on October 24, 2012
First off, let's just get this out there: paper spec-wise, few other laptops can compare to this laptop in my opinion. Laptops with 15" 1080p IPS screens are very few and far between, and then weighing just 4 pounds and being very thin is icing on the cake. The rest of the system is pretty average for this price range nowadays, but if you haven't experienced a screen like this you might just not realize how big of an asset it truly is.
Now, the caveats: the first sample I got had a rattly fan. It was very noticeable, and made me worry that it might break after a short amount of time. Wanting my laptop to last more than a few weeks, I returned it and got another which was quick and painless, but it definitely did not inspire confidence in Vizio's build quality. My second CT15-A1 is fine, but I'm strongly considering the 3 year aftermarket warranty that Amazon offers just in case it has problems down the line. Not only is this laptop priced very aggressively, but Vizio is brand new to the laptop space, so it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect some growing pains with early models. Subjectively, the laptop feels like it's actually built very well. The aluminum body is stiff, and there's very little screen flex. The screen hinge is stiff without being too stiff. There are no obvious build quality defects like bumps under the keyboard or that kind of thing (which I had with my previous Dell XPS M1330).
With that out of the way, I do have to say that I truly love this laptop. It's crazy lightweight for the specs. The matte 1080p IPS screen is beautiful, and when calibrated with my X-Rite i1 Display 2 (using the Lacie Blue Eye software), the average dE is less than 0.2. Read: this display is capable of near perfect reference color reproduction. I can do Adobe Lightroom work on this laptop without color reproduction concerns any more, in fact I moved away from a separate monitor to save space on my desk and for a little extra cash.
The keyboard is very nice tactile-wise. Before I got this laptop, I was using a mechanical keyboard with Cherry Blue switches. So I definitely appreciate the benefits of a nice keyboard. And while the keys aren't the same as a mechanical keyboards', they're still nice. The travel is pretty limited but there's good feedback. It's not too loud but also isn't silent. Everything's laid out pretty nice, although I'm not a fan of the arrow key setup and I hate the complete lack of home/end/pgup/pgdown navigation keys. I think the default option of the F1-12 keys acting as special function keys without needing to hold fn is an excellent decision. I only ever used F5 for refreshing a page, which can be accomplished by ctrl-r, but on the other hand I need volume, playback, and brightness control very often. One thing I have noticed that could be a problem: sometimes it seems like key presses aren't noticed, and other times it seems like I unintentionally double press a key. I'm a very fast typer (about 90 words per minute on a 1 minute test), so it could be that I'm just being really inaccurate with a new keyboard, but if you're concerned about this I would check for a trend in other reviews.
The touchpad is okay at best, and if it's having a bad day it's absolutely terrible. This is my first multi-touch touchpad, so my experience here should be noted as very limited overall. I like the gestures, and scrolling usually works pretty well. I really like that the entire touchpad clicks in for a left click - no more need to keep my left hand on the click button. I dislike that the default option for touch to click is "on". This was an amazingly stupid decision that wreaks of limited to no end-user testing. It makes typing almost impossible because there's no palm detection and merely brushing the pad moves your cursor. But thankfully this can be turned off, and as I mentioned previously the push-in-entire-pad-to-click design makes it unnecessary anyway. As another reviewer mentioned, sometimes the touchpad decides to just take a break and turn off. Other times, it decides to get all coked out and just randomly go around the screen, in no clear relation to what I'm actually trying to do. I'm not exaggerating. It's just completely broken in that respect. I have the most recent drivers and occasionally this happens with just no warning at all. It's infrequent enough that it's not critical, but it's pretty pathetic. Finally, it should be noted that there's no off button for the pad. I feel this is OK with touch to click being set off, since then the pad shouldn't randomly click unless you have a habit of bending your wrist to go between your hands and pressing down pretty stiffly, but it's still something some users might be concerned about.
So, basically, plan on using a trackball or a mouse with this laptop.
The ports are a little limited. Just two USB ports and only HDMI kind of sucks. Lots of projectors are still behind the curve and only have VGA, but the D-Sub connector is huge so I can't blame VIZIO for leaving it out.
The headphone audio is really nice. I would consider myself a practical audiophile - I don't believe in $500 power cable snake oil, but I appreciate a good DAC and good pair of cans. In that regard, the audio from this VIZIO is pretty respectable. There's none of the hissing that you get with truly awful DAC/amp combos, but it's also nothing to write home about and the gain is pretty low. Shouldn't be a problem unless you're planning on driving expensive high impedance cans, in which case you're probably the type of person to have an external DAC/amp combo anyway.
