Sunday, June 16, 2024

Vizio P-Series Quantum X TV Review: This Television Is Heaven

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1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
3 – Strongly Flawed Design
4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
5 – Acceptably Imperfect
6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $2999

Josh Hendrickson
In theory, an 85-inch TV shouldn’t impress me all that much. I have a 100-inch screen in my basement and a 120-inch screen in my living room. But from the moment I put Vizio’s 85-inch P-Series Quantum X P85QX-J01 TV on my wall, I haven’t been able to stop looking at it. It’s just so dang good.

Here’s What We Like
It’s gargantuan in size
Absolutely stunning colors
Almost as bright as the sun

And What We Don’t
Expensive (for good reason)
Full screen ads are obnoxious
Occasional green screen issues with PS5

That’s not to say this is a perfect Vizio P-Series Quantum X P85QX-J01 (Vizio P85 from here on out) TV, of course. I do have complaints—but I’d categorize them as minor. And that’s good because, at nearly $3,000, this must be a near-perfect TV that leaves you in awe every time you turn it on. And let me tell you, Vizio delivered.

Specs (as reviewed)

Display Size: 85-inches (84.5″ diagonal)
Resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160)
HDMI Ports: 4x HDMI 2.1, eARC
Local Dimming: Yes, up to 210 zones
Refresh Rate: 120Hz
Gaming: Pro-Gaming Engine with AMD Freesync
Wi-Fi: 802.11n
Smart Home Integration: Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit
Start TV OS: SmartCast with Voice Remote
Casting: Apple AirPlay 2, Google Cast
VESA Mount: 400×400
Weight: 102.51 lbs. with stand; 100.75 without

Design and Remote: The Same But Bigger
My dresser is large, but this TV is larger. Josh Hendrickson
Have you seen a Vizio TV lately? Then as far as design goes, you’ve seen this one. But bigger. Like a lot bigger. Like someone took the excellent 65-inch P Series, grabbed it by the corners, and stretched. That’s not a bad thing, though; if something ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

After all, you still get the epically thin bezels around the entire Vizio P85. That’s an improvement over other models, which have three “bezel-less” sides and a bottom chin. The Voice remote also makes its way to this television, and it’s as fine a remote as you can hold. And if you like the idea of TV feet with multiple positions to theoretically support a sound bar (yeah, you’ll want one), then you’ll be glad to know this model includes that same stand design.

At least, well, in theory. The Vizio P85 is so incredibly large that it requires feet placed much farther apart than other models. Because I already have a 120-inch projector screen in my living room, I brought the Vizio 85-inch into my bedroom. Admittedly that’s ridiculous. But to add to that ridiculousness, this is the first TV I’ve ever brought into my home that couldn’t sit on my wide dresser. The feet were farther apart than my dresser. And that’s well over 60 inches wide. Initially, I had to bring a minifridge into my bedroom and place it next to my dresser to hold the TV. It’s ridiculous in all the best ways.

You’ll need a hefty wall mount for this big guy.
Of course, if I had left a minifridge in my bedroom, my wife would have killed me. So I hung this TV on a wall, thanks to its VESA compatibility. Now, you’ll need a heavy-duty mount to accomplish that and probably some friends. I hung up the TV with my wife, and let me tell you—we almost died. This TV weighs 100 pounds and is spread across a surface nearly the size of a Queen mattress. Haning it is not for the faint of heart, and I’m not sure I could convince my wife to do it again.

But overall, when it comes to “giant slab on your wall,” it’s hard not to like what Vizio is doing here. Especially the placement of HDMI ports, more companies should follow Vizio’s lead. I wish the eARC HDMI port (number 3 in the list) supported 120 Hz for surround systems. But if you’re going to make us choose, I’d rather have this setup than share the eARC port with one of the two 120 Hz capable ports.

And while we’re mentioning the design, I’ll bring up the speakers. Vizio slotted backfiring speakers that aim straight at the wall on the P85. Like every other modern TV, they are, at best OK. You won’t get thumping bass from them or even anything immersive. They’re fine for binging a comedy but not a good choice for catching the latest Marvel film. You’ll want a soundbar, or better yet, a surround sound system, to make the most of this giant display.

