VIZIO Reaches Out to the CI Channel

The home AV market is filled with success vizio_logo-0210stories of companies who started small and affected revolutionary change in a short amount of time. VIZIO sits at the top of my list for modern-day AV brands that still think (and act!) like innovators after hitting it big. In five short years, they went from a small, no-name company to occupying the title of the #1 selling brand of flat panel HDTVs in North America.

Laynie Allen Newsome, co-founder and VP of sales and marketing for VIZIO, speaks with enthusiasm when it comes to her company’s offerings, and to their vision of how products work within the home. “The [flat panel display] concept isn’t exclusive to one room in your home,” she tells me. “We spend a lot of time looking at the use model – where and how the product is used. I’ll think of how my mother would use it, for example. The goal is to be as feature-rich as possible and as affordable as possible.”
Their philosophy is demonstrated in their mobile TV line, with displays ranging from 7” to 10”. These displays are smaller but also stylish, with chrome treatments, and are high performance displays at less than 1” depth. They are LED-backlit, high-contrast, and have a USB input for use as a picture viewer. “When we were specifying the storage case for this line, we chose a microfiber case that is also used to wipe the display clean,” Newsome says. “We don’t lose focus on style and use just because the display is small.”

And although VIZIO has found success selling direct to the end user, they’re turning their attention to the custom integration market with a line of new HDTVs for home installers called the XVT Pro series. XVTs – an acronym for Xtreme VIZIO Technology — was launched in August 2008 with all of two TVs in the line-up. The aim was to bring the latest cutting edge, HDTV technology to the pros through select high end retailers and CI channels.

Since then, XVT series has performed really well. VIZIO has increased the number of models and expanded the XVT concept to larger TVs. Newsome is excited to expand into new areas of technology and points to an example – a 72” behemoth that is the largest HDTV in their XVT Pro 2010 collection. It features 480Hz refresh rate, built-in wireless HDMI and built-in 802.11n wireless Internet.

The VIZIO brand is so recognizable to end users, I wondered how a custom installer could explain why they were charging more for similar TVs that are found at Best Buy for less money? Newsome explains, “XVT Pro has technology that may make it difficult to sell at wholesale channels.”

Presumably, she means their FULL HD3D using Sensio 3D technology, wireless HDMI, and their Internet platform called VIZIO INTERNET APPS (VIA). The home AV market can look forward to seeing the new XVT Pro line by October 2009, just in time for football season.

Newsome says that the big trends for the year are still amazing picture quality, big sound, access to online content, stylish implementation and ease of use. VIZIO is expanding their reach into Blu-ray players, Internet radios and VIZIO branded 802.11n wireless routers. Announced at CES and available at the end of February, the new VIZIO Blu-ray players will offer three free HD streams from content partner VUDU, so users can enjoy HD content right out of the box.

As Newsome says, VIZIO continues aiming for exclusive and unique offers. Linda Seid Frembes is a rAVe columnist who covers AV technology, installs, market trends and industry news. Linda has worked with high profile AV manufacturers, trade organization, systems integrators, rep firms and dealer/distributors in the industry including John Lyons Systems, Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW), Northern Sound & Light (NSL), and InfoComm International, among others. Reach her at linda@ravepubs.com