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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Vizio OLED H1 Review

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"OLED televisions are wildly expensive." Well, that has been historically true, but Vizio decided to take a stand against that when the company released its first OLED 4K TV, the H1. At launch it was $500 cheaper than the king of OLED, the LG CX. Since both have been on the market a few months, that price gap has tightened a bit to around $200, which makes picking between these two televisions a bit more of a challenge.While I think that overall the LG CX is a better display, I think the Vizio is a better television. LG's webOS operating system is, in this reviewer's opinion, considerably worse than Vizio's latest SmartCast OS, making the Vizio a more pleasant daily-driver television than the CX for most people. And with pretty similar performance in the gaming arena, I have a feeling I’ll find myself recommending the Vizio OLED H1 to more people, more often.Vizio OLED H1 Review

Vizio OLED H1 – Design and Features

When you get the Vizio OLED home, you're not going to want to set it up without a large, flat surface to work and a second person to assist you: this television is not only gigantic, it's also incredibly fragile. Vizio does a good job providing you with instructions on how to lift it and where not to put your hands, but if you ever intend to move it once you've gotten it into place, it's going to be a real challenge.

The OLED stand looks fantastic once you set it up, but getting it together can be a bit confusing without paying close attention to the included instructions. It's not a quick process and you're going to need a screwdriver, but the end result is a system Vizio put together for some seriously nice cable management.

While the cable management looks good, it also demands that you own some very long HDMI cables because of how they wrap half the length of the television and route down through the rear foot behind the OLED. This makes for a really nice, neat cable bundle that is completely hidden from the front of the television, but also is a long way to travel. It's highly likely that cables you own won't be long enough to make the journey. For example, the HDMI cable that came with my Nintendo Switch is laughably too short.

When you get everything in place, most of the cables are fully hidden behind two large panels in the back of the television, with the primary HDMI ports and the HDMI eARC port hidden back there along with the power cable that sits on one site all by itself. There are two more ports on the side of the television that cannot take part in the cable management system, which is a bit of a bummer since I used almost all of the ports on the OLED and have one that kind of dangles in an rather unsavory manner on the left side of the television.

Speaking of ports, the Vizio OLED offers a very good array of choices. It features four total HDMI inputs, two of which are equipped with HDMI 2.1 technology. It also has one USB 2.0 port, one optical input, one analog audio input, an ethernet port, and composite video input. It also supports Apple Airplay 1 and 2 as well as Google Chromecast, and works with Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa if you enjoy connecting your television to your smart assistant.

Once you get cables in place and pop on the back panels, it feels semi-permanent. The panels do not come off easily, and the way the cables are routed through the rear foot is also pretty firmly set. So while it looks nice, and I personally prioritize this over anything else, it's not particularly practical if you're changing around cables with any frequency. I don't, so it didn't bother me much.

Once in place, the Vizio OLED is one of the nicest televisions I've ever seen. The front-facing swoop of the stand curves up beautifully into the base of the television and raises it a good height above my media stand. I can imagine it also looks stunning wall-mounted, and that swooping stand is designed to work perfectly with the Vizio Elevate Dolby Atmos Soundbar, which I highly recommend you consider for reasons I'll get into in the audio section.

Vizio OLED H1 – Remote

The Vizio remote is pretty much identical to the one that ships with the P-Series Quantum, and I overall like it. It's slim without being too small and offers enough buttons to satisfy me for the most part. I do wish it had a dedicated pause/play button, but the center "ok" button works fine.

As with the P-Series, the OLED remote does not have voice activation, so searching for content on YouTube can be tedious. I also don't particularly like the number of sponsored channel buttons on the remote, but they're mostly harmless.

I had one weird issue with the remote and my Klipsch The Fives bookshelf HDMI speakers: they appear to share the same IR band. I cannot adjust volume (or mute) my speakers using the speaker remote, because for some reason that causes the OLED to launch Netflix. This is not an issue I have experienced before with any other television, so I thought I should mention it.

Vizio OLED H1 – Ease of Use

I’ve traditionally been wary of built-in smart TV operating systems since, up until this year, Android TV's atrocious interface did a great job souring me to anything other than dedicated external devices. But as of late, televisions have finally been getting processors that are capable of running smart TV operating systems well and the Vizio is no exception.

With the experience I've had on this television, Vizio's own SmartCast OS is probably my second favorite proprietary TV interface now.

