Following on the heels of Vizio’s surprising Android phone and tablet announcement, the company is also revealing that it’s bringing Android to the living room with its new Google TV-powered VIA Plus HDTVs and Blu-ray players, and it’s readying a new 3D line.
What’s most surprising about VIA Plus is that it doesn’t look like Google TV at all. Judging from the screenshots we’ve seen, it looks like Vizio has created a widget-based Skin for Google TV that resembles Yahoo’s Connected TV apps (which the company uses for its older VIA HDTV line). VIA Plus will also allow consumers to pause and resume content across multiple devices, including VIA phones and tablets.
HTC and other companies have developed different user interfaces for Android mobile devices, but this is the first time we’ve seen how malleable the Android-powered Google TV platform can be. Both Sony and Logitech have already released Google TV products with its default user interface.
We reported a few weeks ago that Google asked TV partners to delay showing off their products at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, so that leaves Vizio with one of the few GTV-related announcements.
Additionally, Vizio is also introducing a line of “Theater 3D” HDTV sets that range from 22 to 71-inches and feature support for passive 3D glasses. Unlike competing HDTV sets that require powered 3D glasses, Vizio’s Theater 3D line will process 3D in the TV set, allowing consumers to use passive and unpowered 3D glasses like those used in most movie theaters. Passive glasses are cheaper than active 3D glasses, and I suspect we’ll see even more TV manufacturers making use of them this year.
Most of the Theater 3D HDTVs will feature Vizio’s VIA app platform, which is powered by Yahoo’s widgets. Two Theater 3D models (at 47 and 55-inches) will feature VIA Plus instead.