Vizio CN15

Vizio's debut mid-sized laptop aims to deliver power, performance, and style on a reasonable budget.

Dan Ackerman
Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
2 min read

Vizio made its name in the budget TV space, and now the company is hoping to expand its horizons into the PC world.

The CN15, a 15.6-inch laptop aimed at high-end power users, is one of three new computer lines the company launched today at a New York press event. The Vizio CT14 and CT15 thin-and-light laptops, and the CA24 and CA27 all-in-one desktop PCs round out the TV maker's computer offerings.

Vizio's surprisingly stylish CN15 laptop (pictures)

See all photos

First glimpsed at CES 2012, these new systems mix high-end components (including the latest Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs and dedicated Nvidia graphics chips) with slick designs, featuring unibody construction, hidden hinges, and full HD displays.

The Vizio CN15 is available in three configurations: the A0, A1, and A2, differentiated by CPU and RAM. The available options are as follows:

  • 15.6-inch full HD 1080p display (1920 x 1080 max)
  • Intel Core i3/Intel Core i5-3210M/Intel Core i7-3610QM
  • 4GB/8GB RAM
  • Nvidia GeForce 640M LE
  • 500GB/1TB/1TB hybrid w/32GB SSD

The base model starts at $898, which sounds like a lot for a Core i3 laptop, but the design does look comparatively upscale. Each configuration has two USB 3.0 ports, along with Bluetooth, HDMI, and other standard ports and connections.

At Vizio's New York launch event, the The Vizio CN15 was the only new model not shown off in person. But, based on the press photos and the visually similar thin-and-light models, it looks like a laptop might if one were designing it from scratch, and not building off of years of legacy products, as can happen with companies that have years or decades of PC-making history.

On all the laptops, the branding is pleasingly subtle, and the clutter-free interior designs could make them especially well-suited for multimedia and movie watching.

There's a very deliberate aesthetic minimalism to the Vizio laptops, with large clickpad-style touch pad underneath a keyboard, power button, and speaker grille, and nothing else. The keyboard has tightly packed, flat-topped keys, a different look from the majority of current laptops, which have widely spaced island-style keys. Individual key shape and spacing aside, the parallels to a MacBook Pro are hard to ignore.

Adding discrete graphics, even to the lower-end configurations, is a bold move, but definitely helps the CN15 stand out from other laptops in that crowded sub-$1,000 midsize laptop pool.

Coming just days after Apple's super-thin MacBook Pro with Retina display, this may be the start of a new school of thinner 15-inch laptops with graphics cards.

Look for full CNET reviews of the new Vizio PCs in the near future.

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