Looks like Vizio is pulling itself out of some hot water. The popular television manufacturer (among other products) has been fined $2.2 million, payable to the FTC and the State of New Jersey, for some pretty serious privacy violations. Starting in 2014, Vizio has sold Internet-connected TVs that track what the customers watch and send that data back to its servers.
A little while after LG's announcement that it would add Google Home compatibility to its Music Flow line, Vizio steps up and makes a similar announcement for its SmartCast series of connected speakers, displays, and the like. This will add the strength of voice control to Chromecast-ready devices like the Crave 360 and Pro speakers.
If you've been waiting to "smart" up your home theater's audio, Vizio may have just given you incentive to pull the trigger on a purchase with its new SmartCast sound bar collection, launched today. They start at just a paltry $180 for the basic 38" three-driver sound bar and go all the way up to $500 for fully-equipped 5.1 systems. What makes them smart? Well, they're Google Cast enabled right out of the box, meaning you can cast audio to your Vizio SmartCast speakers just like a Chromecast, and that's pretty damn cool.
At launch, Vizio has nine configurations available, so there's probably a setup that fits in a price:performance:practicality bracket for you.
Vizio's P-Series 4K TVs* are about to get infinitely more Google-y. The new second generation models (P-Series Ultra HD HDR Home Theater Display is the full name, but we'll gloss over that) come with Google Cast built-in, meaning a Chromecast or Cast-enabled set-top box isn't needed in order to cast over content.
There are four of them, all at different sizes and prices; 50-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch and 75-inch, ranging from $1,000 to $3,800. Note that Google Cast is different from Android TV - these TVs have no apps built-in, with all interaction being through Cast, same as when a Chromecast is plugged into a TV.
Vizio's pulled the curtains off two new Portable Smart Audio speakers that are powered by Android 4.4. What makes them special are the touchscreens embedded into the front of each device. Instead of having to pair them with a phone using Bluetooth, users will be free to stream music directly from the likes of Spotify and Pandora or enjoy video from Netflix or YouTube. Think of each version as a bulky tablet that doesn't need to rest in your lap, one with speakers that you won't leave you reaching for earbuds.
The Portable Smart Audio line doesn't have the most memorable name, but consumers will have two options to pick from once these land on store shelves.
If you like Nexus tablets, Vizio is gunning for your wallet. Today, the company announced a duo of tablets running stock Android. The first is most similar to the Nexus 10: a 10" display with the same retina-melting 2560x1600 resolution, only this one is powered by a Tegra 4 processor. Kal-El may not be a slouch, but let's be real. It's hard to not envy the 72 GPU cores that Wayne is packing.
Here are the known specs for the device:
10" 2560x1600 display
Tegra 4 SoC
Front & rear cameras
Mini USB (Yes, mini not micro; see center photo below)
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (model shown running 4.1)
As if that wasn't enough, the company also announced a direct Nexus 7 competitor.
Google I/O has come and gone with nary a mention of Google TV. Disheartening to say the least, but that doesn't mean that the platform is dead. Not while manufacturers keep making products for it. Products like the Vizio Co-Star. For $99, the Co-Star sits in the right sweet spot for Google TV device pricing. Combine the price with a remote that's smaller than a plank of wood, and OnLive gaming built right in, the little box actually looks like a pretty sweet deal. If Google TV is your thing, that is.
Estimated shipping for this device starts on August 14th.
If you've been wanting to check out Google TV but just couldn't justify shelling out a couple hundred (or more) dollars for the sake of seeing what it's all about, Vizio's new Co-Star Stream Player could be the answer you've been waiting for.
Announced just today, the Co-Star is a $99 Google TV that connects to your current set-top box via HDMI pass-through. It offers the full-on Google TV experience, including an HTML 5 Chrome browser, 1080p and 3D support, a host of apps, and a two-sided universal touchpad remote. What's more, the Co-Star also features baked-in support for OnLive streaming.
If you're at all into TV, you've heard of Hulu. Chances are, you're watching something on Hulu right now on your PC, phone, XBOX360, Wii, Roku, PS3, iPad, 3DS, or any of the other supported devices. The list is pretty long, but until today it had one glaring omission - Android tablets. Sure, some tablets, like the Kindle Fire, HTC Flyer, or the Vizio VTAB, were already supported, but they were running Gingerbread and didn't have a proper tablet UI. Well, no more.
Hulu has released an update to the Hulu Plus (app available to Plus subscribers for $7.99 a month) that introduces a brand new tablet-optimized interface and support for the following tablet devices:
Asus Eee Pad Transformer
Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime
Motorola XYBoard 10.1
Acer Iconia (although it's unclear which Iconia exactly, because the A100 is incompatible - they probably mean the A500)
Vizio 8" Tablet
It was puzzling to see no mention of any Galaxy Tab variants on that list, most notably the 10.1, and I've confirmed it's indeed listed as incompatible.
Woot.com has done it again, offering another great deal on an Android-powered piece of mobile tech. Up for grabs this time is a refurbished 8" VTAB from Vizio.
The VTAB is a budget-friendly slate running Android 2.3 Gingerbread (with Vizio's V.I.A. Plus interface). Woot is offering the VTAB, along with a handy folio case, for just $159.99 plus $5 shipping, which is a cool $170 off Vizio's list price.
Here's a more complete look at the VTAB's specs:
Android 2.3 Gingerbread (With V.I.A. Interface)
8" LCD Display at 1024x768
Front-facing VGA Camera
4GB Internal Storage (Expandable to 32GB via MicroSD)
Micro HDMI Port
If you're in the market for a basic, budget-friendly Android tablet, head over to Woot.com and take advantage of the deal before time runs out.