The battle for the next generation of television content delivery ticked up a few degrees today with Vizio’s debut of the new Co-Star box, which promises to “turn any HDTV into the ultimate smart TV.”
Of course, that’s just some typical PR jargon — but it could actually be fairly accurate. The Co-Star comes loaded with Google TV (and all its video and Web-browsing benefits), as well as apps like Netflix, iHeartRadio, and Amazon Instant Video. On top of all that — which, aside from the Google TV part, is completely standard in boxes like this — the Co-Star also includes a unique addition: OnLive, the streaming video game service, which allows users to play games on the cloud.
“Our focus to deliver the best consumer experience continues with today’s announcement of the Co-Star, which delivers a superior smart TV interface that anyone can add to their existing HDTV,” said Matt McRae, VIZIO’s Chief Technology Officer in a statement. “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.”
Again, more PR jargon. But this time, all we can do is hope that McRae is right; these types of video streaming boxes live or die on their user interface (and their price, of course). If the Co-Star’s UI is easy to navigate, intuitive, and more-or-less free of bugs, then it should do well. And at just $99, the price is certainly right. (Though we can still see buyers in this market going for the tried-and-true Roku box, which starts at just $50, and tops out at $100 — but doesn’t include Google TV, which could be a deal-breaker.)
As far as technical specs go, the Co-Star touches on all the right notes: support for 1080p HD and 3D video, built-in Wi-Fi, and USB port (to connect hard drives, keyboards, etc). The Co-Star also comes with a Bluetooth universal remote with touchpad, and a full QWERTY keyboard.
Release date has not yet been announced.