Vizio D-Series TV Review

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If you’re looking for a frills-free TV and don’t want to spend much cash, this year’s Vizio D-Series (available at Walmart for $228.00) may be a good place to start. The 2021 series features TVs from 24 to 43 inches, so it’s an especially attractive option if you’re looking for a smaller TV for a bedroom, dorm, or kitchen. While the picture quality merely gets the job done, it's a top choice for the price—especially considering its built-in streaming options.

If you want something sleek and filled with streaming content options, this is a solid choice.

All told, you're getting decently shadowy black levels, excellent color accuracy, and good video processing. Just be aware that with these smaller TVs, you're not getting the upgraded tech that has debuted on bigger, more expensive TVs: there are no quantum dots, no Ultra High Definition, no HDR. The series is 720p and 1080p only, and the backlight—while still using a full-array of LEDs across the whole panel—doesn't have local dimming. That's right on par for TVs in this size/price class, though; they're meant as affordable TVs that don't make you pay for features you don't need in a smaller, secondary TV.

But if you don't mind a basic picture and want something sleek and filled with streaming content options, the 2021 Vizio D-Series is a solid choice. Still, you might want to shop around our picks for the best 32-inch TVs before you make a final decision. For example, our current top pick, the 32-inch TCL 3-Series, can be found for around $199 (a bit more money than the 32-inch 720p D-Series), and gets you more brightness and the built in Roku platform. Just keep in mind that it's also two years older, so it may be difficult to track down eventually.

About the Vizio D-Series

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
Vizio's D-Series is available in 6 sizes, from 24 to 43 inches. We tested and reviewed the 40-inch model.

This year, Vizio’s D-Series is available in six screen sizes across two different resolutions:

24-inch 720p (Vizio D24h-J), MSRP $139.99
32-inch 720p (Vizio D32h-J), MSRP $179.99
24-inch 1080p (Vizio D24f-J), MSRP $159.99
32-inch 1080p (Vizio D32f-J), MSRP $219.99
40-inch 1080p (Vizio D40f-J), MSRP $249.99
43-inch 1080p (Vizio D43f-J), MSRP $299.99

You might run into some confusion differentiating between the 24- and 32-inch models, as they’re available in both 720p (HD) and 1080p (full-HD) resolutions. If you’re having trouble determining which 24- or 32-inch Vizio D-Series you’re looking at, notice the “h” or “f” in the model names. The “h” is for "HD" (720p), while the “f” is for “full-HD” (1080p).

It’s also worth pointing out that Vizio has technically introduced two “D” series this year: the D-Series and the D4-Series. To clarify, this review covers the former, the range of six TVs listed above. The D4-Series is available in fewer sizes and is a bit of a step up by way of features (you get support for AMD FreeSync, for example).

The 2021 D-Series is available in six sizes across two different resolutions.

Besides the resolution differences, the specs are the same across D-Series sets:

Design: New Bezel Design

Backlight: Full Array (no local dimming)

Processor: IQ Processor

Gaming Engine: V-Gaming Engine

HDR Support: No

Native refresh rate: 60 Hz

Smart platform: Vizio SmartCast 5.0

That about sums it up for the D-series. If you want modern picture enhancements like HDR or gaming extras like Variable Refresh Rate, you’ll need to step up in price to something like Vizio's V- or M-Series line. That said, this series offers some of the smallest and most affordable models around that still net you smart features.

The results and observations below were gathered by evaluating a 40-inch D-Series, received on loan from Vizio, but we expect our takeaways to apply across sizes in the series.

Performance data

Like every TV we test, we set the Vizio D-Series up in our Cambridge TV lab and gave it 24 hours of warm-up time prior to testing and evaluation. As always, we sourced test patterns from a QuantumData 780A signal generator via SpectraCal’s CalMan Ultimate software, and took measurements using two meters: the Konica Minolta LS-100 luminance meter and the SpectraCal C6 HDR color meter.

As with other Vizio TVs this year, we ran our tests in the TV’s “Calibrated” picture mode. Because none of the D-Series TVs support HDR, we only ran the standard (non-HDR) battery of tests. Here are the key takeaways from that process:

Contrast (black level/brightness, ANSI checkerboard): 0.023 / 171.70 nits
Peak brightness measured during testing: 193.60 nits
SDR (rec.709) color gamut coverage: 93.35%


When people ask if a TV’s speakers are any good, we usually point them toward a great soundbar. The dual 10-watt speakers in this TV fire into the floor from the bottom of the panel, and they don’t sound amazing (almost no stock TV speakers do, though). You won’t get great bass presence or super-clear dialogue here, but for casual viewing purposes it’s fine.

Something to keep in mind before buying are your available audio formats. The D-Series TVs support DTS-HD high definition audio and DTS Virtual:X, but without Dolby Digital Plus support or an eARC-capable HDMI input, you won’t be able pass through Dolby Atmos content.


