The Vizio V-Series 50-inch 4K HDR Smart TV (V505-G9) is a smart TV for the budget-conscious, delivering 4K picture and smart functionality for well under $500. While not advertised as part of Vizio's SmartCast lineup, it still offers all of the features that make the SmartCast line enticing, like built-in Google Chromecast capability, a selection of locally installed apps, and a dedicated channel of free streaming content. Besides that, it's also a pretty good TV, with 4K picture, broad HDR support and a relatively attractive design. Overall, this Vizio is one of the best cheap TVs you can buy.
Editor's Note: (April 30, 2019) Vizio has reached out to let us know that the V-Series V505-G9 does, in fact, support Dolby Atmos sound signal for apps and media players. If you've got an Atmos-ready soundbar, you'll get the full Dolby Atmos experience.
Vizio V-Series 50-inch (V505-G9) Specs
|Resolution||3840 x 2160|
|HDR||HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision|
|Ports||3 HDMI, 1 USB|
|Smart TV Software||Vizio SmartCast with Chromecast|
|Size||44.1 x 25.6 x 2.4 inches [w/o stand]|
|Weight||21.3 pounds [w/o stand]|
While inexpensive TVs rarely have the same sleek stylings seen on their more premium counterparts, the V505-G9 has a fairly slim and stylish look for a more basic model. The bezels around the screen aren't as obtrusive as those seen on many of the inexpensive sets we've reviewed, and the overall construction is fairly sturdy for being all plastic.
Measuring 44.1 x 25.6 x 2.4 inches, the back of the TV cabinet has a tapered design, making it look less boxy than some budget TVs, and more in line with our favorites, like the TCL 43S517 Roku TV. The set weighs a manageable 21.3 pounds, and like the TCL, the cabinet is widest toward the bottom of the set to accommodate the TV's internal components.
The V505-G9 comes with a pair of plastic feet that are easily attached with a screwdriver, but the TV can also be hung on the wall, thanks to holes for a 200mm x 200mm VESA mount. However, the bulky base of the TV means it won't mount flush with the wall.
The V505-G9 may not offer a surplus of ports, but it should still do the job. On the back and side of the set are three HDMI ports (including one ARC-enabled port for connecting a soundbar), one USB 2.0 port, a coax connection (and tuner) for antenna and composite video input. For audio, there is an analog output and an optical SPDIF port for digital surround sound.
A built-in Ethernet port provides wired networking connection, but the set also has built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi. However, the Wi-Fi is the extent of the wireless options, with no Bluetooth for headphones and speakers.
The 50-inch Vizio is good, but not great, which should be expected at this price. The LCD panel offers good color and brightness, with a full-array LED backlight and support for HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR formats.
HDR performance is OK. A climactic nighttime battle in Spider-Man: Homecoming was filled with glowing flames against a dark night sky. But while the highlights shone with higher brightness, shadowy details were harder to make out. A black suit against a dark night sky was difficult to distinguish, and the crushed blacks frequently left darker scenes looking muddled.
Our lab testing showed that the LCD panel produced 96.7 percent of the Rec 709 color space, which falls short of the 100 percent or better we'd like to see – the TCL 43S517 Roku TV and the LG UK6300 43-Inch 4K TV both did better at 99.8 percent – but it is an improvement over other inexpensive sets, like the Polaroid 55-inch 55T7U (94.8 percent).
Color accuracy is another aspect to picture quality, and one where the Vizio did pretty well. When measured with our X-Rite i1 Pro spectrophotometer and SpectraCal's CalMAN Ultimate professional calibration software, the V505-G9 had a Delta-E rating of 2.2 (using the TV's calibrated mode). A score of zero is perfect. That's not quite as good as the TCL 43S517 Roku TV (1.7), but it's better than the LG UK6300 (3.6) and miles ahead of other sets that had Delta-E ratings of 3 or higher, indicating wider deviation from the colors that should be displayed on the TV.
The V505-G9 did exhibit some minor issues handling small moving details. Scrolling credits, for example, sizzled as they moved across the screen. It's not a noticeable issue during the actual viewing of a movie – we only saw it in the credits to Spider-Man, not the movie itself – but in certain circumstances it will be impossible to ignore. Turning up the motion smoothing helped a bit, but the problem never fully disappeared.
When we connected our Xbox One X game console to test 4K gaming, we saw that both 10-bit color and Dolby Vision were supported, but 4K gaming was limited to lower frame rates; it would support 24 Hz gaming, but not 60 Hz, despite the TV having a 60Hz refresh rate.
The sound quality from the V505-G9 is pretty good for a TV with only two 10-watt speakers, offering decent clarity and loudness. With no subwoofer, low-end sounds are hampered, and there was some clipping when the volume is dialed up to higher volumes.
Oddly enough, once you've turned up the speakers to around 75%, you won't get much more loudness out of them, even as you creep closer to 100% volume. The sound gets only get incrementally louder. The bottom line is that the sound is fine, but you might want a cheap soundbar if you demand more audio oomph. If you want an even better experience, pick a soundbar with Dolby Atmos support, as the V-Series will handle the higher-end format with ease.
Though the V-Series model line isn't billed as part of the SmartCast family, it still comes with Vizio's SmartCast operating system, and delivers all of the benefits (and irritations) of that platform.
Current Vizio TVs support a handful of local apps, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube TV, along with free streaming services, like YouTube, Crackle, Xumo and Pluto TV. Vizio also offers a dedicated free streaming option called WatchFree, which delivers more than 100 channels of linear TV over the internet. While this is mostly a repackaged version of Pluto TV, it is convenient to be able to jump to free channels just by switching to a new input instead of digging through the app menu.
Although we wish that there were more apps that could be installed on the set, Vizio does open up a huge number of potential apps by including a built-in Google Chromecast. That functionality lets you share content from a huge number of phone and tablet apps, and that flexibility makes it a great choice for cord-cutters who aren't put off by the need for a second device.
You can also add voice control to the V505-G9 by pairing the TV with a Google Home or an Amazon Echo. The TV has no built-in microphones or voice assistant, but that's not a feature we see regularly offered in TVs at this price.
The Vizio remote control is the same basic model you'll see on any of the company's other TVs, which is both good and bad. The oval candy bar of a remote has buttons for navigating through menus and apps, number buttons for channel input and up/down controls for channel and volume.
Up at the top of the remote are six dedicated buttons that give you one-touch access to popular apps, like Amazon Prime Video, Crackle, iHeartRadio, Netflix, Vudu and Xumo. These preprogrammed buttons are nice if you happen to want the apps they offer, but if not, they're essentially ads to ignore – Vizio has deals with each to get that prime-branded access.
The buttons are mounted flush with the surface of the control, making it hard to navigate the controls by feel. We'd like to see something like backlit buttons or glowing letters on the remote – since it will be hard to see what's what in a room darkened for movie night – but these are problems we've had with Vizio remotes in every price range.
The Vizio V-Series 50-inch 4K HDR Smart TV (V505-G9) manages to come through with a surprising amount of capability for a midtier 4K TV. As a TV, it has good color and decent HDR support, with capable built-in audio. The addition of Vizio's SmartCast software, which includes apps, free content, built-in Chromecast and compatibility with Amazon and Google smart speakers, makes it a full-featured smart TV as well.
While our top pick for TVs under $500 remains the TCL 43S517 Roku Smart 4K TV, thanks to a slightly better feature set – it has the same Dolby Atmos support as well as Roku TV's oft-omitted voice-search capability – the Vizio V-Series (V505-G9) is a close second. If you want an affordable 4K smart TV with plenty of great features and strong performance, the Vizio is a solid bargain.