Following in Sony's recent footsteps, Vizio has released a set-top box with Google TV embedded. However, Vizio's entry, the 'Co-Star,' is half the price of Sony's--coming in at $100.
The Vizio Co-Star will be available to preorder in July in the United States via Vizio.com. Sony will start shipping the NSZ-GS7 Internet Player next month in the U.S., followed by a U.K. launch, which will be the first time Google TV has appeared in England.
The Google TV software is an extension of Google's search algorithm, and aims to aggregate video streams from online, over-the-top (OTT) and broadcast sources into one, convenient portal for the consumer. The problem, however, which Logitech and Sony found out the hard way when they debuted the inaugural Google TV products were launched in 2010, is that content owners saw the open approach as a one-way ticket to piracy hell. Meanwhile, broadcasters saw it as a potential cannibaliser to advertising, because it would return either linear broadcast results with premium ads, or potentially an online source with the same content but lesser-value advertising. The result has been a hamstrung content experience, legal woes and more. And, to add insult to injury, consumers were flummoxed by a clunky user experience.
And so, the new boxes will endeavour to succeed where others have failed. A simpler user interface and a better apps experience has arrived with the second version of the software, for which Google has signed Vizio, Sony, LG and Samsung. And now that TV Everywhere is more widely deployed, content, media and broadcast companies may be more amenable to the open hybrid approach.
The Bluetooth- and DLNA-enabled Co-Star will come with Google Chrome and full Web browsing including Flash support and HTML 5, video games on-demand through the OnLive Game Service, and the Google Play store will offer native apps for Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and YouTube and others.
Specs-wise, the Vizio set-top supports 1080p Full HD and 3D video, provides built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi and an integrated USB port. It also comes with a universal touchscreen remote and a full QWERTY keyboard.