Customer Review

625 of 749 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars COMPUTER USERS - Read my review!, June 26, 2013
This review is from: VIZIO M501d-A2R 50-Inch 1080p 3D Smart LED HDTV (2013 Model) (Electronics)
First off, I am primarily a computer user. I value frames per second (refresh rate) and motion fluidity over other features like apps. My greatest discovery with this TV in regards to getting the smooth motion to work as close to perfect as possible when viewing videos on your computer can be found near the end of this review. It's pretty much the last paragraph.

Bought from Walmart for 799 before tax. The box was in horrible condition. I had it shipped site to store. I was worried I got a refurbished model or something it was so bad, but everything was in good working order inside. Hooked it up without any issue.

CONTROLLER: is pretty horrible. I had a previous Vizio model which had the same issues with the controller. It's like you have to press hard on the keys and hold them for longer to get it to respond. Not sure if it's a controller issue what, but it is annoying.

SOUND: The sound I consider pretty good for a TV. The problem is, that they have the annoying sound leveling feature which turns up volume in low parts of the movie and you hear a bunch of fuzz. If you turn it off, it seems that you can barely hear the conversations over the background effects and music. A solution to this would be send the audio out to an external system. I don't have an external system, so I figured I'd use a pair of computer speakers. Unfortunately, this is the first TV that doesn't have a 3.5mm mini-jack (headphone) for audio out. Frankly I'm surprised they've held on this long, but now that it's gone, I miss it. The only audio out are RCA and optical for this TV

FIRMWARE: Mine came out of the box with firmware version 1.29xxxx. This is the "old" firmware. The new is 1.4xxx. I followed the instructions of another review to get the firmware to update. Mind you, after registering, hooking up to your home network, and hitting the service call option in the system settings, the firmware will update when you have your TV turned OFF. I turned it off for about 15 minutes and came back, and it didn't update. Turned it off, and went to the computer to open a Chat with Vizio support, and during that time, it had updated the firmware. To be safe, I would say, let your TV remain off for a half an hour and you should see something if you're lucky like me.

PICTURE QUALITY: is great, it comes out of the box with the screen temperature on the cool side. I like mine a little more towards the warm side and changing it was a breeze. Apps are fine. I really have nothing to compare it too though, as most vizios I assume are alike, and my only other experience with a smart TV was a vizio as well. The "standard" preset for picture settings has the sharpness turned up to 70/100. This is much higher than what you would see on most screens. Normal for me was around 40/100. Other than that, I feel that the picture quality is great. Love the thin bezel.

LET'S GET TO WHAT REALLY MATTERS!!! Smooth motion, frames per second, 3D, and can you force 3D and smooth motion effects when viewing a signal sent from your pc through HDMI. So let's start off with it's 240hz claim. Using the online chat support through the vizio website, I talked to a rep about this who really didn't know her stuff. What I wanted to know was what was the true refresh rate of the TV, and what was interpolated. I don't completely understand how the TV's do what they do, but I know enough to be dangerous. The rep knew less than I did. Through educating myself online and what little knowledge I learned from her, I can tell you that there are no "TV"s in the US that accept a signal input of greater than 60hz. The only way a TV in the US can claim to output a frame rate higher than 60hz is to take the existing 60 frames, and create frames in between them that are an average of the two frames. This is called interpolation. This doubles the frames per second and makes motion look more fluid. Long story short, the rep told me that they interpolate up to 120hz, and the 240hz is only used during 3D. So I suppose the advantage for this model is that you can view the smooth motion effect during 3D where you couldn't before. I don't know if this is fact, but it is what I assume at this point. I was really hoping that the TV could accept 120hz signal from my computer but that is not the case, and it looks like won't be the case for another decade.

I am very happy to report that AFTER the firmware update, I can turn the 3D on and off whenever and wherever I want. With my last vizio 3D tv and before the firmware update of this one, I could only turn on 3D when the TV decided it was appropriate, which is crazy for many reason which you can read about in other reviews. Also with this firmware update, the smooth motion options seem to work at all times with a signal from HDMI. Before, it would only turn on smooth motion when I was viewing a video in full screen that had a resolution width of 1080 or 720. I figured it had to do with fooling it into thinking it was receiving a signal from a blu-ray or something that was 720p or 1080p. Regardless, I didn't like this, because my dream was to play a game with the graphics options set to 60hz and have the TV interpolate it up to 120hz. I'm happy to say that with this TV this dream became a reality. I have gotten it to work, although I haven't figured it out completely. There are probably some settings I need to tweak because it took a little of finesse to get a few games to work with the "smooth motion" effect.