SmartCast Is Improving All The Time
I generally judge a TV’s OS by how quickly I want to plug a Roku stick into one of its HDMI ports. And I’m happy to say that generally, with SmartCast, I don’t want to. Nearly all the apps I want are available, with SyFy being one of the few exceptions, and it plays well with those apps too. Whether I’m watching HBO Max, Netflix, or Plex, I’ve never seen a sign of stutter or slowdown. Everything works.

The voice commands you get with the remote are surprisingly good, though I rarely use the feature. It’s a nice option, and I won’t complain, but talking to my TV (specifically the remote) will never stop feeling weird. Thankfully Vizio recently added a search option in the SmartCast interface, negating any need to use voice controls.

My complaints about SmartCast remain the same for now. First, there’s how you install and navigate apps. Every app that Vizio offers is automatically installed in one long row. The best you can do to make that better is rearrange them so the apps you want are first in line and the apps you’ll never use are last (I’m looking at you, CourtTV). All told, there are 125 apps and counting, and there’s got to be a better way to handle them.

You can get to an app catalog, but it’s just a list of the stuff already installed broken into categories. It’s not helpful. The good news is that a reliable source tells me that Vizio is working on making the app experience better than it is now, and I can’t wait.

A Display That Just Won’t Quit
Which Studio Ghibli movie is best, and why is it Howl’s Moving Castle?
As I have mentioned, I already have two screens far larger than the Vizio P85. As such, I honestly didn’t expect to be that impressed by an 85-inch screen on the wall. Thanks to a 120 HZ display, it should be better for gaming than my projectors. But for everything else, bigger is always better right? Wrong.

The Vizio 85-Inch P85QX-J01 is stunning. According to Vizio, the TV can reach 3,000 nits, and though other reviewers have confirmed the stat, I don’t need special tools to know it’s true. This is one of the biggest, brightest, most beautiful displays you could ever want. Looking at this TV is like staring at a beautiful work of art that just so happens to be backlit by the sun.

As I already mentioned, we have the TV in our bedroom. It’s so dang bright using default settings that at night you can’t tell the difference when we turn off the lights in the room and the TV is on. On one occasion, the thing lit up our house so well that it woke my eight-year-old up in his room, and he asked us to either close our door or turn off the lights in the room. But our lights were off—it was the TV alone.

If your preferred TV room (be it a living room, entertainment room, or wherever) is a sunlit nightmare that washes out most televisions, this is the one for you. It’ll easily stand up to even the brightest of rooms. For our sake, we switched away from the default settings to the Calibrated Dark preset. That preset not only looks better overall, but it’s much less bright. But even with that, and even after adjusting the game video settings to be darker, my wife must wear a high-quality eye mask to sleep if I stay up late watching TV or playing video games.

And I’ve been doing that way too much lately. In the past, we might have stayed in the living room and watched on the absolute largest screen in our home. And we still do that if it’s an epic movie that calls for fantastic sound. But most of the time, we switch to the bedroom TV as we wind down for the night. And then I stay up even later playing video games.

As a video game TV, this is amazing. It’s ginormous, but unlike my projectors, it has proper support for my Xbox Series X and PS5 (though more on the PS5 later). Whether I’m playing Spider-Man: Miles Morales on my PS5 or Rocket League and Halo on my Xbox, everything is better on this TV thanks to its gaming engine and variable refresh rate support. I’ve never noticed the slight latency on my projectors before when playing Rocket League, but it runs so smoothly on the Vizio P85 that I can’t unsee the issue with my projector now.

Yes, it’s not an OLED display. But the blacks on this screen get incredibly dark thanks to the P85’s 792 local dimming zones. And OLED screens rarely (if ever) get as bright as the P85 can, so it’s a trade-off on which tech you want to buy. At least with this expensive TV, you don’t have to worry about burn-in.

