HDTV maker Vizio has intriguing ultrabooks

I didn't think much of the news that Vizio was getting into the PC business. The company is best known for its HDTVs, which probably line the shelves of your local Costco and Walmart. A popular line of big-screen TVs doesn't exactly set up one for success in the PC industry, though.

After reading The Verge's inside look at the development of Vizio's PCs, I'm a little more interested. Turns out Vizio is an American company with a pretty clear sense of what it wants to do in the PC space: produce a handful of good products and sell loads of 'em. Vizio is targeting the gap between sub-$600 systems and those living north of $1200. The firm doesn't want to compete directly with Apple, but it thinks "premium Windows consumers" are ripe for the taking.

Vizio seems to have the right priorities on the product front. "We care about picture quality," says CTO Matt McRae, who also seems to know a thing or two about what makes a good keyboard and touchpad. Interestingly, Vizio PCs will be sold devoid of unnecessary stickers—something that apparently involved a bit of a battle with Intel and Microsoft. There won't be any software bloat, either, just a clean copy of Windows with Microsoft Signature certification.

The first PCs to bear Vizio's name are available for pre-order through the company's site. Among them, the 14" ultrabook looks the most intriguing. The $950 base Ivy Bridge configuration comes with a Core i5-3317U CPU, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of solid-state storage, and a 1600x900 display all wrapped in a unibody aluminum enclosure. Upgrade to the 15.6" version, and the display resolution jumps to 1080p. You'll have to make do with Intel integrated graphics, though an Nvidia GPU is available on Vizio's beefier 15-incher, which lacks some of the attributes required for ultrabook status.

While Vizio's industrial design has clear Cupertino influences, I've gotta give it to the company for doing things a little differently than other PC makers. It's nice to see a lineup devoid of 1366x768 displays, trialware bloat, and excessive stickers—well, one that doesn't bear Apple's name, anyway.

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