Vizio Expounds on ‘No Frills’ Approach to Current HD Dominance

Vizio who? A brand name so obscure even a year ago that few industry observers or consumers could have told you what it manufactures, Vizio has skyrocketed into the upper echelons of HD set-makers in the past year so dramatically that mainstream media are starting to pay attention in a big way.

Vizio is quickly making a name for itself by selling no-frills HD sets in low-cost big-box outlets like Costco and Sam’s Club at prices noticeably less than the established brands. Last August, Vizio suddenly found its name in a lot of business headlines when it finished first in sales of LCD units in the United States for the Q2 of this year—shipping more than 600,000 LCD HD units (See HD Notebook, Aug. 22, 2007.)

The Irvine, Calif.-based firm, which currently only sells in the United States, has surged past Sony, Samsung, Philips, Pioneer, Sharp and other major brands by only building capabilities into their units that most consumers really desired, and nothing more. For example, Vizio said memory cards are no longer necessary because most HD sets now come with an option to connect to digital cameras, according to a major business article in The Washington Post.

Chrome enhancements on HD sets also are not needed, says Vizio, because the cosmetic additions do nothing to enhance picture quality, which is the key reason customers buy HD sets. And since a growing number of flat-screen units are wall-mounted—or are large enough to simply stayed in fixed positions—Vizio says it saves up to $40 per unit by not including swivel bases. Along the same lines, it says, built-in ambient light projected behind the unit does nothing to improve on-screen image quality.

Vizio says it goes out of its way to not “over-design,” but nevertheless tries to react quickly to customer concerns. When one consumer called to argue that the Vizio remote panel was difficult to see in a dark room, Vizio said it immediately began to design a back-light to be included in all its new remotes.