VIZIO CT14-A4 Review and Ratings
Introduction & Design
Five months ago, we marked HDTV maker Vizio's entry into the PC market with a review of the CT14-A2 Thin + Light ultrabook—and concluded our writeup of that $1,099 Intel Core i7 portable by suggesting that, for most users, the adequately Core i5-powered CT14-A1 might be a better deal at $849.
Now we've got our hands on the A1's successor, the Vizio CT14-A4. Still priced at $849, the new ultrabook differs from the original in two ways: it comes with Windows 8 instead of Windows 7 preinstalled, and it features revamped touch pad hardware and software to address some gripes about the first generation's input experience.
It does not, however, feature a touch screen as up-to-the-minute Windows 8 ultrabooks like the Sony VAIO T Series 13 and HP Envy TouchSmart 4t-1100$826.54 at HP Direct do. That, along with a choice of AMD or Intel processing power, is coming in the spring 2013 lineup that Vizio unveiled at CES, so it makes it hard to recommend buying the CT14-A4 right away: You may want to hold out for the touch-screen model, or at least see if the arrival of the latter brings a price cut for the non-touch Vizio.
Vizio is known for value in the HDTV market, and the company has carried that tradition into the ultrabook and all-in-one desktop space. Most under-$900 Windows ultrabooks feature 13.3-inch screens with 1,366x768 resolution, along with a fair share of plastic in their construction. The CT14-A4 Thin + Light flaunts a 14-inch display with 1,600x900 resolution, and takes after Apple's MacBook Air with sleek anodized aluminum unibody design. Its stainless-steel-appliance look is punctuated by an illuminated Vizio logo on the lid and by grippable black soft-touch paint on the bottom.
As we said of the CT14-A2, the Vizio ultrabook looks like a cross between the wedge-profiled MacBook Air and slab-sided MacBook Pro. Its sleek sides are decorated by the bare minimum number of ports: on the left a USB 3.0 port and a headphone/microphone jack, on the right a second USB 3.0 port and an HDMI video output. Unfortunately, that's it—while there's 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, there's no wired Ethernet port for old-school network connections or VGA port for old-school monitors and projectors. Worse, there's no memory-card slot.
At 3.4 pounds, the Vizio is a few ounces heavier than our ideal for an ultrabook, but not so heavy you'll notice while toting your briefcase around town (and again, that's with a 14- instead of 13.3-inch display). The laptop measures 13.4x0.7x9.1 inches.
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