Also, cool feature sidenote: like smartphones, the laptop detects when headphones are plugged in, and it remembers the difference between last speaker volume and last headphone volume. So otherwise, you can have the speaker volume set to muted but the headphone volume set to average so you won't disturb anyone but still not have to mess with the volume constantly.
Finally, the OS experience is very nice. Turning on from standby is instantaneous. Turning on from hibernate isn't blazing fast but still only about 20 or 30 seconds. Turning on from being completely off or restarting takes about probably only 15 or 20 seconds. Not having bloatware is a godsend. This is the first prebuilt I've ever bought where I didn't do a Windows fresh install first thing. I just uninstalled the Bing and Zune crap and I was good to go 30 seconds later. Also, as a sidenote, there aren't ridiculous brand stickers plastered all over the place. The CT15 has a great design that's very nice to look at, and they obviously cared more about the user experience than absurd brand identity/advertising when they were designing it.
Final geek note: I haven't tried yet, but I see any kind of hardware changes being difficult or impossible. The entire underside of the laptop is a single piece, so there's no easy-to-access hard drive, RAM, etc. doors. This is frustrating, especially since I'd like to drop in a 512GB SSD in a few months since the prices keep dropping and 128GB is a little small, but I would research into this more if you're considering the laptop and need this capability.
Anyway, to summarize, this is an amazing laptop for the price. The screen is superb, and doesn't even require a "for the price" qualifier. Everything else is pretty average, with nothing being terrible except the touchpad depending on how much you plan on using it and if you're OK with messing with the settings (very easy to do). The internals are nice, but you might not be able to change them (research this if it matters to you). It's indeed very thin and light, and again at a great price. I recommend it, but consider the quality control risks before buying., and if you're willing to also carry around a mouse or a trackball.
Really I would have given this laptop a -1 star for the touchpad, and -0.5 stars for the one I had to replace. But since you can't do out of 10 ratings, I think a 4 is more appropriate because the rest of the laptop is good and the screen is greaet.
on October 8, 2012
I do purchase lots of laptops each year, as I have a nag for trying new tech.
But I like to think that I am in constant search for the perfect gadget and never finding it (be it a laptop, a tablet, a phone, a remote control...)
And let me tell you, I have never been torn by a product as much as I did with Vizio CT15-A1
The laptop is gorgeous, the screen is amazing, and the build quality is superb. But there are some serious short comings.
I had the laptop for nearly a month now, and I stil feel this love and hate realtionship. I can't make up mind wether to keep it or ditch it for another laptop. (either way, in few months, a new laptop must fill its shoes, especially with Win8 on the way)
What I love about the laptop:
* Looks space-age. And I don't mean like a Macbook Air does (althoug the similarities are stunning), it is the angular design of the screen lid, and above all, the grayish hue on the body.
* Excellent construction, with very useful rubber bottom.
* Amazing IPS full-HD matte display
* Cool charger ligths (abit too bright)
What I hate about the laptop:
* The touchpad
* The touchpad
* The touchpad (yes, that much!) of all the laptops I ever used, no touchpad ever came close to the horride experience of this laptop; gestures are erratic, touch sensitivity is horrible, and above all, the touchpad always ignore any minute gesture: to stick the pointer over something small, you must first swipe hard to get the cursor moving and then quickly set the cursor where you want... an exercise in patience.
* Short battery life: while doing nothing but surfing the web, I get about 4 hours.
* Keyboard is not likeable, but in reality is not as bad as other users have described. and of course, it is not backlit. It would not register some keys if very lightly pressed.
* Should not really be called an ultrabook, because it does not standby as other laptops do: if you simply close the lid, the laptop goes on standby, not the deep sleep mode. So in few hours, battery would have dropped by about 20%, and then it goes into hibernate. So, first you are faced with unexpeted reduction in battery, second, you have to wait for the laptop to resume from hibernation, which BTW takes longer than a full boot.
* There is a 2GB hibernation partition, which is weird given the laptop has 4GB of memory, so I think it is useless and unused (which might be the cause for the behavior above)
* Recovery partition is there, but there is no way to extract it on Media, and, you must boot windows in recovery mode to be able to access it. pretty useless if your main parition is corrupt (which is at times why you would like to do recovery in the first place). It is a weird decision to do this, and maybe it is justified by the fact that the hard drive is not meant to be user replacebale. Or maybe such decision reflects Vizio's inexperience in the PC business world.
* Charger is standard size (which is to say big), which is a shame given how beatifully designed the laptop is, and since battery life sucks, leaving the charger behind is not something you would want to do.
