Following up on the success that its sound bars enjoyed last year, Vizio is porting its audio expertise into two new product categories at CES 2014. The Sound Stand is the company’s addition to a growing segment of single-box speaker solutions, designed to act as a pedestal for televisions while beefing up their sonic capabilities. The compact speaker belts out sound that defies its compact size via a 5-inch subwoofer, dual full-range drivers, and a sprinkling of whatever magic dust it is that makes Vizio’s audio products so approachable.
Vizio is also showing off two new portable Bluetooth-enabled speakers, but what sets these apart from the increasingly dense competition are built-in Android tablets. The smaller 4.6-inch and larger 7-inch touchscreen tablets in each speaker run the latest KitKat OS and are intended to provide a sound source for the speaker at all times, whether a separate mobile device is present or not. Whereas boomboxes of the past may have carried FM tuners, tape decks and CD players, the tablets integrated into these new speakers provide instant access to Pandora, Spotify, YouTube, vTuner and anything else available from the Google Play store.
Vizio’s sound bars will return with a few refinements, and they sound as competitive as they did last year. However, aside from some size adjustments and a few new tricks under the hood, the sound bars appear mostly the same. One notable new addition is the inclusion of HDMI ARC inputs on the top two models, something that should please those with higher-end televisions outfitted with the same technology.