Vizio courts cord cutters, challenges OLED, and adds new HDR options to its 2018 smart TV lineup

From PC World: “We’re all about being disruptive,” said Vizio product manager Carlos Angulo at the manufacturer’s 2018 product introductions in New York this week. And clearly, Vizio is on its game again with new 4K smart TV lines boasting higher specs at razor-sharp (i.e., low) profit margins.

For starters, all four of its smart TV collections (D-, E-, M-, and P-series) now support a multiplicity of HDR signal coding formats that crank up picture color and contrast: Not just with the 4K-mandated HDR-10 standard, but also the more aggressive (frame-by-frame image-adjusting) Dolby Vision format as well as the new-kid-on-the block HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma). Still in the test phase in the U.S., Angulo said HLG is the most efficiently coded and the only format for expanding picture range “that’s suitable for on-the-fly live sports events.” Angulo said those are the reasons “why cable and satellite TV services are getting behind it.”

At the same time, Vizio is courting the cable-cutting audience like it hasn’t done for three years, first by restoring the ATSC (broadcast TV) tuner that had been missing from most models in the lineup “and the reason we’ve called recent sets ‘Home Theater Displays,’ not ‘TVs,’” Angulo said.

Vizio is also is upgrading viewer alternatives through its SmartCast OS platform, which is integrated with Google Chromecast and newly responsive to voice commands from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices. Used interchangeably, both voice-control platforms can handle basic Vizio TV control functions, while the search-engine fueled Google system is also ready to pull up an on-screen weather forecast overlay or search for shows by name and outlet. So if you can find a sought-for film for free on Netflix, you won’t make the mistake of renting it for $3.99 from Amazon Prime Video or Vudu.

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