Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity - Best of Awards 2018
VIZIO ups the HDR ante by adding 1000 nits brightness and greater coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut to its already-excellent P-series 65” Ultra HD television.

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television

The P65-F1 also supports Dolby Vision, HDR10, and Hybrid Log Gamma in addition to Ultra HD resolution and extended color. You can expect rich and saturated color to accompany the latest Ultra HD/HDR content. A full-array backlight employs 100 individually-addressable dimming zones to provide maximum contrast with bright whites and deep blacks that retain fine shadow detail. VIZIO SmartCast taps into hundreds of content streams making cord-cutting a breeze. Users of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant can control their P65-F1 with simple voice commands. An all-new design features a bezel-free image on three sides.


VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television

  • Dolby Vision, HDR10, and Hybrid Log Gamma support
  • Full-array LED backlight with 100 dimming zones
  • 1000 nits claimed brightness in HDR mode
  • DCI-P3 color gamut
  • HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 content protection
  • Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant control
  • All-new three-sided bezel-less design

It is a universal constant that displays improve with each new model year. Now that HDR is part of the landscape, manufacturers are striving to solidify this new standard into something that will truly make an impact on image quality. It isn’t a gimmick like 3D, but a real enhancement that has tangible benefits when done correctly.

For the past two years, HDR has commonly come in one flavor, HDR10. It’s found on every Ultra HD Blu-ray as well as some streamed content. It makes a definite improvement in perceived contrast with the capability to provide super-bright highlights and deep blacks with fine shadow detail. But what of Dolby Vision? It makes things even better by tailoring itself to the capabilities of each individual display. Rather than applying a fixed tone map like HDR10, it reconfigures itself based on what display its shown on. It was the first HDR standard to appear, but it has been slower to catch on with content. VIZIO has supported it since the 2015 Reference Series and it was added to the P Series in 2016.

Today, I’ll be looking at VIZIO’s latest P-series Ultra HD television, the P65-F1. It’s a 65” panel with a full-array local-dimming backlight and, you guessed it, Dolby Vision. Finally, I’ll have a display that’s fully compatible with the OPPO UDP-203 that’s been in my system for well over a year. HDR10 is great but I’ve been dying to see what Dolby Vision can do. And as it turns out, many new UHD Blu-ray titles feature the technology.

VIZIO always provides amazing quality and accuracy for the money. I’ve never been anything less than impressed with their ability to deliver high value. The 2018 P65-F1 adds higher brightness to its HDR presentation and new color filters that deliver more of the DCI-P3 gamut to an already-impressive feature list, I can’t wait to dive in. Let’s take a look.

Panel type:

Vertical Alignment (VA) LCD


100-zone full-array white LED with local dimming


3840 x 2160 pixels

Effective refresh rate:


Color depth:

10-bits (1.07 billion colors)

High Dynamic Range:

Dolby Vision, HDR10, Hybrid Log Gamma

Screen size:


Aspect ratio:

16:9 (1.78:1)

Input signal compatibility:

up to 3840×2160 @ 60Hz


10 watts x 2 speakers, simulated surround mode

Video inputs:

4 HDMI 2.0a w/HDCP 2.2, 1 HDMI 1.4, 1 component


1 optical out (DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1, PCM), 1 RCA out

Data inputs:

1 USB, 1 RJ-45, built-in Wi-Fi (802.11ac dual-band)

Power consumption:

231 watts

Dimensions w/stand:

57.01″W x 35.14″H x 11.81″D


55.12 pounds




One year




vizio p65-f1, ultra hd television, led tv, hdr, extended color, ultra hd, flat panel, Vizio TV Review 2018


VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television

Much has been said about what constitutes good and bad HDR. Here’s my take – you must have a full-array local dimming backlight to even come close to doing the standard justice. I’ve tested plenty of displays, projectors, and computer monitors that support HDR. But without a way to address individual parts of the image, the extra contrast they can muster is feeble at best. Only a zone-dimming (or OLED) panel can really render good HDR.

