Yes, we used "Vizio" and "premium" in the same sentence.
Who would have thought that Vizio would make a splash in the PC market, and do so at a time when tablets and smartphones are all the rage? Vizio made its move into PC territory last June by introducing a line of all-in-one systems and Ultrabooks with unibody designs similar in style to Apple's MacBook Air (but at a fraction of the cost), and now it's refreshing its lineup with upgraded features, including touchscreen panels for Windows 8.
When Vizio entered the PC market last year, we didn’t quite know what to expect. The company has left quite the competitive mark on the TV industry, driving prices to levels few expected. The company’s lineup of Ultrabooks were fairly standard from an industrial design standpoint, but as our very own Paul Lilly pointed out, its the 1080p displays that really set them apart.
Vizio probably isn't the first company that comes to mind when you think about pre-built PCs, and it might not even be on your PC shopping radar at all. Well, if you aren't aware, Vizio started selling PCs a few months back, and was one of the first to offer an Ultrabook with a Full HD 1080p (1920x1080) screen resolution. Evidently happy with its foray into PC sales, Vizio has announced its holiday PC lineup, which consists of Windows 8-equipped all-in-one (AIO) systems, a pair of Ultrabooks, and a notebook, all of which are part of the bloat-free Microsoft Signature for Windows program.
As much as we're in love with the Ultrabook category's thin and light form factor, we're not nearly as smitten over the low display resolution that plagues the majority of first and second generation models. Even larger models like Acer's 15.6-inch Timeline and HP's equally sized Envy both sport 1366x768 screen resolutions, while Samsung's 15-inch Series 9 taps out at 1600x900. Well, as luck would have it, I stumbled upon Vizio's online collection of PCs, including a 15.6-inch Ultrabook model that finally gets the resolution right.
Back at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year, Vizio announced its intentions of branching out into home computers, an interesting move for a company that ships more LCD HDTVs in the U.S. than anyone else. Well, Vizio made good on its promise today by officially announcing a line of all-in-one desktop models, a notebook, and a pair of thin-and-light laptops, all of which start at $898. Price is only part of the story here.
Vizio will take a step towards ditching its reputation as strictly a value driven brand when it launches its upcoming CinemaWide 58-inch HDTV with Theater 3D technology next month. It's due in stores just in time for the NCAA's March Madness college basketball tournament and will set shoppers back a cool $3,500, about three times more expensive than some regular 55-inch HDTVs on the market.
A couple of days back, Microsoft announced plans for new Kinect hardware specially tailored for PCs, something we faithfully reported to you that very same day. But the motion sensing camera, which holds a world record for being the fastest selling consumer electronics item in history, is now rumored to be headed to “next-generation television sets” as well.
A strong fourth quarter helped Vizio maintain its lead in the U.S. LCD TV market, which now claims a 27.6 percent market share, according to data released by iSuppli. Vizio shipped 2.9 million LCD TVs in the fourth quarter, up 78.9 percent from 1.6 million in the third quarter, and has been sitting on top for all of 2010. Coming in second place is Samsung, which claims a 20.2 percent share of the market.
Passive 3D has never impressed us, but Vizio’s new Theater 3D HDTVs have managed to reopen our minds about the technology.
Passive 3D offers numerous advantages: Passive glasses don’t reduce brightness nearly as much as active-shutter glasses do, they’ll never give you a headache, they don’t rely on batteries, they’re lighter, and they’re a whole lot cheaper. And Vizio’s technology is RealD compatible, so you use the same glasses at the theater that you do at home.
But none of that matters if you don’t get a great 3D experience, and what we saw at Vizio’s booth yesterday really impressed us.