Friday, July 6, 2012

Vizio: an entry in the PC design

Earlier this year at CES in Las Vegas, the American Vizio, maker of televisions and Blu-ray players, unveiled its first line of future PC. Piece of portable and whose lines were familiar. A few iMac, MacBook Air a little, a touch of Magic Trackpad all coated aluminum. The Verge dedicated a portrait of this California-born 10 years ago, now just over 400 employees and who managed against all odds to climb to first place in sales of HDTVs in the U.S...

It combines a strategy of low prices, service quality and low cost communication. As another local company, she also learned to follow his subcontractor closely but serving the more moderate rates possible.

Despite his record, Vizio's decision to diversify into the PC was greeted with some skepticism. She had done some gaps by launching a forum for the bar area and an Android tablet, for which successors are also planned in the coming months.

The goal was for these PCs offer affordable prices (900 to 1300 U.S. dollars equivalent for iMac 24 “and 27”) for machines with a Windows come without the clutter of third-party software and a design that sets them apart from the competition.

Matt McRae, technical director, says he sees a brighter future than others for the PC, even if the tablets have pushed this market: "The tablet has released the PC industry from its slumber. It did not happen much. But the next three to five years will be very interesting. You'll see new formats, you will gradually see the integration of touch. Many boundaries were clearly drawn between the products - the tablet PC, television - are fading away. "The middle of the PC is ready to be shaken, says the manager who found common ground with the television eight years ago, when Vizio has measured the equivalent Dell or HP in this environment.” There is not much innovation in the PC, at least $ 599 there are tons of black plastic. They all look alike. It is clear that someone has designed a first motherboard and that everyone has surrounded the plastic and rushed to deliver. These are the same players that launch the same products every six months. "Vizio intends to come between these machines and those $ 600 to $ 1200 or more. A gray area in which an executive of AMD there is little thought it was difficult to make volume: from $ 900 at Apple customers leave.

Matt McRae, there is no question of competing with Apple, but to talk to customers who want Windows PC hardware premium quality Apple "deserves much respect for bringing in the design criteria consumer purchasing. But our goal is to bring this level of detail and care at a lower price and that resonates with consumers. "That means making a $ 2000 PC for half that price, without skimp on the product and to reach this threshold with the help of subcontractors and rigorous management.

Only 10 people internally have worked on this project (and 1000 if you count the sub-contractors), led by a former director of product development at BMW, Scott McManigal. He explained that he conducted a thorough analysis of existing products on the market "I can not say that the inspiration for this design came from the sky. This was a real in-depth analysis of what went on the market and the opportunities opened to us. "

With designs focusing on organic shapes to simulate the finesse, Vizio chose sliced lines, footprints more character and expressing "the authenticity of the metal", aluminum, in order to propose a design that stands out, but that does not messy.

Journalist at The Verge, he also confides his dislike for stickers processor manufacturers and publishers everywhere affixed, or the LEDs flashing everywhere and who welcome the customer at unpacking. To support his preference, he said he debated for hours and having used some messages in forums and other manuals that explain how people remove the stickers without damaging their PC. In the end, only one mention of Windows was screen printed, but under the machine.

Microsoft engineers were asked to optimize Windows to the equipment and get the Vizio label "Signature". It refers to PC where Windows is installed alone, without additional software. An initiative that has received little feedback from manufacturers, to the chagrin of Microsoft, whose system, and not those crapwares, is accused in the case of poor performance.

30% of customers who buy a PC reset the said McRae, and vendors offer customers to do it for them for $ 50 while those distributors are partly responsible for this pile of adware and demo.

Just as the refusal of these utilities means a waste of money, the sidelining of the communication elements of Intel may have cost the Vizio the right to use the mark Ultrabook. But no matter, said Matt McRae, "It's like our shelf, we simply called the shelf Vizio. Do not waste your money on marketing; just tell people what your product. "

If there is one, even today, where PCs can be disappointing, it's the comfort of their keyboard and trackpad. The first attempts keyboard Vizio proved a failure on the prototypes of the CES, "It's one thing to have a sample manufactured or printed on a sheet of paper after a rapid prototyping, but it is another to get the feel of tactile feedback, it is only when you start using it. "
Vizio changed the design, espaça keys by adding chamfers so that keys are visually separated from each other while the original idea was to bring them closer to the maximum. This involved reviewing the manufacturing process at the factory was already late loan. The other challenge was to achieve an external trackpad quality because these PCs are shipped without a mouse. Choices assumed in anticipation of Windows 8. The rarity of this PC cousin of Magic Trackpad meant not to be missed. Six months were spent adjusting these trackpad drivers whose sensor is supplied by a provider of first order, but the name Vizio silent. The format was revised, initially thought it was a good size bigger then reduced again.

Another lesson is that Vizio intends to apply to limit its range to a few models. The manufacturer does not intend to launch a dozen models on a quarterly basis and review each time his designs: "We spent two years in the design and do it properly. We will offer more powerful configurations and the addition of things, but you will not see a new industrial design every three months. If you get something good, you can capitalize on it for a while. "Apple would not say anything with its laptop ...

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