You can see how many shortcomings there are, and yet I cannot hate the laptop... that should be an indication how beautiful the laptop is :) Beauty is skin deep? yeah, but it got me!
on March 24, 2013
This was purchased from Amazon, but by my boss, not by me. He was so disgusted with it that rather than return it, he just gave it to me.
Weight, looks and performance-wise, this is a good notebook! Slim, easy to carry and a beautiful screen.
However it needs a few accessories to make it what is in my opinion, usable.
1. A wireless mouse or touch pad as the provided touch pad is extremely unusable. Granted, I'm used to the one on Apple notebooks, but my wife's cheap HP notebook touch pad is much easier to use. I suggest going with a Bluetooth mouse or touch pad as there are only two USB ports on this computer.
2. A wireless keyboard as the provided one looks great but the keys don't always work. I have to pay special attention when typing an 'f' or a 'c' for instance as it usually won't appear. Or you'll easily get double keystrokes. Combined with the native touch pad which I haven't been able to disable, when typing up a report, letter or even a Facebook post, I'll find that the cursor has suddenly jumped up a number of lines and I'm typing in the middle of something previously written. Again, I suggest a Bluetooth keyboard as there are only two USB ports. Though if you have a Logitech unifying receiver, you can use one port for both the keyboard and mouse/pad.
3. An external hard drive. The 128GB SSD is fast. However, 100GB for applications and data really isn't very much. I've install the software that I need to use for work, (Adobe Creative Suite, Office 2013, etc.), my documents and very little else. I ended up with about 41GB free. I can't install Dropbox as our shared folder would fill the drive. So, tie up a USB port with an external USB hard drive. I picked up a 2TB Western Digital that uses USB3 at a decent price.
4. A USB network adapter. The radio on this thing is WEAK. Our WiFi router is currently two walls and about 40 feet away. Every few minutes, I lose Internet access and have to reset the radio by pressing the F3 key to turn it off and then again to turn it back on. (That same key also disables Bluetooth for some strange reason.) My wife's HP sitting two feet closer has NO problems. If I move to within six feet of the router, I can keep a connection a lot longer but it still drops out from time to time. The latter also applies with my Verizon 4G LTE hotspot sitting 3 feet from the Vizio. Using a USB WiFi adaptor, I don't get any network dropout.
So, if you're willing to spend more money, use the Bluetooth and both USB ports, this is a pretty snappy and beautiful notebook and very usable.
On the other hand, I think that if it was MY money being spent, I'd have gone with the Acer at Costco. 8GB of ram vs 4GB, almost as thin but has a DVD burner and 3 USB3 ports and a touch screen perfect for Windows 8. It only uses a 750GB spinner hard drive so wouldn't be as snappy. The keyboard is backlit, has a numeric keyboard and types a LOT better. Even the touch pad is very usable. I only use the Acer as an example of how for a $100 more, one can get a much better thin notebook.
Hopefully, Vizio has learned from their mistakes with their first notebook and has fixed them in the newer models.
Pros: Thin, light, lovely and snappy performance
Cons: Bad keyboard, bad touch pad, weak WiFi radio, limited storage, limited memory and poor expandability. (Remember, like the newest Apple notebooks, what you buy is what you get. Nothing in this is upgradable or expandable. No swapping the battery, putting in a bigger hard drive or more memory.)
on May 3, 2013
I bought this for my mom, knowing what she would use it for, mainly Microsoft Office, internet browsing, and streaming videos. So I wanted something light, with mid-range specs and an HD display. I figured the Intel i5 processor would be enough for this, and the graphics driver didn't really matter a whole lot, since she doesn't run graphics-intensive programs. An SSD was a must, ever since I heard that computers are being built with them now. SSDs are faster, quieter, use no electricity, and produce less heat. Since she does quite a lot of typing, I wanted to get her a 15" laptop because of a bigger keyboard, a significant increase in size from her old 10.1" netbook. And I also wanted Windows 7. Windows 8 is a hot mess, in my opinion, plus I wouldn't want to to have my mom learn a new operating system.
I did am internet search for computers with SSDs, windows 7, and an i5, and couldn't find any below $900. Right before I made a purchase of nearly $1000, I stumbled upon this. It had all the specs I was looking for, with the added bonus of a 1920x1080 matte display. I quit what I was doing and for a few days, read up on the reviews for these. Most agree, it is well built, with flaws, even "fatal flaws." These flaws were the trackpad, keyboard, and lack of ports. Since my mom uses a mouse, I saw the trackpad as a non-issue. The flaws in the keyboard were explained to me, but I really saw it as a matter of opinion. And since the ports would not be used, besides one USB, this also was a non-issue.
