Friday, December 11, 2015

Samsung and Vizio: Two Choices For The Ultimate 4K Home Theater TV...

Better resolution, bigger size, more features. That's how we all feel about televisions. They are the integral piece of your home theater system. There are so many models out there and it's difficult choosing one that will best fit your home theater needs but we found two 4K models that are reasonably priced, have excellent features and crisp, gorgeous, true-to-life pictures, with beautiful aesthetics. We are confident with our choices.

4K is the new superstar in televisions. Ultra High Definition. With about 8 million pixels, 4K is four times what your current 1080p set can display. More pixels offer more information and that offers sharper pictures. We want the sharpest pictures we can get, don't we? (Just remember, though, that you need to be viewing 4K content to get the full effect, or sitting closer, which is doable with this TV.) The ability to get up close to the screen without the image breaking down is one of the most intoxicating things about 4K. A 4K display reveals an astonishing increase in nuance and detail. Blu-Ray players and movies are starting t come out in 4K, Amazon and Netflix are testing it out, and a few films and TV shows are filming in 4K. This is only the beginning.


The Samsung UNJU7100 series is the company's least-expensive TV, with true local dimming for excellent picture quality and deep black levels. Its accurate colors and video processing are among the best on the market. Samsung's redesigned Smart TV system and remote are simpler than ever to use, and its cutting-edge connectivity and other features can be upgraded in the future. And let us not forget to mention its exceptionally striking design. If you want the same high level picture quality as some of its competitors, or even more expensive models, along with amazing style and awesome features, you've come to the right model. 

Samsung is always one of our favorite companies with the best products around. Samsung sells more 4K, or in other words UHD (Ultra High Definition), TVs than its competitors and has more 4K models in its 2015 lineup than ever before. The JU7100 is as close to that elusive sweet spot between price and picture quality as it gets. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Samsung's products are always aesthetically beautiful and this set doesn't disappoint. Its innovative design is cradled with a thin frame and sleek stand. Its dark metallic bezel angles forward from the screen like a sharp-edged picture frame. It's stunning.

Navigating is simple, and the remote control is one of our favorites. Navigate with motion control using the pointer, or click from one item to the next with a traditional four-way cursor. The new menu system is better than ever. Gently laying your finger on the touch-sensitive pointer button invites a basic menu and there you will peel away at the menu's layers. The Smart Hub was waiting for us with open arms. All of the app icons we've come to know and depend on are there, like an old friend. Netflix, HBO GO, Vudu, and a browser. Lots of surprises await. Sony's PlayStation Now service, a 'tweeting' function that is really cool, You Tube in 4K, and much more at your fingertips.

Connectivity is magnificent. With four HDMI (cable of 4K), two USB 2.0, and optical digital audio output in its black box, OneConnect Mini, you'll have everything you desire for a superb setup. If you need more, the TV also has USB 3.0, an Ethernet port, the RF antenna jack and minijacks for the included the analog AV breakout cables (one each for component- and composite-video). 

Last, but not least, the JU7100's game mode is sensational, the sound quality is as good as you can get without using a soundbar or home theater system (which you most likely will), and the 3D viewing is really decent with good contrast and color accuracy.

The JU7100 is a really solid 4K model and should be at the top of your wish list.


Vizio M Series. This affordable (and one of the least expensive) 4K TV offers an excellent picture for its price tag. The 4K resolution is the star of the show, obviously, but there are other exceptional features. Deep black levels with superior contrast make this LCT TV a solid choice. It's our top choice in value and quality. Visio offers a technology called local dimming that chooses different areas to dim or brighten for better contrast and that, to us, was just as important as the 4K. This model doesn't have all of the bells and whistles of its competitors, but you're not paying for them either, and most of those features are unnecessary for many of us anyway.

The menu system is basic, easy to navigate, and offers helpful on-screen touches, including descriptions of various menu items and access to the full user manual. Each size in the M series gets 32 dimmable zones, so the screen can dim or brighten independently in 32 separate areas (the exception is the 43-inch size at 28 zones). No other competitor matches at this price point. The M series 60" and larger sets have 120Hz panels, while the 55-inch and smaller TVs use 60Hz panels. Higher Hz numbers equate to improved motion resolution (less blurring). All of the M series models, even the 60Hz ones, offer optional smoothing, otherwise known as the Soap Opera Effect.

The 2015 M series' Vizio Internet Apps (VIA) Plus smart TV suite is pretty basic but you have ChromeCast or Roku for that anyway. Their content selection is decent with both video and audio offerings. Along with HDMI,Vizio's other physical connections include one each of USB, component-video, composite video, Ethernet and an RF tuner port. There's also an analog audio and optical digital audio output. 

The M series delivered excellent overall picture quality and outperformed other significantly more-expensive 2015 4K sets, mostly due to the strength of its contrast and pop. Color accuracy was also excellent. Again, we love their deep black levels and they provide a much more realistic picture for your viewing experience. Its internal sound system was good enough but there are always external soundbars or home theater systems for that, which you are probably going towards anyway.

The bottom line is, if you don't want to break the bank and you want to get the most bang for your buck, this is an excellent choice.