As Vizio’s entry-level TV for 2021, the D-Series models aren’t exactly kitted out with a ton of connectivity options, but what's included here is standard for this size/price range. Here’s what you’ll find on the back/side of the TV:

2 x HDMI (1 ARC)
1 x USB 2.0
1 x SPDIF (optical) audio out
1 x composite/AV input
1 x ethernet (LAN) input
1 x analog audio out

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
The smaller D-Series TVs aren't as rich with connectivity options as pricier series, but you're still getting two HDMI inputs and a litany of other options.
What we like

A pretty sleek design for the money

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
For being as small and affordable as they are, the D-Series TVs are quite sleek.

For a series that starts at $140, the D-Series could look a lot worse. This TV isn't as refined as a high-end computer monitor, but it's easy on the eyes overall. It features slim bezels around the screen, minimalist curved feet, and narrow enough panel depth in profile that you could wall mount them (though they’re a bit on the small size for that, in my opinion).

You’re also getting a standard IR (infrared) remote control—this year, the clicker is absolutely stuffed with hotkey buttons for launching specific apps, including Peacock, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Crackle, and Tubi. You’re also getting full-size volume/channel rockers, a full number pad, and a navigational circle. The remote is in no way trying to be minimalist or sleek, but it makes up for it in functionality.

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
The included remote is full of useful buttons, including a cornucopia of app hotkeys.

As noted above, you’re getting two HDMI inputs (one with ARC), as well as USB, ethernet (LAN) in, and an old composite/AV (red, white, and yellow) input for legacy devices. Perhaps rightly so, Vizio seems to be assuming D-Series buyers might be using older source devices like last-gen gaming consoles, DVD players, or even VCRs. If you’re in that crowd, you’re taken care of here. Lastly, I like that this TV includes an analog audio output option, as that’s hard to find these days. You could hook it up to some monster legacy speakers in your garage and stream Spotify right from the SmartCast platform.

As durability goes, our 40-inch D-Series model feels sturdy enough, though being as thin/sleek as it is, you wouldn’t want to be too rough with it. It also has a cut-out/carrying handle in the middle of the back, making it fairly easy to tote from place to place. I imagine this is especially convenient for the smaller models.

Picture quality that’s notably… just fine!

The D-Series TV isn't a bad-looking TV at all from a picture quality perspective. For being a 1080p resolution option in 2021—which has become exceedingly rare in the last couple years—it checks off all the basic boxes.

Even in Vivid mode, it's not super bright, so you wouldn't want to use it in a room that gets a ton of sunlight—but it's also not so dim that you couldn’t use it with a couple of lights on. Since it doesn't support any HDR functions or HDR picture modes you don’t really need it to be too much brighter than it is, but if you’re considering a purchase you may as well be aware of what this TV is and isn't capable of, too.

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
There's no HDR here, and you're only getting 720p or 1080p resolution, but the core picture quality is solid overall.

During lab testing, we measured a maximum brightness (in the “Calibrated” picture mode) of a little under 200 nits (nits being shorthand for candelas per meter squared, a measurement of luminance). I imagine you’d get more than 200 nits from the D-Series TV in one of the brighter picture modes, but in our tests Vizio’s “Calibrated” mode is one of the more accurate ones, meaning overall it looks better even if it’s not giving you maxed-out brightness. On average, you can expect about 170-180 nits during most scenes, paired with a black level around 0.02 nits. Compare that to the 2019 TCL 3-Series, for example, which yields higher brightness (over 300 nits) but notably worse black levels (0.055 nits).

The D-Series would look a bit better in a dim/dark room, however. Around 200 nits brightness is quite average for non-HDR TVs over the last decade, but the black levels we measured are very good for what you’re paying. I watched a good bit of content—1080p stuff on YouTube, Vizio’s “WatchFree+” Wi-Fi-based cable service, and shows on Hulu and Netflix—and found that it all generally looks good.

A full array backlight, accurate color, and decent video processing mean most content looks pretty good.

On the other hand, even at the 40-inch size, I was aware that what I was watching was at 1080p resolution, in some cases being down-sampled from native 4K. Color held up well, but admittedly in “Calibrated” mode it doesn’t pop very much: after years of watching HDR TVs with color that extends beyond the standard color space, however, that’s to be expected. The occasionally fuzzy resolution probably wouldn't show up on the smallest sizes, but I personally find that 1080p is about the bare minimum viable resolution for TVs over 32 inches, especially if you're only sitting a few feet away.

The 60Hz refresh rate you’re getting (some TVs do 120Hz, but tend to be upper mid-range and high-end sets) does occasionally evince some blurring and trailing during fast-moving content. As is typically the case, difficult camera pans over complex scenes, especially during film (24fps) content, result in some judder. But while the TV isn't entirely ideal for fast-paced sports and video games, it's generally fine for most other kinds of content.

