We’re expecting to see many new tablets and phones this week at the Consumer Electronics Show, and one new player in the market has already made its plans public: Vizio will be rolling out its Via Android phone and tablet later this summer. It’s a bold change for a company best known for bargain-priced HDTVs.
The planned announcement, first reported Sunday night in the Wall Street Journal, shows just how easily companies with no experience in the mobile arena can deliver products powered by Google’s Android OS. It’s also a sign that the market for Android devices will become even more crowded and confusing for consumers in 2011.
Nothing about Vizio’s new mobile devices is as surprising as the fact that they exist at all. The Via phone will sport a 4-inch screen, front-facing camera, and 8 megapixel rear camera. The Via Tablet will be WiFi-only (meaning it won’t feature any mobile internet capabilities like the iPad or Galaxy Tab), will sport an 8-inch screen and it will also have dual cameras.
By this point, we can expect the majority of other Android tablets and phones announced at CES to resemble Vizio’s mobile device specs, making it difficult for any of them to stand out. Vizio says it will once again rely on low prices to push its Via devices, and they will also integrate with its televisions by acting as mobile remote controls and feature HDMI ports to output video.
The company says it hired mobile specialists from Nokia and other mobile manufacturers to work on the devices. A team of less than ten people have been developing the phone and tablet over the past year and a-half.
The company is also planning to unveil 3D HDTVs below $300, and a video service dubbed “Vizio on Demand” which will work across multiple devices, at the Consumer Electronics Show.