If you are looking for a 70-inch TV or perhaps bigger, you better go for a 4K display. At least, that is the message that big TV manufacturers are conveying as their flagship models are now very large displays boasting ultra-high screen resolutions. The whole idea of 4K resolution could make a good handful of people skeptical especially if they are used to watching 1080p Blu-ray movies. But once you see that massive price tag (most likely more than $7,000 for a 70-inch model), you will immediately view that TV as a luxury item. But VIZIO wants to be the opposite by offering very large and affordable TVs with as few compromises as possible. The VIZIO M701d-A3R is one of the large TVs that strive to reach this goal and it looks like VIZIO could have a winner on its hands.
VIZIO came up with a unified design with its M-series starting with the 32-inch model going all the way up to the 80-inch model. All of the TVs in this series look great with a slim profile and very thin bezel. Larger models like the M701d-A3R have slightly thicker bezels but that shouldn’t ruin the experience because larger screens are best viewed at farther viewing distances making the bezel even less noticeable.
The bezel is thin at all sides leaving no room for a logo on the center of the bottom bezel. But VIZIO cleverly decided to add some thickness to the bottom right corner of the bezel and plant the logo there. As a result, the logo stands out uniquely in a non-distracting way.
The stand supporting the massive 70-inch screen aids in giving the TV a premium look. It has a metal finish and the rectangular frame approach makes the display look impressively elegant. Attaching the stand is easy and only requires 8 screws.
The VIZIO M701d-A3R features the modern connection inputs you would normally expect from a TV released in 2013. The 4 HDMI inputs should eliminate the need for a splitter or AV receiver unless you intend to set up a larger home theater system and/or want better audio quality. But you might feel constricted if you have a couple of older home theater components that don’t have HDMI ports. VIZIO made the odd move to make the composite and component inputs shared so you can either use one or the other.
The M701d-A3R is a “Smart TV” and just like any TV in this category, pressing a special button on the remote control will take you to a separate screen where you can enjoy these features and do things like access the Web. In this case, the button is the VIZIO logo but it has a different way of functioning. Pressing this button will pop out a small navigation bar on the bottom of the screen. Whatever content is still playing on TV will continue to play while you can scroll through the bottom navigation bar to pick the app you wish to launch. This is a nice uncluttered and friendly approach to showing the TV’s online capabilities. Some apps are preinstalled like Netflix and M-GO and it is immediately apparent as there are dedicated buttons on the remote for those streaming services. You can also find shortcuts that bring up the settings so you can do quick setting adjustments.
Other than the app launcher bar, you won’t be distracted with anything else until you press the VIZIO logo button from the navigation bar. This brings up a full screen interface where you can find other apps you can install to the TV. There is a fairly good selection of apps from a typical calculator to a bunch of news-related apps. All the heavyweights are present including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Amazon, Yahoo!, Flickr and dozens of others. Downloading apps is simple and refreshing because of the basic interface. Even connecting to the Internet is simple since the VIZIO M701d-A3R can connect to a nearby wireless router without any cables through the TV’s built-in Wi-Fi.
Unlike some other top HDTV competitors, the VIZIO M701d-A3R only comes with a single remote and it lacks the gimmicky features like voice commands and motion gestures. The remote that comes with the M701d-A3R is all you have to work with and fortunately, the button layout and spacing makes this remote quite easy to use. You don’t even have to worry about turning on the nearby lamp if you cannot see the buttons because the remote’s buttons can be backlit.
The M701d-A3R is also capable of delivering a cinematic 3D experience through the use of VIZIO’s Theater 3D tech. VIZIO goes a little bit overboard with the 3D craze as the company decided to bundle the TV with 8 passive 3D glasses. For big families that want to huddle around the TV, they will surely benefit from all those pairs of sunglasses.
The picture quality of the VIZIO M701d-A3R isn’t exactly jaw dropping especially when you compare it to a 4K display. But the 70-inch screen size really makes up for it and the 1080p visuals look pretty nice. One of the main features that drives the performance of this display is the Razor LED with Smart Dimming technology. Basically, the Razor LED tech aims to be an all-in-one optimization solution which increases the vibrancy of colors while minimizing energy consumption. It is pretty reliable and it works together with Smart Dimming to get the best brightness level. Sound quality isn’t all that amazing too but average people wanting a big model shouldn’t really care and they probably have a sound bar reserved anyway.
VIZIO has done a great job in creating a full lineup of M-series TVs that hope to take on the budget crowds. The M701d-A3R costs $2,199 (70-inch model) and that low price could be enough to focus more on the advantages of the VIZIO M701d-A3R like the easy Smart TV experience and beautiful design. It is great to see a cheap 1080p 70-inch TV because it will likely pressure other companies to drop their overpriced TVs.
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