The last thing Vizio executives wanted to talk about last night was the pricing of their brand new, all-in-one desktop computers and laptops. But who could blame them?
Vizio now claims a 30 percent market share in LCD flat panel TVs, bragged founder/CEO William Wang and has "40 million product users." But everyone (especially competitors) knows that the company cuts its TV profit margins to the bone to pull off the feat. Now with its belated entry into the crowded and already cut-throat PC business, the company is clearly hoping to go "up-market," pushing power, features and styling first,
So then when you finally do hear the prices - starting at $899 for a 24-inch all-in-one desktop, a 14-inch "thin and light" portable (with 128 GB SSD) or a 15.6 notebook - you won't wince.
Two years in the development, the line also includes a 27-inch all-in-one and 15.6-inch thin-and-light (aka Ultrabook.)
Adding credibility, the products have been developed with lots of support from Microsoft - contributing an unusally clean, bloatware-free version of Windows 7 and 90 days of after sale support. And Intel is sharing its' latest Ivy Bridge processors and Ultrabook reference design to keep the "slim and light" laptops running cool.
Vizio also touts superior entertainment value in its first PC products with high definition screens, a fast NVIDIA Kepler-Class GEForce GPU for clean video and gaming images, SRS optimized sound and a nifty little desktop subwoofer that doubles as the power source for the all-in-one.
I also like how the desktops have twp HDMI inputs for video products (cable box, Blu-ray player, game system) and work with a little remote control "just like a TV" even when the computer is turned off.
So yeah, the feature set/value proposition appears quite good.
And just staring at these sleek, aluminum-clad things, you know the designers were thinking "Apple aspirations at a more affordable price." The all-in-one even has an Apple-like wireless touch pad replacing the traditional mouse and is even cleaner looking than the iMac from the rear view. All peripherals are wired to the slim line base (also hiding the computer's guts) "so you don't have any cables dangling down the back," noted McRae.
Walmart is getting behind the Vizio computers in a big way, shared a company exec. That makes me wonder how long the discount chain will hold the line on those suggested list prices. What's looking like a good value now might be a great deal by year's end. Amazon.com. Target, Sam's Club and Costco also will carry the line.
The other bg question is how well Vizio will stand behind these products and their buyers after the initial 90 days of Microsoft software support. "Many of the team at our Sioux City, South Dakota call center used to work for Gateway computers," said McRae. "We're ready to help."