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Vizio takes 4K mainstream with launch of $999.99 P-Series TV

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Vizio has just announced that the P-Series 4K LED HDTV line we first saw way back at CES is now available. And it starts at only $999.99 for the 50-inch model, a price point that instantly takes 4K viewing to the mainstream and makes the pixel-rich displays affordable for average consumers. The top-of-the-line 70-inch model is $2,499, so these sets are cheap and aggressively undercut just about every major TV manufacturer out there. That's been Vizio's game so far and has made the company a force to be reckoned with in the TV market, so it's no surprise to see the those cutthroat pricing tactics move into 4K. Yet somehow Vizio isn't slouching on specs. Like its current 1080p E-Series, heralded as "unbeatable" for the price, Vizio has delivered an impressive product here.

The P-Series features Full-Array LED backlighting, where the set's backlighting is uniformity distributed across 72 LED zones spanning the entire back panel rather than being placed around the edges. And the TVs are capable of local dimming, dynamically adjusting the amount of backlight in any given area to achieve deeper blacks. It's still not plasma, but plasma's dead and almost gone now, so Vizio is doing its best to make sure you give it a look whenever your Panasonic or Samsung TV finally gives up the ghost.

Vizio undercuts on price, but remains mindful of specs

Obviously there have to be some concessions here; Sony and Samsung will each have plenty to say about why their own, more expensive 4K TVs are a better buy. Vizio itself is offering a step up for free-spending home theater enthusiasts with the stunning Reference Series; there's still no word on when you'll be able to buy one of those. And remember that Vizio's 2014 TVs don't support 3D playback, but that omission was a conscious choice that helped lower the price on these products even further.

4K content is getting easier to come by, too; Netflix is still your primary source, but its catalog is growing (albeit slowly) and Amazon plans to offer 4K video later this year.  Both of those apps can be streamed on the P-Series. The main takeaway is this: 4K TVs aren't new, but Vizio is here now. And when a $999 4K TV has floor space at Walmart, that's (hopefully) going to push companies to move even faster in getting 4K movies and TV shows out there. None of it will happen overnight, but if the 4K wars hadn't "officially' started before, they most certainly have now. You can pre-order the P-Series at Vizio's website today, and they'll be rolling out to Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart before long.