The Bottom Line
Dec 13 2012 - VIZIO's entry into the ultrabook market is certainly sleek and stylish thanks to its thin profile and aluminum profile. Most people will probably like the system for its high resolution display which is certainly better than what most companies have been using on their 14-inch ultrabooks. The downside is that the system has below average running times and a keyboard that is certainly not one of the better ones on the market for those that will be using it heavily.
- Very Thin and Light
- High Resolution Display
- Well Built Aluminum Frame
- Poor Keyboard Design
- Below Average Battery Life
- Lacks SD Card Slot or Ethernet Port
- Intel Core i5-3317U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 14" WSXGA+ (1600x900) Display With 1.3Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, HDMI
- 13.3" x 9.2" x .7" @ 3.4 lbs.
- Windows 8, Office Starter
Review - Vizio Thin + Light CT14A-A4
Dec 13 2012 - VIZIO's Thin + Light is the smaller of their two entries into the laptop computer market and is actually based around the ultrabook standard. The overall design is comparable to the Apple MacBook Air in the fact that it uses an aluminum shell with a thin overall profile. It isn't quite as thin on the front edge but does have one of the thinnest profiles at under seven tenths of an inch thick at the rear hinge. The biggest downside is that like the smaller 11-inch MacBook Air, there is limited space for peripheral ports and there is no SD card reader or Ethernet port.
Powering the VIZIO Thin + Light is the Intel Core i5-3317U dual core mobile processor. This is the lower voltage processor for ultrabooks and provides sufficient performance for the average user that will be browsing the web, reading email, watching streaming video or writing up some documents. With 4GB of DDR3 memory, it runs smoothly enough with the Windows 8 operating system. The downside here is that it features a sealed style chassis design that means that the memory can't be upgrade. The result is that it will struggle much more when dealing with more demanding applications such as desktop video editing.
While most of the 14-inch ultrabooks on the market have looked towards hybrid storage between a hard drive and a solid state drive for caching, the Thin + Light uses a straight solid state drive. This does mean that it has more limited storage space of just 128GB but it should provide more performance from the system. Boot times are around twenty two seconds for a cold boot and just a couple when waking from sleep. If you do need additional space, there are two available USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external storage devices. Like most ultrabooks, it does not feature any optical drive and no SD card slot as previously mentioned.
The big feature here for the VIZIO Thin + Light is the display. Many 14-inch ultrabooks have relied on the same basic resolution as 13-inch screens. VIZIO has put in a panel with a higher 1600x900 resolution that gives it more detail and working space than its rivals. The downside is that it still uses the average TN display panel technology that while fast in response times doesn't have the same level of color or viewing angles that you would see from the IPS panels of more premium ultrabooks from ASUS, Samsung or even Apple. The graphics are driven by the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are built into the Core i5 processor. This is fine for your basic 2D and limited 3D graphics but not something to consider if you are wanting to do 3D games. It also lacks the ability to accelerate a large number of non-3D applications but it does provide acceleration of media encoding when using Quick Sync applications.
The keyboard is probably the biggest issue that many people will have with the VIZIO Thin + Light design. Rather than an isolated layout that many companies are using, it uses a more traditional layout where the keys are right next to one another with a flat surface. This makes touch typing more difficult as your will end up pressing more than one key or just missing from time to time. The keyboard also lacks any backlighting which is more common of the premium ultrabooks. The trackpad uses a single surface which seems a bit short. It works just fine for single touch instances but the cramped space makes multitouch gestures with Windows 8 more difficult to do.
VIZIO does not publish what the capacity of the internal battery is within the Thin + Light model and instead just says that it can last up to seven hours. In digital video playback testing, it listed roughly five hours before going into standby mode. This is well below what the company projects and is on the lower end for ultrabooks that are equipped with solid state drives. In fact, the Dell XPS 14 ultrabook manages to run for six and a half hours and the Apple MacBook Pro 15 with Retina can achieve up to seven.
With its $950 price tag, there are a number of more premium oriented ultrabooks that can be directly compared to the Thin + Light. The closest in terms of pricing and features would be the Cyberpower Gamer Zues M3, Dell XPS 14 and Fujitsu LifeBook U772. All three of these are ultrabooks with the same processor but have some variation in features. The Cyberpower offers lots of RAM and a larger solid state drive with more peripheral ports but has display issues. The Dell is much heavier and larger, uses a hybrid drive setup for more storage space and has better running times all with the same equivalent resolution display. The Fujitsu offers a similar level of slimness and is actually a bit lighter but has a higher price tag and a display that is clearly not as nice.