Over the last few months I've been recommending Vizio TV's so much that a lot of my friends are starting to wonder if I'm getting kickbacks from the company. For the record I'm not getting kick backs it's just that I had a very positive experience with one of their TV's a few months back and I get the feeling the company cares about their customers before and after they make the purchase. Dan and I met with the folks from Vizio and got a chance to check out their new products for 2008.
First up was their new Hybrid series of LCD's which can serve double duty as a television and as a computer monitor. The screens have a very different look than the rest of the Vizio line as they have rounded edges and a nice brushed aluminum finish. The screens will support a max resolution of 1920 X 1200 (full 1080p for the television only folks) and feature the standard complement of inputs as well as a television tuner. These are ideal for college students who want everything in one screen or a family who needs a second TV and computer monitor (i.e. relationship savers). The monitors will come in a 25.5", 26", 32", and 37" models and should be available mid year.
Up next we got to check out Vizio's new Black Tie line of televisions. These TV's were the reasons I was glad that John had something else booked as they featured Vizio's new 120Hz refresh rate technology. You see every time John and I make a run to Best Buy we walk by the TV section and John is mesmerized by the new 120Hz TV's from Samsung and Sony. John will literally stand there for 10 minutes, transfixed by the picture. The folks at Vizio didn't want to put the 120Hz technology in their TV's until it was perfect and to do that they had to introduce a new chip into the mix to help smooth the picture out a bit. The chip is called the Motion Estimation, Motion Compensation (MEMC) and it helps to smooth the picture on the screen. To demonstrate what the chip did they showed a standard 60Hz TV, and then a TV with the chip in it running in a split screen mode with one side having the MEMC chip turned off. The difference was amazing because there is a small digitized "halo" around objects in motion on the non enhanced section that you really didn't notice until you see it in action.
The Black Tie series has another cool feature which is that they have a center channel built in along with the two front channels Vizio will be offering a separate kit that has a pair of wireless rear speakers and a sub-woofer in it so you can get a true 5.1 experience without having to buy a receiver. Outside of these two cool features the TV's will support 1080p and come in a 42" and 47" models. I'm guessing this will be a hot seller when they are released later this year (John's already stocking away money for one)
The last big item at Vizio's booth was a 60" 1080p plasma TV. Sure 60" plasma's are a bit on the old side even with a full complement of HDMI and component inputs but what makes this one special is that Vizio is going to be selling it for under $3000. That's right, a 60" plasma for less than three grand.
Vizio did have a few other things going on in their booth including their new VW line that they will be selling but the new multimedia monitors, Black Tie models, and plasma series left the biggest impression on me. I was also impressed with Vizio's customer focus and how much they care about delivering quality products for a good price.