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Vizio embraces Windows 8 in 2013, but clings to suspect industrial design

In just its second year as a PC manufacturer, Vizio seems primed to dive right into the fray when it comes to Windows 8 – but only if it can overcome lingering concerns about the industrial design of its models. In 2012, Vizio boasted relatively reasonable prices and gorgeous, high-resolution screens, but faced criticism over the tactile experience of their computers. Now,  the company’s 2013 lineup of PCs all come standard with 10-point touchscreens and quad-core processors – an optimal setup for Windows 8 – yet they fail to show much in the way of design innovation.

Newly on offer are two “Thin + Light” ultrabooks, a 14-inch and a 15.6-inch, as well as two “All-in-One Touch” desktops, a 24-inch and a 27-inch. The Thin + Lights showcase a sleek, brushed-aluminum unibody chassis that’s a clear nod to the Macbook Air, while the All-in-Ones pair a floating, rounded-edge monitor (the computer is all in the base) with a silvery, cube-sized subwoofer barely larger than a fist.

First, the good: Vizio deserves props for outfitting all new PCs with Microsoft Signature, a lean, bloatware-free OS that Microsoft itself calls “the cleanest Windows 8 experience with no junkware installed.” For the first time, Vizio is also offering customers a choice between AMD and Intel quad-core processors (except the 27-inch All-in-One, which is Intel-only). Finally, almost all models come with a crisp 1080p screen, except for the 14-inch Thin + Light, which shaves off a few centimeters by opting instead for a 1600×900 screen – still not at all shabby for an ultrabook.

Now, the bad: Vizio’s initial computing offering suffered from keyboard and trackpad design that left a lot to be desired. According to Engadget, the new products appear to suffer from the same issues. As the 2013 lineup is slated for release around mid-February, we’ll have to wait until then to see if there have been notable improvements. Meanwhile, Vizio has also announced their first foray into Windows 8 tablets with an 11.6-inch device priced at approximately $800, considerably cheaper than competing models. Hopefully their ultrabooks and desktops will remain similarly competitively priced.

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