Vizio V5-series review: Affordable, but with middling performance

As with all its smart TVs, Vizio’s V-series brings the SmartCast interface to the table. It’s best in show when it comes to effectively melding entertainment content from disparate sources (over-the-air, streaming, etc.). It also synergizes nicely with the company’s minimalist remote, which now supports voice commands. 

The V5-series specifically is also relatively affordable. The 55-inch-class, model V555-J evaluated here retails for just $500.  Alas, its image quality seems off compared to the V-series I reviewed earlier this year (that was the model V505-H19). This is largely due to screen uniformity—or the lack thereof.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart TVs, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

Design and specs

TVs in the 2021 V-series are attractive devices with thin bezels wrapped around 60Hz, 10-bit, 4K UHD panels using old-school color technology and full array backlighting. In other words, there are no local dimming zones. The 55-inch V5-series model I tested weighed in at around 30 pounds and is approximately 3.5-inches at it’s thickest. It can hang on a wall with a 300 x 200mm VESA mount. 

One area where the entire V-series shines is in its support of legacy outboard video equipment: You’ll find composite/component video inputs as well as RCA audio jacks (in and out). There are modern ports aplenty, of course, including digital optical (Toslink) out, coax for connecting an over-the-air antenna or a cable/satellite TV set-top box, and ethernet. Three HDMI ports are provided, with one actually supporting the newer audio standard, eARC. (The V505 only supported ARC. Click on this link for an explanation of the differences between ARC and eARC.) A single USB port is included for streaming from a mass storage device. 

The V555-J supports all the major flavors of HDR, including Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG, and even HDR10+. This generation also gets Bluetooth 5.0 support, while wireless networking remains at the Wi-Fi 4 level (dual-band 802.11n). Don’t fret, that’s more than sufficient for TV use. 

Interface and remote

The channel guide is the best feature of Vizio’s SmartCast user interface, which of course displays cable and over-the-air content, but also incorporates Vizio-curated content and all the most important streaming services.

The big players appear on the SmartCast home screen—Apple TV+, Netflix, Hulu, the Disney Channel, et al—and it takes very few clicks from there to switch inputs or navigate to the TV’s settings menu or anywhere else you wish to go.

v5 smartcast and remote Vizio

Vizio’s SmartCast interface does an efficient job melding content offerings with access to the TV’s inputs and settings.

The voice remote shown below is nicely minimalist and works well with the SmartCast interface. Functionality is intuitively split between the remote and the onscreen UI, putting it on par with the Roku OS interface and remote, and far more efficient than Samsung’s One Remote/SmartHub combo. 

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