Consumer-electronics maker Vizio is pricing its Google TV-based set-top to move at $100 -- half the price of a similar device from rival Sony Electronics -- among the renewed attempts by the Internet giant and its partners to persuade consumers to Web-enable their TV viewing experience.
The Vizio Co-Star will be available to preorder in July only on Vizio.com for $99.99, with an introductory free-shipping offer. Sony next month plans to begin shipping its own Google TV set-top, the NSZ-GS7 Internet Player, with a list price of $199.
The first wave of Google TV products, launched in 2010 by Sony and Logitech, bombed with consumers. Google simplified the user interface, made it easier to access apps and implemented other changes with version 2.0 of the software. The company has signed up CE partners including Vizio, Sony, LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics for its second run at the Internet-connected TV space.
Like other Google TV devices, Vizio's Co-Star set-top merges live TV with access to apps in the Google Play store for Android devices -- including those for Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and YouTube. It also provides full-screen Web browsing capabilities via Google Chrome with Adobe Flash Player and HTML 5 support, and includes Google TV's search function that spans websites, online video content and TV listings.
Vizio claimed that the Co-Star is the first Internet set-top to offer video games on-demand through the OnLive Game Service. Palo Alto, Calif.-based OnLive investors include Warner Bros., Maverick Capital, AT&T, BT, HTC and Juniper Networks.
The Vizio set-top includes a Bluetooth-enabled universal remote with a touchpad and full QWERTY keyboard. The box supports 1080p Full HD and 3D video, provides built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi and an integrated USB port to connect hard drives, keyboards and other peripherals. The Vizio Co-Star also lets viewers access photos, music and movies from any DLNA-enabled phone, tablet, or computer on the TV screen.
"We combined the powerful features of Google TV with an intuitive and easy to use interface, giving users the power to enjoy an entire world of entertainment," Vizio chief technology officer Matt McRae said in a statement.