[Update 2012-06-26] Vizio just announced “CoStar”. It’s a GoogleTV appliance that costs $99USD and has all of the basic features like video and radio from the various media suppliers. The price for the device is inline with AppleTV now it’s a matter of comparing the cost of the media.
It’s been a news story recently. Vizio, an American company and maker of reasonably priced TVs, is branching into making computers. Their laptops and all-in-one desktops are aesthetically designed with plenty of “out of the box supported” modern features(no custom device drivers) and none of the sponsor-ware. Which leads me to a number of concerns:
(1) Is the $899 starting price tag really the best price? If you look at the TV market and compare; Vizio was never at the utter bottom but their prices and quality make them onto any gift-list I imagine. However, the price is closer to Sony and Lenovo instead of Gateway and eMachines. I would like to get a hands on to see it in action. I would also like to know if *nix or *BSD are viable.
(2) While the OS is supposed to be an out of the OEM box install of Windows I find myself being skeptical. WIthout actually having a machine to evaluate I could not tell, however, one of the common themes over the last few years has been the general move to social data capture. If the general consumer had any idea how much information was included in the “phone home” feature of many of their installed and commercial applications they would be concerned. On the one hand this might have offset the cost of the software but what is the real cost? That’s another story.
(3) Just how functional is an OEM install of Windows? My recollection is not much. Once you get past the deeply embedded Internet Explorer and some of the basic Control Panel, MineSweeper, Calc, Remote Desktop, NotePad and a dozen other tools and utilities you’re done. I would hope that, by now, Microsoft is offering some Express versions of it’s software “by default” as part of the OEM install in order to compete with OSX. On the one-hand I’d rather install them separately so that I could decide whether or not to install MS Office but on the other hand when considering a computer like this for Grandma/pa I’d rather complete their install with as little friction as possible.