Roku is, in my opinion, still better, and Android TV offers you more options for content, but SmartCast beats the pants off LG's now-dated webOS and Samsung's lackluster Tizen. SmartCast doesn't try to be too much, and it operates a lot like Android TV but without all the bulk that can come with that system. The interface is snappy and easy to navigate, and I never really found myself in a situation where I wished something loaded faster. I think it's even faster at launching apps than my Roku Ultra is, which is high praise.

I will say, on occasion, the operating system seemed to snag for an undue length of time, and it can be a bit slow to boot up as well. But once you're up and running, it's a very nice experience.

The setup of this television was pretty quick. After giving it some basic information like my WiFi password and location, as well as giving it a few minutes to download the latest update from Vizio, it launched SmartCast and I was watching content.It smartly swaps among supported HDR formats like HDR10+ and Dolby Vision when the content launches

The Vizio comes pre-loaded with a lot of apps. Actually, that is a bit misleading: It comes pre-loaded with every app available for SmartCast. There is no App Store, but you are free to organize the apps in the order you would like to see them. While this meant that I was instantly able to start watching YouTube and Netflix without having to download them, it also means that if you don't see a streaming service you use listed, it doesn't exist for SmartCast. Anime fans will be out of luck, for example, as neither Funimation nor Crunchyroll are supported apps.

This may dip a bit into a discussion about picture quality, but I wanted to point out that this television comes out of the box nearly exactly where I wanted it. The "motion" setting is off, it smartly swaps among supported HDR formats like HDR10+ and Dolby Vision when the content launches, and it remembers what settings you might change and applies them across the board where they are relevant. The only thing I needed to change was to adjust the color Picture from "Vivid" to "Calibrated" and turn the color temperature from "Warm" to "Natural" for standard dynamic range content. In Dolby Vision, I thought the out of the box options were perfect. More on these specifics below.

So as far as ease of use is concerned, most will find that the TV is ready to watch and enjoy quickly, easily, and with next to no roadblocks.

Vizio OLED H1 – Picture Quality

As an OLED, the Vizio H1 is hard to beat when it comes to picture quality. Colors are gorgeous, and blacks are truly black which results in excellent contrast. You'll need to make just a few adjustments out of the box to get it to where you might want it, but once there it's really hard to not enjoy how great this TV looks.

I tuned the television to the Calibrated picture setting, maxed out the Luminance, turned off judder and stutter reduction, and changed the color balance from "warm" to "normal." I played with a few other settings to see how they affected the television's performance, but found that I didn't really need to adjust much else. I did the same when viewing Dolby Vision content, which is the only way to gain access to those settings and then the TV remembers them when you watch DV content in the future.

Unlike LCD televisions that rely on local dimming zones, an OLED controls the display at a pixel level, which means that there is no bloom or haloing at all to worry about and the display is capable of achieving clean, crisp color and contrast lines: when you see black, you can get truly black.When you see black on this TV it's truly black

OLED also has a really wide viewing angle, meaning everyone in your living room, regardless of their seating position, can enjoy the H1 without seeing any issues with contrast loss or panel uniformity issues. For a big family sitting together in a living room setting, this is the kind of performance you are going to want.

HDR content looks solid, but the Vizio OLED is only just barely capable of giving you what I would consider "good" HDR since it doesn't get particularly bright. To really see a difference with HDR, which shows a true range between highlights and shadows, you need at least 600 nits of peak brightness. The brighter your display can get, the more you see the difference with HDR over SDR. The Vizio OLED has around 800 nits of brightness when measured at max luminance, so while it's more than enough for HDR, I've seen more "wow" out of LCD televisions which typically can produce a much brighter picture (generally at the cost of those deep blacks, however).

Compared to an older Sony LCD television I have, the H1 is much brighter, so it is definitely an improvement for those who are upgrading from LCD televisions bought three or four years ago. I also have not had a particular problem watching football games with a big window behind my couch facing the television (not ideal placement, but it's all we have to work with at my house). That said, I would often wait until after dark in order to watch either Ozark in Dolby Vision or The Mandalorian from Disney+ just because I didn't want to deal with any glare issues, which definitely show up when watching content that has a lot of shadows.

Compared to the Vizio P-Series Quantum, the OLED is most certainly dimmer and as a result HDR content actually looks comparable between the two. The P-Series can get brighter but at the cost of color and contrast definition, while the OLED has great color and contrast definition but isn't quite as bright.