Decent smart features, too

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
SmartCast, Vizio's smart platform, gives you access to a ton of pre-installed and installed apps for streaming content.

We’ve never beaten around the bush when it comes to Vizio’s rather basic SmartCast platform, the suite of streaming apps built into many of the company’s TVs. Most of the time the platform works just fine, though we still generally prefer solutions like Roku or Apple TV. But overall it’s a very welcome addition to a TV in this price range.

Vizio’s SmartCast makes the D-Series into a veritable content machine. All you need is electricity and Wi-Fi, and this (literally) totable little TV delivers a solid range of apps right to your eyes, including Apple TV+. Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video.

And that’s the best thing about SmartCast here: it’s really just a collection of apps with no extra bloat like browsers or calendars you won’t use. Many apps are pre-installed, but you can install/uninstall from the Vizio SmartCast app collection as you choose.

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
Pretty much all of the mainstream content streaming apps are available—just remember that you still need a subscription to use most of them.

As you might guess from the name, SmartCast also functions almost identically to Chromecast, allowing many mobile device apps to find the TV as a castable screen and send content directly to it over Wi-Fi. The D-Series shows up in my phone as “Office TV,” and casting worked as expected.

Some of our favorite smart TVs have Roku built right in, which is great. But from a content/app perspective, you’re not losing out on anything here except perhaps a slightly more streamlined navigation experience. One issue you might run into has to do with processor power/processing speed over time: one or two years on, the D-Series’ SmartCast experience may be a touch sluggish. It’s already just a smidge slower than I’d prefer fresh out of the box, and these things don’t tend to speed up over time.

Finally, smart home lovers will be happy to know that even the basic D-Series is equipped to operate alongside Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Hey Google.

What we don’t like

Not very future-proof

There are a lot of conditions where the D-Series TV isn't going to let you take advantage of the latest content advances. There’s a ton of 4K/HDR content available across services like Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, and even some cable providers, and you won’t be able to experience that here—not in any way that matters. You can still watch all the same content as everything else, but the TV can't actually show any of the newer advances from the last few years.

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
If you lock into buying a D-Series model, just keep in mind that there's a whole swath of new content out there—stuff in 4K/HDR/Dolby Vision, for example—that you won't be able to take advantage of.

This is especially relevant for gamers: even the now last-generation Xbox One S/X and PlayStation 4 Pro consoles could output in 4K/HDR, so anyone with an Xbox Series S/X or PlayStation 5 won't really be able to take advantage of their pricy new console. While the D4-Series offers you AMD FreeSync tech to make for a smoother gaming experience, the basic D-Series only gets you Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), which is all but negligible on a 60Hz TV: it generally only varies between 48Hz and 60Hz, which is something you’re unlikely to notice often. VRR tends to be of much higher value when included on a 120Hz TV.

Of course, this is true for almost any TV in this price range. However, if you can track down the 2019 TCL 4-Series, you can get the 43-inch version for around $250-$350, which is a fairly big step up, but will net you newer picture quality enhancements such as 4K resolution and HDR compatibility.

Should you buy it?

Yes—if you just want a portable content machine

It’d be easy to tell you to throw more money at a TV that did more, but realistically, if all you need is a perfectly functioning TV without the (expensive) addition of 4K resolution, HDR color, advanced gaming features, or local dimming backlights, the 2021 D-Series won't let you down. The portable, sleek, apps-stuffed D-Series is competing mostly with off-brand sets (think Insignia, Element, and so on), and in this size/price range, I’m willing to bet it's one of the best. Kudos to Vizio for the added market flexibility here: The D-Series is a welcome option in an ecosystem where TV manufacturers only seem to update 55-inch or larger TVs—and not all of us have room for those.

The D-Series is especially valuable because of the dearth of 24-to-40-inch options from name-brand manufacturers: you’d be hard-pressed to find TVs of this size from Samsung, Sony, or LG unless you start tracking down models from 3-5 years ago. If you’re looking for as high-quality an experience as you can get for under $300, the D-Series is a good starting point. It's also an especially good choice for gamers with older hardware just looking for something decent to play on, since you won't get the input lag traditionally introduced by upscaling to 4K.

However, you should be aware of your options if you're willing to spend a little more and/or search a little harder. If you were interested in the 43-inch D-Series, for example, you might also consider the slightly older 43-inch TCL 4-Series, which costs $80-$90 more but gets you 4K resolution, HDR compatibility, and more overall brightness. If you were aiming for a 32-inch TV and want to put it in a room that's brighter than average, the 32-inch TCL 3-Series is almost the same price and is also a good bit brighter overall—and also packs an extra HDMI input. Just remember that brightness isn't everything: between the two, the D-Series is the better choice for movie night.