If you have a little bit of extra to spend on a TV, you probably won’t be looking for any TVs made by VIZIO because VIZIO TVs are known to be low-priced but very reasonable for the features offered. But that doesn’t mean that VIZIO should be out of the circle of consideration when it comes to the midrange category of TVs. VIZIO’s strategy is to corner the entry-level market with their E-series and have a separate M-series where the TVs in this lineup boast better picture quality while keeping the price competitive. The VIZIO M422i-B1 is a testament to that as it indeed offers some enhanced technologies to boost the image quality but only costs $100 more than its 2014 E-series counterpart.
Stunning is the best word to describe this fine 42-inch display. Thin bezels is something you would expect from a modern TV but not exactly from one in the $500 category. An 8 mm bezel is what the M422i-B1 brings to the table and it is an amazing feat since the previous generation models had a bezel that was 20 percent thicker. VIZIO’s own E-series feature models that have pretty thin bezels too but the bottom bezel was thicker. With the VIZIO M422i-B1, the bezel on the bottom is also thin but you can clearly see the VIZIO logo on the bottom right corner of the display slightly sticking out. This is a unique placement of the logo and makes the TV look a bit more special. It also features a metal base and stand adding a little bit of premium feel to this rather affordable display.
One of the other benefits of going for an M-series VIZIO TV like the M422i-B1 is that you get a standard selection of ports with 4 HDMI inputs. Many of today’s TVs feature multiple USB ports so a peripheral and a storage device can be plugged in but the VIZIO M422i-B1 opted for just 1 USB port. Newbies should have no trouble making the proper connections because the back features comprehensive labels and even indicates that the HDMI ports offer the best quality compared to the also existing component and composite ports.
The M-series is all about performance so the features are pretty much in-line with VIZIO’s budget E-series for the most part and that is fine because people may not want to pay extra premiums on features and other bloat that they won’t use. For VIZIO, not cluttering things with features seems to be working out well as the M422i-B1 continues the tradition of incorporating a minimal interface for the VIZIO Internet Apps Plus experience. That cool “V” button on the remote control instantly brings up a small dock of tiles without disturbing the current show, movie or program. From there, launching the app you like is a simple as launching any app on a computer or mobile device. The only difference is that you have to use the remote control navigate and it can feel slow-paced although a bit faster than VIZIO’s entry-level TVs.
On the upside, the remote control does have a rather nifty keyboard on the other side of the remote that helps with the text entry. Now exclusive to the M-series, the keyboard went through some interesting changes. VIZIO decided to axe the game controls in favor of larger keys to make entering text even simpler. This was a good move because let’s face it, you probably won’t use the M422i-B1 to play games offered by VIZIO’s store. Gaming consoles and PCs connected to the TV do a far better job and have better controllers. It is also cool to see the keyboard backlit to improve visibility in darker rooms. The front of the remote also features shortcut buttons so you can launch Amazon, Netflix or M Go very quickly.
Going back to VIZIO Internet Apps Plus, the VIZIO M422i-B1 also features a full screen Smart TV interface which you can see by pressing the “V” button twice while watching a TV program. This interface is a lot like the dock layout with the main difference being that you can see all the apps installed on the TV and there are more rows of tiles for easier management. Plus there are tabs so you can easily look for other apps to install on the M422i-B1 and get a preview of them even before you decide to have them permanently installed.
The picture quality of the M422i-B1 can be seen as average if you compare it with some of the competing lower midrange models. This brings back the argument of getting your money’s worth. But to the untrained eye, the VIZIO M422i-B1 isn’t all that bad especially compared to the E-series model because of things like the 14 Active LED zones for local dimming which improve contrast and black levels and Active Pixel Tuning which helps with the overall picture accuracy. The trick to getting that lasting impression is to tweak certain options like the Black Detail and aforementioned Active Pixel Tuning. Outside of the defaults, you get better image quality. Plus, there are plenty of picture modes to try out just in case you have special tastes. Clear Action 720 is another M-series exclusive which is basically VIZIO’s way of boasting 240 Hz refresh rate for smooth high-action visuals. Using apps on the M422i-B1 also feels snappier than the entry-level VIZIO models so the M-series may be worth considering too if you intend to use different apps often.
Coming up with a $529.99 price tag for a 42-inch TV with good image quality and enticing Smart TV features is something that only VIZIO can pull out of the bag. But VIZIO made some interesting sacrifices to hit that sweet spot. 3D capabilities are absent so you’ll have to look elsewhere if you have a huge 3D Blu-ray collection. The speakers are not so powerful either but VIZIO does make sound bars too. But these minor things don’t change the fact that the VIZIO M422i-B1 is an excellent deal and it makes the 42-inch E-series model a recommendation only for people that really need the $100 savings.
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