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Hands on with the Vizio 11.6-inch tablet featuring Windows 8

Vizio only started making computers recently, but it’s already getting into the Windows 8 slate market with a new 11.6-inch model. The idea behind the product is to offer an uncompromised Windows experience, a full HD display, and a fanless design. It achieved this by going with an AMD chip inside. The result is a solid Windows 8 tablet that we’re interested to see once it comes out in the spring. However, there are some aspects that concern us.

This tablet is clearly a Vizio product and shares a lot of elements with the laptop line, from the ultra generic name – Vizio 11.6-inch Tablet PC featuring Windows 8 – to the somewhat sharp edges. Overall, the design looks quite nice; minimal but not bland. At 1.8 pounds, it’s not too heavy for an 11-inch slate and the body is a thin 0.4 inches. We’re also fans of the rubberized, soft touch back which helps with grip and comfort. Sadly, with the edges so sharp, it’s not a completely comfortable tablet to hold. This can be an issue with aluminum frames, we know. Still, we’d love to see Vizio find a way to minimize this problem.

Up front, the IPS display offers impressive viewing angles and color depth. It goes perfectly with the full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution – watching video on this will be pretty sweet. Speakers sit on the sides of the unit and can be obscured by the hands, but you’ll want to set it down for extended video sessions, anyway. The screen offers 10 points of touch and didn’t seem too prone to smudges during our hands-on time.

Vizio wanted to offer full Windows 8 and not Windows RT (and for that we’re thankful) along with this high resolution and it wanted to go with a thin, fanless design. That took Intel’s processors out of the running. Instead, the company is going with an AMD Z-60 APU backed by 2GB of RAM. This chip combines processor and a Radeon HD GPU in one, and this drives the 1080p display. AMD’s performance doesn’t always impress next to Intel, but for a tablet of this type the balance may be just right.

This is very likely to be the case for the target audience. Though it runs full Windows 8, this tablet isn’t for power users. There are only two ports, micro HDMI and Micro USB. Internal storage tops out at 64GB on an SSD. Mainstream users who pull most of their data from the cloud will be fine with this setup.

Vizio expects to start selling the 11.6-inch Tablet PC featuring Windows 8 around the end of March. It hasn’t settled on pricing yet, so we’ll have to wait until later this spring to find out how much it will cost.