Vizio CA24T-A4 review: Pretty face, lacks substance

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The Good The Vizio CA24T-A4 has a low-profile appearance and some useful connectivity options.

The Bad Not every all-in-one looks as clean as this Vizio, but others offer better features for a similar price.

The Bottom Line A touch screen and Windows 8 can't defuse the impression that the Vizio CA24T-A4 all-in-one was designed primarily for retail shelf appeal.

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6.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 5
  • Performance 6
  • Support 7

The Vizio CA24T-A4 seems to have all the ingredients of an ideal Windows 8 PC. A touch screen, a wireless touch pad, and sleek, low-profile looks -- you might think it's an easy recommendation. The problem is that Vizio has focused too much on appearances, and not enough on build quality and overall value. Look into the Vizio CA24T-A4 if design is a primary concern, but for anyone focused on value and features-for-the-dollar, Asus and others offer more-compelling alternatives in the same price range.

The primary stories about the CA24T are that it's one of Vizio's first Windows 8-equipped all-in-ones, and also one of the first with a touch screen. Those features are both common enough now, but the fact that this system ships with a touch pad instead of a mouse gives the Vizio some added cachet. Like perhaps no other all-in-one out there, Vizio seems committed to touch-based input.

If you already use a touch pad on a PC, you may feel right at home with the Vizio. For those of us in the mouse-using majority, get ready to adapt to both a new input device and a new operating system.

Vizio doesn't deserve too much criticism for leaving out a mouse from its all-in-ones. You can remedy the problem cheaply, if not for free, and be on your way. The touch pad also seems to work better in Windows 8 than it did in Vizio's Windows 7-based CA27; it recognizes one- and two-finger input responsively enough, although it does not support the complete Windows 8 gesture language. For mouse users not yet acclimated to Windows 8, though, it means your first interactions with the CA24T will be awkward and uncertain while you try to master two changes to your computing comfort zone.

In addition to the touch pad, Vizio also lets you interact with Windows 8 via the CA24T's touch-screen display. The edge-to-edge glass ensures that you have full access to every interactive part of the screen, and the responsiveness is mostly satisfactory. I noticed some input lag and some drag while playing Air Hockey, but for general poking around, the screen is usable.

If the occasional unregistered input doesn't bother you, you may still wish that the screen could recline more. Windows 8 all-in-ones from Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and others give you 60 or 90 degrees of front-to-back adjustablity. The Vizio's range of motion is more like 35 degrees.

Vizio CA24T-A4 Asus ET2300INTI
Price $1,249 $1,299
Display size/resolution 24-inch, 1,920x1,080 23-inch, 1,920x1,080
CPU 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 3210M 3.0GHz Intel Core i5 3330
Memory 6GB 1,333MHZ DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHZ DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 32MB Intel HD Graphics 4000 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT630M
Hard drives 1TB, 5,400rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive None Dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Operating system Windows 8 (64-bit) Windows 8 (64-bit)

My larger complaint about the Vizio CA24T comes down to its price, and the sacrifices Vizio made for the slim design.

Compare the Vizio with the Asus above and you'll see that the Asus system has better components in almost every aspect. Vizio has the edge in screen size by an inch, but otherwise, from CPU speed to hard-disk rotational speed, to system memory and graphics chip capability, the Asus is simply a better computer for only $50 more. Not depicted on this list, the Asus system also has integrated Intel wireless display support, as well as two Thunderbolt ports. You can also drop down the Asus' touch screen so that it lies completely flat.

Ultimately, the Vizio's problems and advantages come down to its laptop motherboard and chipset. It's that smaller scale, lower-power circuitry that allows the Vizio such a small base unit. It also accounts for the slower components and the higher price. The Asus system and its desktop chipset produce just the opposite kind of all-in-one: faster, with more power and cooling needs (which leads to the larger base), and a more affordable price relative to its capabilities.

Your preference will, of course, depend on your taste, but for overall computer for the dollar, the Asus is the clear winner between these two desktops.

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