VIZIO has long been the value champion when it comes to full-array local-dimming (FALD) panels. For years they have offered at least 100 zones in their mid-priced TVs and the P65-F1 has precisely that many. If you want more, the P75 has 120. Additionally, there is a three-level option that controls the dynamic contrast algorithm. The same technology that makes HDR look fantastic on this TV can also be used for SDR content.

VIZIO has supported Dolby Vision in the P Series SmartCast models since 2016. This flavor of HDR alters content dynamically depending on the capabilities of each individual display. By contrast, HDR10 applies the same tone mapping regardless of the display its shown on. Dolby Vision is available on a growing number of Ultra HD Blu-ray titles and in some premium streamed content.

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television Closeup

The P65-F1 sports a new physical design that shrinks three sides of the bezel to almost nothing. The frame is flush-mounted so when the power’s off, all you see is a black panel with a narrow silver band across the bottom. The stand is minimalist as well, made from two small cast-aluminum pieces that are more solid than they appear. If you plan to wall-mount, 400mm VESA standard mount lugs are provided around back.


The P65-F1 is certainly attractive on the outside, but far more significant is what’s on the inside. I’ve already talked about HDR, and of course, it sports Ultra HD (3840×2160) resolution. The panel uses Vertical Alignment (VA) technology for high native contrast. Even without any help, it can manage about 5000:1. Extended color is included as well with coverage of most of the DCI-P3 gamut. It also hits a higher HDR brightness level than last year with a claimed 1000 nits.

Cord-cutters will enjoy the latest version of VIZIO’s SmartCast streaming interface. It offers all the major carriers like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and more. You can connect the P65-F1 directly to the internet via 802.11ac Wi-Fi, or a hard-wire through the Ethernet port.

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television Inputs

On the back left are five HDMI inputs, four of which support version 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 content protection. The remaining input is version 1.4 and also supports HDCP 2.2. A single component input is included for legacy analog sources. Audio is supported by two built-in 10-watt speakers, an optical output that supports DTS and Dolby Digital, and a stereo RCA output. HDMI 1 also allows ARC operation.

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Users who like talking to their devices will enjoy the P65-F1’s Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration. You can tell the TV to power up, change channels, adjust volume, change inputs, and control the transport of streamed sources. You also get Google ChromeCast Ultra which opens up the TV to thousands of additional apps.

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television Remote

For old-school users like me, VIZIO includes a traditional hand-held remote that is not backlit. It accesses the menu and all functions and has one-touch keys for six popular streaming services. Though the P65-F1 is CEC-enabled, it does not include transport buttons. You can also control the TV with a Google SmartCast app on your smartphone or tablet. And of course, basic commands can be spoken if you have an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant device within voice range.


Watching the latest content can be done with no physical connection at all if you want to do is stream. That works through either Wi-Fi or a hard-wired Ethernet port. If the content is Ultra HD with HDR, the P65-F1 can handle it. For physical sources like an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, just jack into one of the first four HDMI ports. You’ll need to access the menu and enable Full UHD color to make it fully compatible. 2160p 4:4:4 signals up to 60Hz will work at 8-bit color depth. For 12-bit, you’ll have to go with a 4:2:2 format. I connected my Accupel pattern generator and an OPPO UDP-203 UHD Blu-ray player with the latest Dolby Vision firmware installed.

When you turn on the P65-F1 for the first time, it asks a series of questions, then takes you to a Wi-Fi setup screen. My home network doesn’t have great signal strength and the VIZIO would not log into my router after several attempts. Luckily, when I came back a few hours later, it was working. I chalked it up to one of life’s curious tech mysteries.

