January 4, 2007 11:51 AM PST

A volley from Vizio in the high-end TV wars

Upstart digital TV maker Vizio is doing its part to nudge down the prices of high-end LCD sets.

The small but rapidly growing company on Thursday formally announced its Gallevia GV47L, which features a 1080p resolution and now lists for $1,899.99, a round $100 under the anticipated price. CEO William Wang first announced his company's plans to introduce the LCD TV in an interview with CNET News.com last month.

Most TVs with that level of resolution sell for $2,400 or more. Rival Westinghouse recently cut the price of a 47-inch 1080p LCD monitor to $1,999, but the monitor does not contain a TV tuner card, an additional piece of hardware that adds costs. Westinghouse is expected to announce its first 1080p TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show next week. Samsung, Sony, Philips and others will also be trotting out new TVs and new features at the show.

The 1080p number means that the TV has a native resolution of 1920x1080 and, right now, it represents the top of the market. HDTVs come in display resolutions of 720p (720 lines of detail) or 1080i (1,080 lines of detail). A standard TV has 480. The "p" refers to progressive scan, in which each of the picture frames is drawn line by line from top to bottom on the screen, causing on-screen action to appear smoother. The "i" stands for interlaced, meaning that every second line of a picture is drawn in sequence.

The 47-inch Gallevia TV also sports an 800-to-1 contrast ratio and 16.7 million colors.

Although not a household name, Vizio has gone from being a consulting firm to one of the larger TV brands in North America. The company ranked 10th in sales for the third quarter in the combined LCD and plasma TV market, according to statistics from DisplaySearch.

Vizio, Polaroid, Syntax-Brillian (which makes Olevia TVs) and Westinghouse can be seen as sort of the little TV makers that could. The companies were relatively minor players a few years ago. Established manufacturers like Sony and Samsung, along with analysts, thought competition in the TV world would be heated up by PC companies like Dell--which currently ranks 20th, according to DisplaySearch.

Low pricing and novel retailing strategies, combined with extensive reliance on contract manufacturers, have allowed the small companies to secure a niche.

Vizio, for instance, sells its TVs mostly in club stores like Costco, which have emerged as a major outlet for digital TVs. The company also tries to keep operating costs low.

See more CNET content tagged:
Vizio, Westinghouse, DisplaySearch, 1080p, Consumer Electronics Show

7 comments

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VIZIO worked beautifully till two weeks after the warranty expired.
Visio and all the upstart makers are discovering what SONY and other old-line manufactures already know, consumers don't watch TV in a clean room.

In this particular case, the High Voltage DC supply traces on the circuit board attracted carbon particles from the air until there was enough carbon to form a leakage path, which shut down the system.

Repairs are expensive and virtually impossible (visio will not release circuit diagrams, nor sell repair parts except at "systems level" meaning $450 for a new HV supply board with the same basic design flaw.

Pay a few dollars more and get a name brand, or pay a few dollars less, and get a locally assembled plasma display.

ALWAYS TAKE THE EXTENDED WARRENTY ON PLASMA
Posted by disco-legend-zeke (448 comments )
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Or just buy it from Costco
No extended warranty ever needed there. If it ever breaks just put
it back in its original box and bring it along with the sales receipt.

Full refund or exchange.
Posted by ibglowin (5 comments )
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The native resolution is not 1920x1080!
From the Vizio Web site:

Maximum Panel Resolution: 1920 x 1080

Supported Native Resolutions
1366 x 768, 1280 x 720, 1024 x 768, 854 x 480, 800 x 600

So, it looks like it will take a 1080p signal, and it offers a 1920x1080 resolution, but there will be some scaling to a native resolution if you do that.
Posted by eelstretching (1 comment )
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Congratulations! So you've finally gotten a bigger apartment and can finally afford a nice TV set for your football games and romantic stay-at-home movie dates. Before you write a cheque or swipe your shiny credit card for a nice big TV, you should first check the following list and make sure that you do understand the difference between getting a plasma or LCD TV.
Posted by johnbovi12 (3 comments )
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