But I Do Have Some Complaints
This happened again while taking review photos.
I’d love to end the review right there on a high note of how glorious the P85 looks, but I can’t. Unfortunately, there are a few problems with this TV, and generally, you’ll find those issues across the Vizio lineup.

First up, we can’t escape the price. At $3,000 (or more if you go by MSRP), it’s not an affordable TV. There’s just no way around that fact. But frankly, that’s fine. This is not meant to be a cheap television—it’s a bombastic, in-your-face, giant TV designed to leave you awestruck. You just aren’t going to get a 4K 85-inch 120hz next-gen gaming-capable TV for less than what Vizio is offering here. If you want an affordable TV, there are plenty out there. The P85 is for someone who wants to drop a pretty penny on a stunning television.

Moving on to things you’ll find on all Vizio’s, let’s talk about the ads. SmartCast, like most smart TV interfaces, is replete with ads. Across the screen, you’ll find scrolling (muted, thankfully) videos from various services like Disney+.  That’s fine, I guess; it’s easy to ignore. But occasionally, when you hit the home button, SmartCast will interrupt you with a full-screen giant ad with no obvious closing method. You have to hit the right button on the remote (back), which may be difficult if the lights are turned off, and you’re unfamiliar with the remote. It’s obnoxious. At least it doesn’t happen often.

Josh Hendrickson
Ads on smart TV interfaces are nothing new. But the general logic has been, “you get this $500 TV at a discount, or this $40 streaming stick for super cheap in exchange for ads.” Let me remind you that the P85 is $3,000. And it feels wrong to get bombarded with full-screen ads that interrupt what you’re doing on ANY television, let alone one this expensive. I wish Vizio would consider turning them off for its top-of-the-line TVs.

Finally, as I mentioned in my Vizio P-Series 65-inch review, there is an ongoing green screen issue with PS5. I am glad to say this situation is improved. When I tested the 65-inch model, I’d frequently turn on or switch to my PS5 only to encounter a giant green screen. The only option was to unplug the TV.

After several updates, I see the problem far less frequently. I’ve narrowed down at least one reproducible scenario—switching directly from the Xbox Series X to PS5 will cause the green screen. Few people own both, so most people won’t encounter that green screen instance. And Vizio tells me it plans to roll out a fix for that scenario soon. I am also seeing it occasionally happen when simply turning on my PS5. But it’s not every time, or even often, and I can’t figure out what happens differently in the instances that I do see it. But thankfully, opening Settings, heading to the Admin menu, and choosing to reboot the TV now clears the green screen.

It’s nowhere near as annoying as it used to be, and it seems like it may be solved soon. That’s good work from Vizio. These issues are minor, but they do add up or occur often enough to warrant mentioning.

If You Can Afford It, Buy It
It always comes down to this: “Would I buy the Vizio P85 now that I’ve had it in my home to test?” And that’s a tricky question to answer. At the moment, the only reason the answer is “no” is simply because I already have two bigger screens in my home. But let’s set aside for a moment and pretend I didn’t. I’ve easily spent more on my home theater displays than the P85 costs.

And now that I’ve gone hands-on with this enormous, glorious, beautiful TV? Absolutely in a heartbeat, I’d buy it. I’d probably have to fight to convince my wife, who usually would prefer to spend $500 or less on a TV. But I think I can get here there, especially now that she’s spent time with it too.

Because here’s the thing: I have two displays in my home that are bigger than the P85. And yet I still end up using this one often. Some of that is the location in my bedroom. But it’s also a better gaming display. Not to mention anything with a dark scene instantly looks better on the P85 than my projector setups.

Vizio’s P85 is nothing short of spectacular. If you would never spend $3,000 on TV, then I’m not sure I could convince you to try it. But if you’re willing to spend more on luxury, this TV should be on your shortlist. It’s spectacular.

Rating: 9/10

Price: $2999

Here’s What We Like

It’s gargantuan in size
Absolutely stunning colors
Almost as bright as the sun

And What We Don’t

Expensive (for good reason)
Full screen ads are obnoxious
Occasional green screen issues with PS5

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