Vizio plans summer launch of tablet, phone, VOD service

Vizio is planning to launch a low-cost Android-based tablet and a mobile phone this summer that will be able to access a soon-to-be launched video download service, Vizio on Demand, which will allow users to start watching a movie on one device and finish it on another.

Vizio already operates its Vizio Via Plus Internet service on its array of connected TVs, which gives users access to social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, the Android Market and includes apps like Netflix, giving them the ability to stream movies on demand, and Hulu Plus.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the phone, tablet and Vizio's connected TVs will share an interface that will make navigating each device similar, a key goal of the company's push into new market segments.

Both the phone and tablet include HDMI connections, making it easy to connect them to a television. Users will also be able to use the phone and tablet as remote control devices for any Vizio product. "We've specifically focused on making it a great multimedia experience," said Matthew McRae, Vizio's chief technology officer.

The tablet, called the Via Tablet, will feature an 8-inch screen as well as a front-facing camera that will allow users to video conference, but will have wireless WiFi connectivity only. The lack of cellular connectivity is seen as a limiting factor.

McRae said Vizio is introducing the devices with an eye on affordability, telling the Journal Vizio weighed providing "the best that's out there to your typical Wal-Mart shopper. Everybody deserves the latest technology."

The inexpensive (McRae declined to specify a price) tablet is likely to pressure other tablet makers to move prices lower as the segment accelerates in 2011. iSuppli forecasts tablet sales, which were estimated at 18 million units in 2010, will more than triple in 2011 to at least 61 million units.

For more:
- see this WSJ article

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