But I have used the machine, so here's my opinion of these aspects of this computer:
1. Trackpad: After the initial boot up, the first thing I did was download the drivers for the trackpad. Yes, it is pretty buggy, and it would get annoying after a while. But I think the problem comes more from the design than the drivers. Your fingers have to be a little greasy to use. I used this with my clean hands, and my fingers would not slide on it. And the left and right click is built right in as a single piece, which means that you can't keep one finger on the click button and another on the touchpad, or it gets confused and the cursor jumps around. But the 2 finger scroll worked pretty well for me. Also, the cursor got stuck a time or two, which is the only software problem with the trackpad, but a simple right click fixes it right up.
2. Keyboard: Like I said, I think this is a matter of opinion. The lack of a numpad might scare some people away, but it allows for bigger keys. They are large and have a somewhat slippery surface, and little travel. However, the travel is still substantial enough. When I type, I glide my hands across the keyboard from one to another, instead of pulling my fingers off all the way. And this keyboard works well for that. It is actually the best keyboard I have ever typed on, to be honest. And since my mom has the same typing habits, she loves it too.
3. Lack of Ports: You get 2 USBs, a headphone jack, and an HDMI. I don't know what to say about this really. If you need more ports, get a different computer. If that's all you need, you won't have any problems.
So who should use this? Anybody looking for a mid-range, light laptop, like students, or people looking to stream movies. Don't buy this for gaming, or graphic-intensive programs. If you have a lot of data, don't get this one either. It is advertised as 128GB of storage. It is never exact. This one is just a bit less, and the OS takes up quite a bit of space, so it comes down to around 75GB of free space out of the box. There is no bloatware to be removed, unless you count Skype and Zune (I removed Zune). And one last thing, the unibody is very nice looking, but if hardware problems occur, this would be very difficult to repair, and very costly and time consuming to have someone else do it (the battery is built in by the way, and upgrading RAM will require a lot of work.) This could cause problems down the line, but for now WEEEEEEEE!
on July 7, 2013
I was in the market for a computer that still came pre-loaded with Windows 7, as I have no use for a touch screen in my profession. This machine had all of the specs of the new computers that are on the market like the Asus Vivo Book, or the HP Envy, but it had exactly what I was looking for in the operating system.
The machine is the most beautiful computer I have ever seen. But good looks aren't enough to justify keeping a computer. It is actually nicer looking than the Apple Macbook Air, which it was clearly attempting to emulate, but comes with a 15 inch screen which is noticeably larger and easier to read documents on. However, just like the Macbook Air, I cannot figure out how to use it. Unlike the Macbook Air, it isn't just a new keyboard you must learn how to use, it is a machine that doesn't work, which is far more frustrating.
The negatives render the machine worthless.
1. The Track pad ! -- When I turned the machine on, the cursor was magically moving itself across the screen, and I wasn't touching the computer. I installed the new driver, and it fixed the ghost movements, but now every 15 minutes of use, the machine will literally freeze and you must SHUT DOWN. Just restarting does not fix the problem.
2. The Keyboard - I actually like the keyboard, as it is silent when one is typing late at night and does not want to disturb their mate's slumber. However the way they designed the keys, they are 2 times larger than most laptop keys, likely to accommodate the massive keyboard area as they omitted the number pad. Coupled with the track-pad which is exactly where your palms are supposed to be, it leads to one hell of a difficult proposition.
3. The battery life. - The other laptops in this price range with the same features all have 6-9 hours of battery life. This machine averages 3 hours for my use, and I wasn't watching movies or playing games on it, I was typing. I don't know much about computers, but from what I understand, Typing is not as difficult on Battery life as streaming media and online gaming.
1. The machine is a work of art. - As stated, this would be great if I were to hang it on the wall, but for practical purposes it fails miserably.
2. The Screen is the best I've ever seen. The Imaages are crisp, and black is true black. It really is a shame they can't sell their screens to everyone else, as it is incredible.
3. Silent - Not only are the keys silent, but the machine doesn't seem to have a fan, or I've never heard one running. It really is noticeably devoid of sound.
4. Lightning fast - I'm not sure if it is the SSD hard drive, but it is the fastest computer I have ever used. Opening a file, or a document takes less than 1/10th of a second. I don't render on photoshop, in fact, I don't own Photoshop, but it does everything I have asked it to do with remarkable speed.
Bottom line, the machine would be perfect for someone who wants a fashion accessory on their lap or desk. If you desperately want to buy one I implore you to buy an external mouse and keyboard, as using the ones provided on this machine will likely induce you to commit violence.
