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Vizio Tablet looks good on paper — But will it sell?

All the predictions about rival tablets overtaking Apple’s iPad have been wrong, so we won’t make another one about the Vizio tablet, although the pro

By PETER WHITE

Published: 30 June, 2011

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All the predictions about rival tablets overtaking Apple’s iPad have been wrong, so we won’t make another one about the Vizio tablet, although the product sounds appealing. Few thought Vizio TVs would succeed to the extent they have — the number one brand of LCD TV in the States and all of North America.

Vizio now has its sights set on taking the tablet market.

It said its Vizio VTAB1008 8-inch tablet with Wi-Fi will be available at retail this summer. It’s based on Android so it will have at launch the ability to access more than 200,000 apps in the Android Market. Other Vizio VIA Plus products that will support the apps are the XVT 6 series 47-inch and 55-inch 3D HDTVs, plus its Blu-ray players and the Vizio smartphone when it launches.

Vizio VIA Plus HDTVs and Blu-ray players will come with a Bluetooth touchpad universal remote with keyboard for full Web browsing and search. They’ll have 802.11n Wi-Fi. The Vizio tablet has an IR blaster so it can be used as a remote for up to 95% of the remote-controllable CE devices in the U.S.

CTO Matthew McRae said Vizio is “bringing a new level of cohesiveness to the HD entertainment experience, beyond what conventional CE devices have been able to deliver in the past.” The company, he said, thinks “it’s important that the next generation of CE devices offer a seamless user experience across all screens, from the living room to their handhelds.”

It’s got all the functions it needs except 3G. The Vizio tablet is fully equipped: a 1 GHz processor, an 8-inch 1024x768 capacitive touchscreen, front-facing camera, GPS and both 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It said the battery lasts up to 10 hours depending on usage. Its 2GB of onboard storage can extended with a microSD card, up to a maximum of 32GB. HD video playback to a TV set can be done through its micro HDMI output. It has a three-speaker design for stereo audio. Vizio’s SRS TruMedia technology is said to optimize “the audio experience.”

Other than the drawbacks of Android, Vizio’s tablet has all the hardware features except perhaps for the smaller screen. The key to the success of the Vizio tablet will be distribution and pricing. It has a strong distribution network for its TV sets, anchored by Walmart, although Best Buy does not sell its products, so far at least. Vizio did not announce the tablet’s prices — or suggested pricing.

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