Vizio began life in the US TV market as a budget-priced alternative to expensive Sharp and Sony LCDs, but the company has expanded its offerings in recent years to include surprisingly high quality televisions. Now Vizio has taken the wraps off its big plans for 2011, with two major launch announcements hitting right before CES. Not only does the company have a dizzying 21 3D TVs slated for 2011, it plans to launch Google TV-equipped TVs and Blu-Ray players as part of a new VIA Plus initiative.
Vizio even has plans to break out of the TV market with an Android-powered smartphone and tablet duo. Here’s what we can expect from Vizio at this year’s CES.
Vizio’s 21 3D TV models range from 22” up to 71”. While prices are still TBD, expect quite a gap between the 60Hz 22” TV and larger 120Hz models. Vizio claims its Theater 3D technology produces a brighter picture than current Active Shutter LCDs with less crosstalk, and Theater 3D uses passive 3G glasses technology instead of the battery-powered glasses of many home 3D systems.
Each Vizio 3D TV will support a variety of 3D display methods including “Frame Packing, Side-by-Side, Top and Bottom, SENSIO® HiFi 3D and the RealD Format.” Vizio’s Razor LED models feature selective dimming in 32 zones across the panel, while its TruLED models provide even better smart dimming in 120 distinct zones. Some of the 3D Vizio models will pack in four sets of glasses, which will be nice for those families who want to share the 3D experience together without paying up for more glasses. Look for them to start shipping this Spring.
VIA Plus will share media across Vizio TVs, Blu-Ray players, and more. Two of those 21 new 3D TVs will be VIA Plus models. VIA Plus will offer media connectivity between compatible devices, including Vizio’s new Android smart phone and tablet. Buy one VIA Plus device, and it’s not going to do a whole lot for you. But if you own a few Vizio products, you’ll be able to tap into the VIA Plus ecosystem: “Consumers will be able to begin content consumption from one device and seamlessly transition the content to another device allowing entertainment to be continuously enjoyed anywhere and anyplace without interruption.”
Vizio’s upcoming smart phone and tablet will sport IR blasters and remote control apps to interface with other VIA Plus devices. There will be more Internet apps, as well, but we won’t know exactly what Vizio has in store for VIA Plus until CES. Google TV factors in somehow, though from what we've heard Vizio's Google TV implementation will only be shown behind closed doors at CES.
We’ll likely get the full story on those Android devices, as well, but we know quite a bit already: Vizio’s smart phone boasts a 4” screen, 5 megapixel camera, front-facing cam and microSD slot. HDMI out is no surprise--maybe we’ll see some fun connectivity between the phone and Vizio’s TVs. The tablet’s screen measures in at 8”, and runs on a 1GHz processor just like the smaller phone. The front-facing cam, microSD support and HDMI out are there, too, and the tablet’s three speakers should give it a leg up when it comes to media playback.
Would you ever buy a Vizio smart phone? And what about that tablet--intrigued by an 8” form factor? Could 2011 be the year Vizio breaks free from the TV market to find success in other sectors?