Budget TV Maker Vizio Will Try Hand at Making Low Cost PCs

If you walk into any Walmart and head over to the HDTV section, one of the brands that will jump out at you is Vizio, which has built a reputation for building and selling comparatively affordable TV sets. In a way, Vizio is to TVs what Rosewill is to PC parts -- value oriented. Perhaps bored with focusing almost entirely on HDTVs (Vizio also dabbles in related equipment, like home theater speakers and Blu-ray players, as well as tablet PCs), Vizio is reportedly taking its low-cost mojo over to the PC industry.

In an interview with USA Today, Vizio's chief technology officer, Matt McRae, goes into a bit of detail about new PCs Vizio plans to unveil at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week. Rather than tip-toe into the realm of PCs, Vizio will display no less than five computers, including 24-inch and 27-inch all-in-one (AIO) PCs "with roughly the same feature sets," a pair of 15.6-inch laptops, and a 14-inch notebook.

Asked whether anyone has called Vizio "crazy" for wanting to get into PCs, McRae said "Vizio's been called crazy since we launched the company almost ten years ago." Back then, Vizio jumped into a mature TV market with already established players, but he says the market had grown stagnant in terms of innovation. He sees a similar situation in the PC industry and thinks history can repeat itself.

"There are several large players [in the PC market], not a lot of innovation. Most people have moved their innovation engines into other products, like tablets," McRae explains. "We looked at the product line and say, 'This is going to be as important to a consumer in the future as it is today,' and the way people are using that product is actually expanding, it's not contracting. People come home and they'll use their PC for email, but they're also using it for entertainment experiences like content, music, video, and other things. So as it expands, we believe the PC actually becomes a more important component of that entertainment ecosystem across all of the different products."

From Vizio's vantage point, PCs are as much about entertainment as they are about productivity, and it doesn't want to ignore the former. How it plans to do that remains to be seen, and we'll also have to wait to see how pricing and specs shake out, but according to McRae, you can expect the same "value equation" that's found on Vizio's HDTV line.