(NEW YORK) — When you hear “Vizio,” you likely think about the affordable HDTVs lining the aisles at Costco, Sam’s Club and other retailers. But very soon you might start associating the company with computers.
On Thursday Vizio launched a new line of Windows 7 computers, including two thin and light laptops, one standard laptop and two all-in-one desktop computers. All of the machines start at just $898.
“Vizio is launching a PC product line with premium design, ultra-thin form factors, and best in class performance,” Vizio CTO Matt McRae told ABC News.
But McRae is determined to set Vizio apart from the other companies, like Dell and HP, which are all vying for a piece of the Windows computer market. And one of the ways it plans to do that is through clean installs of Windows. All of the new Vizio PCs will have Microsoft’s Signature edition of Windows 7, which means it won’t be preloaded with any ads or third-party software when you get it out of the box.
“The software image is fully optimized and contains no bloatware that can ruin the customer experience and reduces overall system performance,” McRae stressed.
Other PC makers offer the Signature experience, but they only offer them on limited models and at limited locations. Vizio’s new computers will be available at Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Target, Amazon.com and Microsoft’s own store.
But Vizio has also differentiated itself in another way, and that’s with the cost, performance and design balance. The Vizio Thin+Light laptops come in two varieties — one with a 14-inch screen and another with a 15.6-inch screen — and start at just $898.
Considered to be ultrabooks (Intel’s designated term for a new category of thin laptops), the machines are made of aluminum and the bottom case is coated in a soft-touch rubber material. The laptops are powered by the latest Intel processors and have fast solid-state drives.
ABC News got a look at the 15.6-inch model earlier Thursday and the system boots up in less than 30 seconds. It also had a nice matte (or non-glossy) screen and a comfortable keyboard. The laptop felt quite sturdy, especially for its price.
Vizio will offer another laptop, called the Vizio Notebook, which is thicker than the Thin+Light models, but has faster Nvidia graphics. Select models will also have full 1080p HD screens.
Rounding out the new line of computers are two all-in-one desktops. There are 24- and 27-inch models, both of which have 1080p HD displays, HDMI inputs for connecting cable boxes and game consoles, and SRS sound.
And that’s the last place Vizio is hoping to stand out. “And as consumers increasingly use their computers for entertainment and internet streaming, the Vizio PCs will provide an unmatched video and audio experience,” McRae added.
Vizio launched its own $299 Android tablet last year. The product was hampered by a number of issues, including outdated software and slow performance. However, this time Vizio doesn’t want to just be another one in the crop, even if it is new to the block.
“If you rewind eight to ten years ago, the TV market looked similar to the PC space today,” McRae said. “It was a mature market with lots of companies. We did pretty well. We are now the number one TV company in the United States. We’ve done this before. “
The whole line of Vizio PCs will be available in the coming weeks.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Menser, BizMojo Idaho
Erin McClam, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN