By Loyd Case
August 9, 2012
If Walter Gropius could see the new Vizio C14-A2 Ultrabook, he’d probably approve. It sports a sleek, metallic elegance, like many of the quintessential Bauhaus designs. And as the Bauhaus school would do, Vizio stripped out seemingly essential features, but the end result is a compact, lightweight, usable laptop that performs well and looks good. It also sells for a very reasonable $1199.
Lean and Stripped Down
At first blush, the C14-A2 seems mostly distinguished by its lack of features. Just two USB 3.0 ports are included, one on each side. A lone HDMI port is on the right side, providing the only video output port. The system lacks a wired ethernet jack, and doesn’t include a USB-to-ethernet adapter, as similarly thin Asus Zenbook UX31E. Perhaps the one absent feature that people might really miss, though, is a flash card reader.
Stripping out those features allowed Vizio to create a very thin, curvaceous laptop that looks equally good closed or open. The system looks thinner than it really is, thanks to its beveled, dark rubberized base, but it’s still very thin, at 0.63 inches. Vizio even left out keyboard backlighting in pursuit of slenderness—the hardware needed to integrate backlighting Vizio C14-A2would have added 1.5mm.
As with the Macbook Air, the C14 and its larger sibling, the C15, is built using aluminum unibody construction. However, a black bezel surrounds the display, which tends to bring your eye to the LCD panel rather than to the surrounding bezel.
The keyboard is equally striking in appearance. The keys are big, every so slightly sculpted and beveled. The large touchpad is one in a new, unified style with no visible buttons, and supports multitouch gestures.
Looking good is one thing, but does the C14-A2 deliver on performance? This particular C14 is the A2 model, which ships with a Core i7-3517U processor. The dual-core 3517U includes 4MB of L3 cache, supports hyperthreading (so it can handle four simultaneous threads), and ships with a base clock of 1.9GHz and a maximum turbo speed of 3GHz. As with many similar Ultrabooks, it has 4GB of DDR3 memory, some of which must be used as the frame buffer for the integrated Intel HD 4000 GPU.
Performance is close to a dead heat with the highly rated, but pricier, Acer Aspire S5. The Vizio has an overall performance score of 81 on PCWorld’s demanding suite of tests, versus an 82 for the S5.
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