80-inch TVs are normally beyond reach from the average consumer. These huge TVs are usually priced above $3,000 and can’t really fit in average-sized living rooms. But the quality of movies are getting better and the Blu-ray ecosystem continues to expand so it is natural for people to yearn for these massive screens especially if there are plenty of people in the house. VIZIO wants to capitalize on the demand by using its specialty of offering fairly good displays at affordable prices. Many top companies tend to shoehorn their largest displays with tons of features to justify the heavy price tag. While the VIZIO M80-C3 seems to fall under that category with its $3,999 price tag, it has one characteristic that makes this whole package a killer deal – 4K Ultra HD resolution.
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About the VIZIO M80-C3
The M80-C3 is the crown jewel of the VIZIO’s M-series for 2015. It is VIZIO’s most expensive TV and largest TV. Although this member of the series has a “C3” at the end of the model, there is currently only one 80-inch VIZIO TV and that should make it easy for buyers to make the right purchasing decision. If an 80-inch TV is up your alley and you want something inexpensive, the VIZIO M80-C3 is the only one and you won’t have to worry about lengthy model names and confusing variants. It is certainly less confusing than the VIZIO M801i-A3 which was VIZIO’s 2014 80-inch model.
Understandably for a big display, the M80-C3 has a whiteboard-like design with a V-stand on the left and the right. The black bezel is thin and the TV itself sports a silver finish that could stand out depending on the lighting. It comes equipped with 5 HDMI ports and a single USB port.
Comparison with the VIZIO M801i-A3
VIZIO’s entire M-series tout 4K displays widening the gap between M-series and the entry-level E-series and pushing it closer to the older P-series. Having this Ultra HD resolution on an 80-inch display is the biggest deal because those 8.3-million pixels are widely distributed on the large screen making the extra detail much more noticeable. The high resolution is even more apparent when you plug in a computer or laptop to the VIZIO M80-C3. A 1080p resolution looks far too pixelated on an 80-inch display.
The HDMI ports get some much needed upgrades too. All 5 HDMI ports support 4K although only one of them has the HDMI 2.0 specification. This means that only one connected component can enjoy the full luxury of 4K at a smooth 60 fps. Three of the HDMI ports also get HDCP 2.2 copy protection so it is a bit confusing but not a big deal for a TV manufacturer that strives for affordability.
Although cheaper than just about all other 80-inch 4K displays, the M80-C3 makes a huge play on upscaling. VIZIO calls this technology the VIZIO Spatial Scaling Engine and it works the same way as the scaling engine present in the P-series. The pixels on 720p and 1080p content are multiplied and a complex algorithm is executed to make the content near-4K worthy.
The VIZIO M80-C3 has twice as many Active LED Zones as the zones found in the M801i-A3. There are 32 in total so the older P-series models still have a bit more but this big improvement from its predecessor means a much higher contrast ratio of 20 million to 1.
VIZIO didn’t really change much with the smart TV experience but internally, there are some key improvements to the hardware that should make for a better overall experience. It is powered by a unique six-core processor which consists of four GPU cores and two CPU cores that help deliver smooth online 4K streaming. The M80-C3 also uses dual-band Wi-Fi with the latest 802.11ac standards so local wireless streaming is smooth too providing you have an 802.11ac router and other computers and devices with the same standard.
If you are someone who hates fancy smart TV interfaces with a vengeance, you will find that the interface of the VIZIO M80-C3 is very simple and uncluttered. It doesn’t even have a Web browser which is totally fine because Web browsers on TVs don’t exactly perform very well especially if you are dealing with complex sites and Web apps. There is a pretty decent selection of apps you can launch like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Spotify, Pandora, Plex and several other smaller ones. It doesn’t have any fancy gimmicks like motion and voice control either.
The remote control that comes with the M80-C3 is the same as the remote included in the P-series TVs and it is pretty neat. The front of the remote is boring and a little bit cluttered with some dedicated app buttons for Amazon, Netflix and iHeartRadio but the back has a nifty QWERTY keyboard making it easier to log into accounts or conduct searches. The remote itself is backlit as well.
The best thing about the VIZIO M80-C3 is the “Active LED Zones” option. Turn the option on and you get really good picture quality whether it is local 1080p content or 4K content which you can currently stream from Amazon and Netflix. Active LED Zones highlight the TV’s full-array local dimming feature which allows parts of the screen’s backlight to dim depending on the content thus improving the contrast ratio. The older P-series TVs have more Active LED Zones but the differences are less obvious. What matters more is how better the VIZIO M80-C3 is in upscaling content 1080p content compared to previous 4K models. Overall, the picture quality is so good, it beats some of the pricier competitors too. Other 4K TVs do a better job with motion handling though.
• Excellent picture quality thanks to LED local dimming.
• Considerably cheaper than other 80-inch 4K TVs.
• Very simple smart TV experience.
• 802.11ac wireless onboard.
• 5 HDMI ports.
• Uninspired design.
• Limited smart TV features may not be for everyone.
• Average motion handling.
4K content is still very limited right now but the VIZIO M80-C3 is the best long-term investment if you are looking for an 80-inch screen because it is affordable and comes with the essential futureproof elements.