When Vizio announced that it would be getting into the PC arena back in January, it teased us at CES with some intriguing product shots that included a couple of sleek-looking ultrabooks. Now that those new models have been officially unveiled, we know what's inside, and we're happy to report that the package seems pretty enticing.
Vizio's new Thin + Light looks a lot like other thin Intel ultrabooks we've seen over the last year: svelte, metal, and minimalist. An aluminum unibody construction inevitably brings the MacBook Air to mind, while the curves around the edges and side profile harken to the Samsung Series 5 Ultra and Series 9. At 0.66 inch thick, these are some of the thinner ultrabooks around.
Instead of making a 13-inch ultrabook, Vizio is bring the Thin + Light out in 14-inch and 15-inch sizes, a trend we've seen from other manufacturers.
Both the 14-inch and 15.6-inch CT14 and CT15 models come with third-gen Intel Core i-series processors: Intel Core i3, 1.7 GHz Intel Core i5-3317U, or 1.9 GHz Intel core i7-3517U. All models also have Bluetooth and SRS Premium Surround speakers. Unlike some larger ultrabooks, neither model has any discrete graphics or optical drives, relying on Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics instead. The keyboard, Vizio claims, was designed from scratch to feel improved over other laptops.
The CT-14 has a 14-inch 1,600x900-pixel display, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, a 720p Webcam, and 4GB of RAM, with either a 128GB or 256GB solid-state drive. The CT-15 has the same ports and RAM/storage options but a higher-resolution 1,920x1,080-pixel display.
Vizio rates the 15.6-inch CT-15 Thin + Light ultrabook as having between 5.5 and 6 hours of battery life, and the 14-inch CT-14 as up to 7 hours.
On the software side, Vizio proudly claims no pre-installed extra software whatsoever, with a clean "bloatware-free" feel. Pressing a Vizio "V" key on the keyboard will head toward a Web page with information on content partners such as Origin, Amazon Instant Video, and Netflix, with future special offers, according to Vizio's presentation.
Taking a closer hands-on look at the CT-14 and CT-15 at Vizio's New York event, the ultrabooks do feel premium: the top and sides feature the same sturdy aluminum construction as a MacBook Air, with a black rubberized underside that reminds us of the Dell XPS 13. The much-heralded keyboard actually feels like a throwback, a flat versus raised model that feels comfortable. The clickpad is smaller than an Air's, but very responsive based on some casual use. The 14-inch feels like the real winner, with a slightly larger screen in a body close to that of a 13-inch Air. The larger 15-inch CT-15 feels well-built, but it was hard to tell at first glance whether it was a thin full-powered laptop or a large-screened ultrabook.
The screens on all models are indeed impressive, too; bright and crisp, the viewing angles look better than what you'd see on most laptops or ultrabooks.
Vizio's Thin + Light ultrabooks will start at $898, the same starting price as Vizio's new fuller-size laptop and PC all-in-one. In an ultrabook, that's almost a bit high: new Windows ultrabooks have shown up from companies, including Sony, for $799 and lower. However, the Thin + Light is going up against the "premium" ultrabook market, and products like the XPS 13, MacBook Air, and HP Envy Spectre XT, all of which start at a slightly higher price.
Will Vizio's entries work as premium products? Right now, it looks promising. Stay tuned.