Diving into the menu revealed the same comprehensive set of image controls I’ve seen in past VIZIO displays. There are six picture modes including Calibrated and Calibrated Dark. Both come quite close to SMPTE standards and require very little adjustment to achieve reference-level performance. Once you’ve dialed in the settings, you can save them to a new memory and call it whatever you wish. SDR and HDR modes can be calibrated individually as well.

The most important option in the More Picture menu is Xtreme Black Engine Pro. This is the local dimming control and it has three levels. For an instrumented calibration, it should be turned off while taking measurements. Once setup is complete, I settled on Medium as the best choice for SDR and High for HDR. The backlight has 100 adjustment steps which is great for those who appreciate precision. I chose 175 nits (around 50fL) as my peak level for SDR. In HDR mode, I maxed the slider at 100 and measured a 10% white window pattern at 883 nits.

The Color Tuner has all the color management and two-point white balance controls in one convenient screen. With a few tweaks of the RGB gain and bias controls, I achieved near-perfect grayscale. Color measured great by default and was improved slightly by a few changes to the hue and brightness fields. If you want to dive deeper, an 11-point white balance adjustment is available.

Other image improvers include judder and motion blur reduction. They add frames to 30Hz and 60Hz video respectively to help smooth motion up to the set’s effective 240Hz refresh rate. Higher settings produce a soap-opera effect so use them sparingly, or not at all as I did. You can also reduce blur with Clear Action which strobes the backlight between frames. While effective, it reduces overall brightness and some viewers may perceive flickering. Gamers will appreciate the Low Latency option which improves control response and input lag.

Each menu item includes a short explanation of its function at the bottom of the screen. You can also access the owner’s manual right on the TV. That’s something that should come with every video display and it shows VIZIO’s excellent attention to detail.

In Use

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television Movies

I adopted a worst-to-best approach for my content selection. Funny that the worst choice was the excellent Blu-ray transfer of Minority Report. I specifically wanted to see how the P65-F1 handled the extreme grain and soft look of this film. I let the OPPO player do the upscaling and dialed in the P65’s medium local dimming setting, making the picture quite enjoyable to watch. Color had just the right degree of monotonality while still allowing details to pop. Closeups of actors’ faces showed plenty of texture and grit while wider shots retained a good sense of object placement. Things in the foreground almost seemed to come out of the screen while backgrounds extended far into the distance.

Next up was Deadpool 2 in its Ultra HD version with HDR10. Here, I really appreciated the extra red hues which helped Wade’s dirty red suit look a little less dingy than its 1080p version. The fine pattern on its surface was much easier to see as well. During the prison battle scene, fast-moving objects and flames maintained high resolution and didn’t devolve into a blurry mass. I was impressed by the simulated surround sound coming from just two 10-watt speakers. While there isn’t a lot of bass, the soundstage is quite expansive, and some cues seem to come from behind. Dialog is very clear as well. I couldn’t turn the volume past 70 (out of 100) without distortion so you won’t be filling a large room with sound. But for an intimate space, the P65-F1’s built-in audio is more than adequate.

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television Movies

Dolby Vision is well-represented in Justice League. Perceived contrast is very high with a definite improvement over what I’ve seen from HDR10 material. Blacks are plasma-low with excellent detail and clear, bright highlights. Clarity is apparent too, not just due to the high pixel count but also the image’s depth and dimension. There is no question that Dolby Vision is better than HDR10 in the P65-F1’s case.

I was most mesmerized by Star Wars, The Last Jedi. I headed straight for the final battle scene and enjoyed shades of red one won’t see on a Rec.709 display. That, coupled with outrageous black levels, made for a most-memorable presentation. You won’t see this film look better outside a premium cinema. And even then, that super-expensive projector won’t render the blacks of this VIZIO. If any display makes one think about re-purchasing their entire movie collection on Ultra HD Blu-ray, it’s the P65-F1.

