Vizio's distinctive new lineup of laptops caught us by surprise back at CES in January — the company's first foray into the PC market — and its notebook and ultrabook models are available starting today, each starting at $898. Each of the three new laptop models includes an Ivy Bridge core, SSD, and an HD display. The Vizio Notebook model is the most powerful of the bunch, featuring an unspecified Nvidia Kepler GeForce GPU, plus a 15.6-inch 1080p display, and an aluminum unibody construction. Vizio is also offering two Thin + Light ultrabook models, each with up to a 256GB SSD, and aluminum unibody construction. The 14-inch Thin + Light model has a resolution of 1600 x 900, while the 15.6-inch model features a 1920 x 1080 display, and Vizio says that all three laptop models are good for up to seven hours on a battery charge. We're still waiting on detailed specifications and a list of options for all three models, and will update you as soon as they are made available.
"We've been designing these products for over two years."
Update: Vizio has just given us the opportunity to see the new laptops in-person. Yes, we've seen all of these before at CES, but the hardware is now final — this is what consumers will be getting into their hands if they order one of the machines today. Unfortunately (and inexplicably), only the "thin-and-light" models were on hand, in both the 15.6- and 14-inch varieties. Both machines feature unibody construction, but they're not nearly as hefty or solid-feeling as Apple's notebooks. That's not necessarily a bad thing — these are quite a bit cheaper. Vizio says that it designed and built the keyboards on the new systems completely from scratch (a nine month process), but unfortunately they aren't the best we've felt. They're a bit too shallow for our tastes, which means that there isn't quite enough feedback when you press a key. The trackpad also leaves a bit to be desired: its plastic construction means it's too "sticky," and it couldn't track two fingers independently (e.g. using one finger to click and another to drag). The displays on both models are bright and vibrant.
"We're going to put a stake in the sand."
Performance was also snappy — likely due in no small part to the SSDs and the Windows Signature installation, which means that these machines are thankfully bloatware-free. We're still waiting on complete specs, but the base 15.6-inch and 14-inch thin-and-light ultrabooks come with a Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD, and that's all upgradable to a 1.9GHz Core i7 and a 256GB SSD. We're not sure how much these will cost on the upper end, but they're starting at $898. Be sure to check below for a full gallery of hands-on pictures, including Windows Experience scores, and side-by-side shots with the new MacBook Pro with Retina display.
The 15.6-inch Notebook, meanwhile, has a 1080p display, Core i3 processor, Nvidia GT 640M LE Kepler GPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive at its $898 base price. You'll be able to bump that up (for an unspecified price) to a 2.3GHz, quad-core i7-3610QM, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and 32GB of flash storage. Both are said to get 6 hours of battery life, though we'll have to put them through the paces, of course.
T.C. Sottek contributed to this report.