**** I'll dare to be presumptuous by saying that I imaging most people probably wouldn't notice or not care if the picture wasn't 100% smooth or had a bit of judder every few seconds in between smooth parts. I'm use to playing games on my computer monitor at a TRUE 120hz, so seeing the "smooth motion" effect on the TV skip frames and start to judder was driving me crazy. This happens for a reason, and there is a solution. Here it is.... If you want the smooth motion effects to work as close to perfect as possible when viewing a movie from your PC, YOU WILL NEED TO SET THE REFRESH RATE OF YOUR MONITOR/TV TO THE SAME FRAME RATE THAT THE VIDEO WAS ENCODED IN. Let me break it down and tell you how! If you right click on the icon of the video that you want to play, and select properties, you can navigate to a tab that tells you the refresh rate or frames per second that that video was encoded in. Most of the time it will be between 23 and 29. Let's say it was 29. You now need to go into your video card settings, or the display option in the control panel and change the refresh rate of your monitor (in this case, the TV) to 29 as well if possible. If I remember correctly, the options I have are 23, 24, 29, 59, and 60. If you don't have those options, try playing around with the video card settings. I know that when I used the "clone" setting so that the computer sends the same image to my computer monitor as the TV, it matters which screen is the "primary" for what refresh rates it will let you select. Also, it will give you different refresh rate options based on what your resolution is set at. I know that at 1280x720, I can only choose from 59hz and 60hz. When I go up to 1920x1080, I can choose more options, from 23hz up to 60hz. Anyway, after matching the refresh rate and hitting apply, close everything out and go back to your video file and start it up. You should see a noticeably smoother picture through the TV now. Without making these changes, there is a conflict that interferes with your TV's "smooth motion" effect. Probably because the video you are trying to play is 29 frames per second, but you have your monitor is typically set for 60 frames per second, and a TV is trying to take all of that and interpolate up to 120. Doing so causes some dropped frames and judder that may annoy folks like me. Experiment, and let me know your own findings. You will see that different video players make a difference in this effect as well. I had better luck with VLC and Media Player Classic than I did Windows Media player when searching for the best quality with "smooth motion." That holy grail of a smooth 120hz picture is something I'll always be chasing I imagine. At least until they make a better TV or a larger computer monitor.

This was a long winded review I know, but I wanted to share my successes and failures with everyone because I know there are people out there that want to use this TV in the manner I do and would run into the same issues. All in all, it is a great TV for computer gamer and cable watcher alike.
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Tracked by 8 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 37 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 2, 2013 9:45:52 AM PDT
Out of curiosity have you played around with the remote when controlling other devices like a Tivo, for instance?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2013 10:01:19 AM PDT
Hi there! thanks for your comment, I haven't, but I have used the comcast universal remote on the TV. The issues seem to still be present, but not quite as bad. I believe that it is a signal receiver type issue. Maybe the thin bezel is the issue. I've heard rumors of wifi remote support happening someday soon. That could be just a rumor though. Not even sure what a wifi remote is.

Posted on Jul 4, 2013 12:06:14 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 4, 2013 12:07:36 PM PDT
Sirik says:
Thanks for the super review! I too am a PC gamer, and I have been using my (slightly aged) LG television as one of my primary monitors. I have been looking forward to using the 3D, in combination with the motion smoothing, and this is exactly the kind of detailed review that let's me know that this is the model for me! Details were a bit fuzzy on how the MEMC was applied, and response times, but this sounds good. I may shoot for the 55" though.

It's always good to know that there are at least a few people who care about accurate reproduction/upconversion/interpolation of refresh rates. Props on the simple explanation of how to set the signal to match for the less knowledgeable!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2013 12:44:20 PM PDT
You're very welcome! I knew there had to a be a few others out there who wanted to use the TV like I wanted.