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television SmartCast

Spending a few hours browsing streamed content from Netflix, Amazon, and other carriers revealed a well-designed interface. VIZIO SmartCast places a series of icons on the screen that take you right to your favorite service, or you can press one of the six dedicated buttons on the remote. Quality ranges from fair to excellent and is completely dependent on compression levels and the speed of your internet connection. I had better results with a hard-wired interface as the Wi-Fi signal is weak in my theater space. If you have 100mbps service, you’ll have no trouble maintaining a good picture from most of the major services.

My final thoughts on the local dimming feature are that High offers the most contrast and best HDR image but there are occasional brightness shifts as the scene changes. You can eliminate this minor artifact by selecting Medium or Low but then, some of the picture’s depth is lost. For SDR content, Medium looks the best. Low is too dark, and High is too harsh. To recap, High dimming for HDR, Medium dimming for SDR.

On The Bench

To measure the P65-F1’s color accuracy, I placed an X-Rite i1 Pro Spectrophotometer directly in contact with the screen. Luminance readings were taken with a Spectracal C6 tri-stimulus colorimeter also in contact with the screen. Patterns were generated by an Accupel DVG-5000 and controlled with CalMAN, version 5.8.

To measure the panel’s native performance, Xtreme Black Engine Pro was turned off. Once calibration was complete, I turned it back on to its Medium setting. The calibration was performed in the TV’s Calibrated mode.

SDR Grayscale & Gamma Tracking

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television Grayscale, Pre-calibration

The P65-F1’s Calibrated mode is aptly-named as it comes quite close to meeting the D65 standard. Errors are slightly visible from 40% brightness and higher and gamma runs a bit light. This is no surprise as it comes from the factory set to 2.1. VA panels like this look better with a higher value like 2.2 or 2.4. This adds depth to the image and makes color appear more saturated. If you don’t wish to adjust the Color Tuner, I suggest bumping the gamma preset up to 2.4.

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television Grayscale, Post-calibration

A short time spent with the two-point grayscale control in the color tuner produces a perfect tracking chart. Errors are well below the visible point and only 10 and 20% are over 1dE. It doesn’t get better than that. The P65-F1 is capable of reference-level performance. With the gamma preset on 2.4, the luminance curve is a better fit for the panel’s capabilities. Once local dimming is re-engaged, the picture becomes even more contrasty thanks to the set’s 100 backlight zones.

SDR Color Gamut & Luminance

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television Color, Pre-calibration

There is no real fault here, the P65-F1’s color accuracy is excellent. All saturation points are in contact with the target box which represents 1dE, except for 100% red which is slightly over-saturated. Luminance levels are a bit above the neutral line but reasonably well-balanced. Only blue is a tad too high. These are minor points given the overall average error of 2.77dE.

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television Color Post-calibration

Changing the gamma preset pushes saturations a bit higher which is a good thing visually. I tweaked a few parameters in the CMS to line up the secondary colors and balance luminance levels a little better. The average error is now just 1.5dE. Again, this is reference-level performance. I’m anxious to see if the same thing happens in HDR mode.

HDR Tests

To simulate an HDR10 signal, I placed an HD Fury Integral into the connection path between the Accupel generator and the display. This allows me to measure HDR grayscale, luminance, and color accuracy using a special workflow in CalMAN 5.8. All readings were taken with the C6 colorimeter placed in contact with the screen.

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television HDR Grayscale Pre-calibration

The P65-F1 makes its full set of calibration controls available in HDR mode. You can change the gamma preset to lighten or darken the presentation and adjust the grayscale and CMS options in the Color Tuner. Out-of-the-box, there is little to complain about. Grayscale tracking runs slightly blue, but the error is quite hard to see. The EOTF is a tad light but that too is difficult to spot. I can’t resist tweaking though. I know there’s a small gain to be had.

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television HDR Grayscale Post-calibration

I managed to improve grayscale tracking using just the two-point RGB controls. The EOTF tracking is now a tiny bit darker thanks to a gamma change to 2.4. That setting may be revisited when watching actual content. Not all material is created equal. Generally, when it looks too dark, you’ll want to lower the gamma setting a click or two. The P65-F1 is one of the most accurate displays I’ve measured recently for both SDR and HDR content.

