Smart TVs are basically dumb PCs, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Vizio—one of the world’s most successful HDTV manufacturers—plans to grow by jumping into the all-in-one PC market. The Vizio CA24T-A4 is a surprisingly good rookie effort, but there is room for improvement.
The tiny keyboard delivers surprisingly good tactile feedback.
The 24-inch, 10-point touchscreen display is crisp, clear, and very thin (about .75 inches). It’s an MVA (multi-domain vertical alignment) model, with an LED backlight. Resolution is 1920x1080 pixels, which is typical of this class of machine (Vizio also offers higher-end models with 27-inch displays at the same resolution).
The display is mounted to a thin stalk rising from the pizza-box base that houses the machine’s guts. The display can tilt from minus-5 degrees to plus-20 degrees, which is fine for using the PC from a seated position, but it doesn’t tilt back far enough to use the machine while standing. Unlike the displays on the Asus ET2300 and Lenovo A720, it can’t be folded flat. It also doesn’t pivot or swivel left to right.
The CA24T-A4’s base is incredibly small—at just 1-inch high, it’s even thinner than the svelte Lenovo A720—but Vizio removed two important components to achieve that profile: The computer has neither a discrete GPU nor an optical drive. You won’t mind integrated graphics unless you’re a hardcore gamer, and the absence of an optical drive won’t matter if you acquire your movies, music, games, and other software online. But Intel’s dual-core 2.5GHz Core i5-3210M CPU and its HD4000 graphics is a 98-pound weakling when it comes to modern gaming with eye candy turned up, and we were grateful to have a USB DVD drive on hand to install some of our benchmarks. Gaming performance on the box could have been helped with higher-clocked RAM, but alas, Vizio went with DDR3/1333.
Vizio outfitted the CA24T-A4 with four USB 3.0 ports, two HDMI inputs (so you can connect both a satellite/cable set-top box and a gaming console or Blu-ray drive), and an eSATA port (which we’d happily trade for Thunderbolt for forward-looking compatibility). Everything except one USB port is in the back of the machine, so you won’t have ugly cables sticking out of its side; and unlike many AiOs we’ve tested, Vizio doesn’t hijack any of its USB ports to host a wireless dongle for keyboard and mouse. Actually, Vizio doesn’t put a mouse in the box—it provides a wireless multitouch trackpad, instead. Vizio tells us that this is to take advantage of Windows 8 gestures, but we can’t say we’re enthused about it: Trackpads are necessary on laptops, but they don’t deliver a lot of benefit paired with a desktop rig (unless you’re using the PC from the couch, and that’s an unlikely scenario with just a 24-inch display).
Vizio’s all-in-one delivers much better sound than we’ve heard from most computers, thanks in part to the presence of a subwoofer cleverly integrated into the computer’s detached power supply (Asus offers a sub for its all-in-ones, but at additional cost with most models). There’s a volume control and an HDMI toggle switch conveniently integrated into both the keyboard and the remote control. That’s a much better solution than integrating these features into the display, as Asus and Lenovo do. You can also use the HDMI display without needing to power up the computer (the keyboard controls don’t function in this situation, but the remote does).
The Vizio CA24T-A4 delivered very weak benchmark numbers. If you care about performance, the similarly priced Asus E2300 crushes it, thanks to its higher base clock, larger cache, and dedicated GPU. But if you anticipate using the Vizio’s HDMI display capabilities as much as its computing power, it’s the better buy.