Posted on Jul 12, 2013 7:13:03 PM PDT
Optimus Neo says:
How's the screen lag on this tv, and can it keep up with fast paced games?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2013 8:51:05 PM PDT
It's not nearly as bad as I've seen in others. The must have put a stronger processor in this TV because it interpolates fast enough that you barely notice any lag. If you're pretty tuned in you'd noticed a small amount of input lag when jerking the mouse back and forth, but depending on the game, your brain adapts to it pretty quickly. With some TVs it's game breaking, but with this TV, it's easily do-able. Mind you, I'm talking about when it interpolates frames up to 120hz. With that turned off, it's the same as your monitor. No input lag at all. I'm not disappointed at all, and I'm pretty critical about this stuff. That being said, I don't play a lot of FPS where lightning reflexes and precision mouse movements are huge, but if i did, I'd probably be back at my computer monitor. Hope my opinion helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2013 9:15:30 PM PDT
Optimus Neo says:
Thanks for the fast response. I'm coming from an enthusiast DLP laser tv that have zero lag, and that tv lasted me less than a year so I got burned for 4k. Now i'm making a jump to an LCD tv, and I'm being very cautious this time. Thanks again, your opinion helped me a lot.

Posted on Jul 23, 2013 9:13:39 AM PDT
J. Wilson says:
Thanks for the detailed review. I have a couple of questions. Do you know if this will work with Nvidia's 3D Vision on a PC at 1080 with frame rates greater than 1080P? I had a Samsung a while back that would work like a PC monitor with some work arounds (software & hardware). Most TV's will only do 24 fps 1080p 3D like a 3D Blu-Ray & PS3 3D gaming. That is ok on a movie but not so great for fast moving games.

Also, with the passive 3D glasses does it drop the resolution in half like older passive 3D TVs? It kind of sounded like it kept the full 1080P but altered frames (i.e. 1080P Blu-Ray would play at 48 fps, alternating frames).

Thank you!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2013 5:02:22 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 23, 2013 5:10:21 PM PDT
Hi there, thanks for your comment! I have the first gen 3D Vision active shutter glasses from nVidia. I've used them with my PC for about a year now. They work great. You'll be pleased to know that you can indeed use this TV for playing games in 3D and also you DON'T have to use the active shutter glasses. You can use the passive 3D that the TV supports. What you need to do is download and install Nvidia 3DTV Play. It is software for syncing up your 3D capable TV with the video cards. There's a catch though. The software costs about $40 to purchase from nVidia. They have a trial, but if you want to continue to use it after a period of time, you have to pay. BUT!!! If you already own the 3D Vision glasses setup, meant for your PC you don't have to pay. Simply download the 3DTV Play software, plug in the 3D Vision IR emitter via usb to your PC and the software will let you use it for free. The IR emitter won't be doing anything, but when the 3DTV Play software recognizes that it is connected to the system, it doesn't require you to purchase 3DTV play. I'm uncertain if this is a bug or by design, but I haven't really questioned it. I figured they just wanted you to pay once at least for their 3D technology, whether it be for the 3DTV Play or the 3D vision. One thing to note. This TV will play 3D games at 1080p at 24hz and 720p at 60hz. With 3D vision and your PC, you could get the 1080p at the full 60, but that is the trade off for using this software. You don't get the best performance. If you can live with playing your games at 720p, then you can have the same 60 frames per second. Honestly, I don't mind this at all. It still looks beautiful on the TV, and I much prefer the 60hz over the 24hz of the higher resolution. As for your second question, I'm unsure. I believe that this TV is like others and does the even horizontal lines for one eye, and odd horizontal lines for the other eye. I don't believe it's fair to say that it halves the resolution though. The picture looks just as sharp when your brain pairs them back up. What looks like bad artifact without the glasses, matches up perfectly with them. I think the 3D is as good if not better than any I've seen at my friends' places. They have LG and Samsung. Hope this helps!

Posted on Aug 4, 2013 4:11:02 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 4, 2013 4:12:47 AM PDT
Been doing research for the past few months on and off and have come to the conclusion this is the best LED to use as a monitor. I'm coming from a 32" Sharp Aquos I like to call my "baby". I've have had her for 6 years(yes it cost me 1k+ back than, but worth it) I really need something new since the o'l girl is starting to lose it's shine. I had a few questions about this. I noticed it has smart dimming and is that the same as local dimming I assume? How does the blacks look on dark scenes when gaming at 120hz? How do you know if it's at 120hz when the monitor is set @ 60hz? I wish Samsung released their 32" ultimate dimming version, but I don't see that for a year or two now. Asus has their 4K monitor, but that's 3,500 @ 30hz T_T Do you think this is a good investment for the next few years? I assume it will be.

btw is there another way to find the FPS my videos are encoded in? I don't see anything about fps in my tab.

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