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television HDR Rec.709 Within Rec.2020

Reference-level performance continues in the HDR color gamut test. The P65-F1 is clearly a DCI-P3 display but sometimes, Ultra HD material is mastered using Rec.709. It’s important that a TV render that gamut properly to avoid an overblown presentation. There is no issue here as all points are on or near their targets.

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television HDR DCI-P3 Within Rec.2020

The P65-F1 offers some of the best DCI color I’ve seen outside a professional monitor or a display equipped with a quantum-dot backlight. Not only are all inner color points on or close to target, the green and red primary come quite close to rendering the full gamut. I calculated the volume at 86.56% which is higher than any non-quantum-dot panel I’ve tested. Color me impressed!

Video Processing

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television Video Processing

Watching my test clips of 1080i interlaced video produced a couple of surprises. First, the P65-F1 is one of the rare displays that can lock onto 2:2 cadence video. Watching rock concerts will be a pleasure on this TV. But I was even more surprised at the chroma resolution fails in the 4:4:4 test. This is a common output format for Blu-ray players. I recommend setting your player to RGB mode, if it has one, and letting the player do the scaling. Though VIZIO has included an excellent de-interlacer here, the set’s scaler is a little weak. Other tests passed easily like the jaggies clip which showed no signs of ringing or anti-aliasing. The P65-F1 performs best when fed a 2160p signal.

Light Output & Contrast

VIZIO claims up to 1000 nits output in HDR mode and I nearly got there when measuring a 10% window pattern. My numbers were 883 nits peak, .0114 nit black, and 77,124:1 contrast with no clipping. You can hit the 1000-nit mark by turning on Black Detail and raising the contrast slider a bit, or by selecting the Vivid picture mode.
After calibration in SDR mode, with output set to 188 nits (54fL), I measured .0429 nit black for a native contrast ratio of 4392.7:1. This is typical performance for a VA panel. Turning on the local dimming improved things greatly. With no other settings changed, peak white was 179 nits, .0046 nit black, and 39,223.9:1 contrast.

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Maximum SDR output is found in the Vivid mode where I measured 476 nits peak, .0212 nit black, and 22,437.7:1 contrast. Some clipping of highlight and shadow detail occurs in this state.



Outside a premium OLED panel, the VIZIO P65-F1 offers some of the best picture quality currently available. Throw in a high value quotient and this TV is a homerun.

  • Clear, bright picture
  • Accurate out of the box for both SDR and HDR
  • Intuitive SmartCast streaming interface
  • Exceptional value
  • Solid build quality
Would Like To See
  • Backlit remote
  • Better scaling of low-res sources

Nine years ago, I purchased a Pioneer Elite 50” plasma TV for $2900. It still rocks my living room with nearly 40,000:1 contrast and super-accurate color. The VIZIO P65-F1 comes amazingly close to that level of picture quality for $1199. And it puts four times as many pixels on the screen with a wider color gamut and HDR. To say displays have come a long way since 2009 is to engage in understatement.

At the P65-F1’s level of performance, you’ll have to spend significantly more money to get, perhaps, one percent better. It is truly a 99% component, capable of matching numbers with the best displays while costing a whole lot less.

When showing the latest Ultra HD Blu-rays, it has few equals. It sports the best HDR I’ve seen to-date with rich color, excellent clarity, and tremendous image depth. If you just want the convenience of streaming without the distraction cable contracts or disc players VIZIO SmartCast delivers an intuitive and seamless experience. Just hook up power and internet and you’re set. Even the P65-F1’s built-in sound is impressive. For small rooms, the simulated surround mode delivers a wide soundstage and clear dialog.
If you’re shopping for a new TV, the P65-F1 should be on your short list. I can’t imagine a display delivering more for the money. It receives my highest recommendation.