In short, you're going to enjoy the OLED more in darker rooms, but it's not unwatchable in bright light either.

Just like with the P-Series, the H1's processor does show how far behind Sony and LG that Vizio is when it comes to low bitrate content. When streaming Mr. Robot from Amazon Prime, dark shadowy areas contrasted with lit actors resulted in really unpleasant and visible artifacts as the light blended into dark. The same can be said with YouTube content and even shows from Disney+, where bright skies will have visible banding. Though the 4K upscaling looks really good, Vizio just can't compete with the top dogs when it comes to picture processing. This is by no means a deal-breaker for a television that comes in less expensive than OLED offerings from LG and Sony, but this is primarily where you're going to see the reason those companies choose to, and can, charge more.

Dolby Vision Netflix content looks spectacular, however, so if you spend most of your time streaming from Netflix you probably won't notice too much of an issue.

Vizio OLED H1 – Gaming Performance

While there is a deep fear of burn-in when it comes to OLED, it's really hard to beat the mix of response time, low latency, and picture quality that you get out of one, and the Vizio is no exception: gaming on the Vizio OLED H1 is a dream.

I tested Trials of Mana on the Nintendo Switch as well as Apex Legends, Destiny 2, Ghost of Tsushima, and Risk of Rain 2 through the Playstation 4 and the Playstation 5 with the Vizio OLED and was consistently impressed with how good gaming is on this television.

I also had the opportunity to test gaming on the LG CX and found that because OLED has a bit of a problem coming out of black, shadows tend to be too dark for competitive gaming. It's just too easy to lose targets in dark, inky shadows.

I have not experienced this problem to the same degree on the Vizio OLED. I think gaming on this TV is truly excellent and I have no issue recommending it for both casual and competitive console gamers.Games that max out at 60 frames per second look beautiful. Apex Legends, Ghost of Tsushima and Risk of Rain 2 all looked and played wonderfully. Ghost of Tsushima was especially rewarding to play, as the game's gorgeous scenery floods out from the OLED and into your living room.

When you are able to play games that support the full power of the Playstation 5, you'll be rewarded with beautifully smooth, high resolution gameplay that feels exceptional. The Crucible in Destiny 2 is one such experience and the Vizio OLED plays its role here fabulously. Low input lag, fast response time, and beautifully rendered HDR gameplay is fully on display.

I want to address burn-in concern with this television because it is a common fear with OLEDs. Based on my testing, I don't think it's going to be an issue. Every game I played, and played for hours at a time, has static elements on screen. I intentionally kept moving my cursor in a menu to keep the television from dimming (which it does automatically and very quickly when it senses that nothing is happening on screen to prevent burn-in) and have not seen any evidence of burn-in. Is it still possible to happen for you? Yes. I won't say it's out of the question, but I think that Vizio has done a great job with how this television is programmed to make it pretty much a non issue for most of the user base.

If you are going to play the same video game with the same, unchanging HUD for 10+hours a day, every day, for months, then yeah you might get some burn in. Same thing would happen if you left this television on CNN for that same amount of time. But most of the user base won't do that, and for them burn-in is unlikely.

Vizio OLED H1 – Sound Quality

While Vizio equipped the OLED H1 with a 30-watt speaker, don't use it: sound quality is really bad with this television. I complained the P-Series Quantum sounded tinny and underwhelming, and the OLED is even worse. This is what happens with ultra-thin displays: there just isn't much room to work with to allow it to make quality sound.

You're going to want to get some kind of sound system for this. Vizio will recommend its Elevate Soundbar because of how it is designed to fit neatly in the swoop under the screen, and I think that's probably a solid choice. Whatever you choose, just don't use the built-in sound.

Purchasing Guide

The Vizio OLED H1 retails for a starting price of $1,299 for a 55-inch screen version of the TV and it's available at Best Buy.


The Vizio OLED is a mighty impressive television. The design of the display as well as feature and picture quality are only matched or beaten by Sony and LG televisions, both of which cost more. I happen to personally like the Vizio OLED more than the LG CX because of the smart TV interface, though I admit that LG’s processing is better. For the couch, the Vizio OLED H1 is an excellent price for what you get, especially if you can find it on sale. Even at full price, the Vizio OLED H1 is an outstanding television capable of top-tier gaming performance as well as for movies and television.

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