It’s a household name in the United States, but budget-oriented tech retailer Vizio has steered clear of European sales in the past – which is a damn shame, considering its TV and audio products regularly punch well above what their price tags would suggest they’re capable of.
But that’s all about to change, with Vizio set to enter the UK market this summer. While TVs are its most lust-worthy products, it’s in the world of home audio that the company's kicking off its European assault.
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Cinematic sound on a budget
“We’ve done well in the United States with soundbars – we’re number one in unit share this past 12 month period,” explains Mitch Li, VP of Business Planning in Audio at Vizio.
“And so with the vision of the company, [which is] to bring value to consumers in the marketplace, we thought it was time to move outside of the United States. We thought that the European market, and with our partners in [distributors] Exertis, it would be a fantastic place to bring our product.”
Vizio will be first bringing the SP362AN-S6E soundbar to the UK, at an attractive £149 price point, this summer.
“It’s a 2.1 solution, 36-inches long, it’s got two subwoofers, two passives, and really packs a lot of punch for a single bar solution,” says Li.
“Because of our focus in the United States on the consumer, and on bringing value to the consumer, what you can expect from Vizio is a great out-of-the-box experience.”
Taking a swipe at competitors who offer 'surround sound' solutions for consumers, only for the customer to find they need to buy separate speakers and cabling to complete their immersive audio set, Vizio promises that all required equipment for a system will arrive in your box:
“Everything you need will be in it and included – all cables necessary to hook up the specific bar that you buy will be in the box. We’ll even offer a simple wall mount solution where necessary. And when you buy any configuration, you should expect to see those speakers as listed on the box, on the package, on the marketing materials, exactly as you’d expect to get it when you take the bar home.”
Where Vizio has really impressed in the past is its ability to bring high-end features to consumers in budget-priced products, and its Dolby Atmos audio line-up is perhaps the best example of this.
Li states that “there’s an Atmos bar coming to the UK. It’s a 36-inch 5.1.2,” but wouldn’t be drawn on an exact release date beyond a loose summer window.
Should things go well, Vizio will be looking at bringing some of its more lavish products to the UK too.
“I can’t speak to actual pricing in the range yet, as we’re still working with partners to determine the products and price tags they want to carry,” explains Li.
“As you know, we’ve a lot of soundbar SKUs in the United States, and we’re trying to figure out what makes sense. For reference, we’ve got a Dolby Atmos bar, 46-inch, 5.1.4, that retails in the US for $999. So I’d reasonably assume it’d be somewhat close to that.”
- Check out our Vizio Dolby Atmos soundbar review
Flexibility in form
Li also promises that Vizio will be bringing the same long-term support to its products in the UK as it has done in the US.
“For example, in the US, we found that it’d be useful to control your high-firing speakers,” says Li.
“So we developed new firmware, and released the means to control that to the public. As we learn about features that are valuable, we continue to update the product whenever possible."
“So what the expectation should be is that Vizio is going to bring value to the consumer, because we’re going to do our best to put the best components into the bar, and tune them to a very high standard, to the point where we’re hoping we get the same level of kudos as we do in the United States.”
Soundbars may not always set the world alight with anticipation, but Vizio isn’t adverse to trying unusual form factors to get its products into as many living rooms as possible.
“Not everyone’s living room is the same. Some people, they don’t like having a subwoofer to the side of their display, so we’ve thought about alternative form factors,” explains Li.
“One is a slimmer form factor that can slide under many couches, based on the height of the sub. The performance is still absolutely amazing –, we’ve not compromised on the bass output at all," he explains.
"It’s just that you can stretch acoustic volumes in different dimensions, and we’ve customised the transducer. And as a result of that, you can get the same level of performance, and offer an alternative to the consumer. You can say ‘Hey, in the event that this doesn’t work for your situation, how about an alternative form factor?’”
And as for those tempting TVs coming to Europe?
“We’re here to talk about audio, so all I can say is we’ll evaluate, and if conditions prove to be right, we’ll see what can happen.” That’ll be based on the performance of the audio line in the UK, “among other things,” Li teases.