I must compliment their customer service at Vizio, they connected me with an American on a Saturday to discuss warranty repair work. This is something I really am impressed with, and it makes a huge difference. If they can improve their product design issues I would purchase from their product line in the future based primarily on that little detail. Fortunately, I detected the defect in design during my return period with Amazon, so I have decided to deal with them instead and buy a comparable HP machine which also has windows 7 but lacks the defect in design.
on December 26, 2012
Have had this unit for about three months
THE TRACK PAD IS TOTALLY UN USEABLE. It jumps around all over the place and many times just freezes. Have spoken to tech support and downloaded the (many) updates for it but it is still terrible. I have now bought a regular mouse with a sigh of relief. Who knew track pads could be so bad. Have used them for many Years on many laptops and never had a problem in the past
THE KEYBOARD IS FRUSTRATING to say the least. One cannot type at a normal speed. There is not enough travel on the keys and they feel plasticky. Often characters are missing, sometimes it types the same letter twice. I have to spell check everything
BATTERY LIFE approx. 4 hours normal use - not special
I Upgraded to WINDOWS 8. At this point the wifi connection started dropping. Called Tech support on MANY occasions. Installed the software update, didn't help. Internet drops after every few minutes The only fix from Tech Support (though they were very polite and fast to answer the calls) was to delete everything (again ) And return to Windows 7. Crazy.
Today December 26th 2012 they have a new driver for the wifi and it now seems to be fixed as the connection has held for 3 hours now. I have not been able to use the laptop for about 6 weeks because of lack of WIFI. Also there is no Ethernet port and a dongle is not supplied so I couldn't connect to by wire either
So I am using a wireless mouse and a Bluetooth keyboard as this is the only way to input correctly.
Some super portable this has turned out to be. I have to lug extra items everywhere I go with it! Nice screen and quite fast - but the rest.........not good.
I think it was rushed to market. I really wish it worked as well as it looks. And I paid retail...oh well. Stick to the brands with a history of making laptops would be my advice
Nice TV's Visio. Shame about the Thin and Light notebook....
Wish I had paid a little extra and bought the ASUS.
on April 16, 2013
When getting a laptop in the $600 price range, there will be some sacrifices. This laptop gives up some common features but delivers with an impressive display and build quality.
It has a stunning 1080p display.
It is thin and light (just as the name implies).
The aluminum unibody construction is eye-catching and sleek; I will never be able to go back to a plastic laptop.
The SSD hard drive is small but incredibly fast.
It comes loaded with Windows 7 Premium Signature instead of Windows 8 (that is hard to find as of April 2013)
It has no optical drive, ethernet port, or sd card reader.
The touchpad is not great. Updating the firmware helped some but it still leaves a lot to be desired.
This laptop is perfect for light home use. I use it to stream videos, organize photos, browse the internet, etc. and it works great. If you need a laptop for extended periods of typing or heavy use, you will need to plug in a keyboard and mouse.
on November 7, 2012
This laptop is an amzing machine - it would be the best windows laptop on the market, if Vizio hadn't shot themselves in the foot by releasing it with a shoddy trackpad, and in the case of my unit - a shoddy keyboard. The keyboard often created two letters for one keystroke - a problem I have heard some other users complaining about. I always use a mouse so I could live with the useless trackpad (the driver update changed nothing, you can't polish a turd) however after three weeks of correcting every sentence typed, I had to send it back. Amazon was absolutely fantastic in dealing with the return. I have yet to decide whether I will order the same laptop again, in the hope of getting one without keyboard faults.
on September 25, 2012
It's a great ultrabook at an approachable price - if you use an external mouse. The included Sentelic "Finger Sensing Pad" and their drivers is the biggest piece of [...]. If you don't mind your touchpad behaving like it's drunk 75% of the time and sometimes just freezing for a minute or so, this computer is easily 5 stars. I would pay Vizio extra just to switch out this touchpad for a different manufacturer (that's what Asus did with their Zenbooks - they switched to Elan).
Update: I got used to the touchpad... slightly. I still think it's bad, but I edited down my review a bit.
on October 7, 2013
I've had this product for an aggravating half year, aggravating because of the double key register problem that everyone seems to be experiencing. The keyboard constantly registered two letters instead of one occasionally and it was very annoying.
But finally, it seems I've found a way to get rid of, or at least mitigate dramatically, this problem:
1. Download and install AutoHotKey.
2. Make a new script and copy and paste this:
3. Save the script and run it.
This seems to mitigate the problem a lot. Even though the double key register happens sometimes, even in explosions now (four v's were typed once), it happens much less often.