Television Maker Vizio Enters Android Smartphones and Tablets


Vizio, the maker of inexpensive LCD TV sets and Blu-ray players, is expanding outside the living room with two new products.

New arrivals include a four-inch smartphone and an affordable tablet, both driven by Google’s Android software and supporting the flurry of third-party apps available on Anroid Market, their chief technology officer Matthew McRae confirmed Monday. 

The 300 people-strong company based in Irvine, California has been racing Samsung since last year for the title of the leading maker of plat-panel TVs in the US.

It looks like Visio will leverage its existing business and try to upsell customers to its new gadgets that are said to share a similar user interface as its TV sets and other consumer electronics gear.

Vizio’s foray into the smartphone space is called Via Phone, pictured on the left. It has a four-inch touchscreen, two cameras for videoconferencing and shooting video and is set to launch with an extensive carrier lineup, the company confirmed.

The tablet tentatively named the Via Tablet will pack in an eight-inch touchscreen, WiFi connectivity, three speakers and a forward-facing camera for video calling. No cellular connectivity is planned for the tablet at this stage.

The Via Phone and Tablet were first spotted in a Superbowl advert yesterday, embedded below.

Both devices utilize Google’s Android operating system and will be capable of running a variety of third-party apps offered on Android Market, it has been confirmed.

In addition, these products will feature an HDMI port to hook up to an HDTV set and will also double as remote controls for Vizio’s living room products such as flat-panel TVs and Blu-ray players.

The gadgets will also support Vizio’s Via Plus online service that hosts simple apps for their LCD TV sets, the stuff like Facebook and Twitter clients, Netflix player and more.

The company is expected to formally announce the Via Phone and Via Tablet at the upcoming CES show that kicks off on Wednesday in Las Vegas.

In addition to the latest hardware, a new video-on-demand service to be called Vizio on Demand is expected at CES, as well as sub-$300 3D TV sets.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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