I saw a lot of Ultrabooks at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, but Vizio’s Thin + Light laptops stood out. Being in Vizio’s quiet press room with no distractions probably helped, but I think there are a few better reasons why these svelte laptops — which Vizio isn’t calling Ultrabooks — have me more excited than most others:
They Don’t Look Like the MacBook Air
Vizio’s Thin + Light laptops use a deeper shade of aluminum than the MacBook Air, and taper less aggressively, at sharper angles. The keyboard consists of rectangular keys that sit flush with one another, instead of the island-style keys with rounded edges that most Ultrabooks are using. The result is an almost sterile aesthetic that I actually find refreshing.
The Track Pad Acts Like the MacBook Air, Almost
One thing other Ultrabook makers have repeatedly failed at is the track pad, but Vizio seems to have gotten it right. The pad has a matte finish, instead of the glass on Apple’s laptops, but they were still easy to glide a finger on. More importantly, Vizio borrowed two ideas that make Apple track pads a pleasure to use: two-finger scrolling, and clicking the pad with two fingers to simulate a right mouse click. I have no idea why those things aren’t industry standard.
The Screen Isn’t Skimped On
When laptop makers look to cut costs, the display is usually the first thing to get downgraded. Not here. Vizio’s using FullHD displays in its Thin + Light machines, so you needn’t tilt the screen to minimize uneven lighting.
Hopefully, Prices Won’t Be Astronomical
Any company can make a pretty laptop if the budget’s high enough. What Vizio threatens to do, if its history with HDTVs is any indication, is upend the established PC market with previously unthinkable prices. Vizio isn’t yet talking prices for its Thin + Light laptops, so we don’t know how cost competitive the company will be. If the 14-inch and 15.6-inch laptops I saw can clear the $800 and $900 barriers, other PC makers will have reason to worry.
One other concern: Vizio isn’t talking about processors, storage, RAM or other nitty gritty specs yet. But these days, you’ve really got to cut corners to come up with a laptop that isn’t adequate for mainstream computing. Hopefully that’s not a fact Vizio is hiding from us.
More photos of Vizio’s Thin + Light laptops below: