-first approach to apps and lack of built-in voice interaction, but if those aren't deal breakers, the E65 is a pretty great buy.

If you can afford it, though, it's worth stepping up to the TCL 6 Series 65-inch Roku TV. For that set's $999 price, you definitely get better picture quality, a better backlight with more dimming zones and a much wider selection of apps. But overall, the Vizio E65-F1 is a good 4K TV value.

Credit: Tom's Guide

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