We've been hearing about Vizio's Tablet since CES, and just as the inventory leaks suggested, the $349 8-inch slab is gearing up for a July launch. We got a chance to check out the Android 2.3 tablet this morning, and while it was still an early model, we walked away with quite a few impressions and some video. So, what happens when a TV manufacturer tries to create a tablet? Hit the break to find out.
Hardware-wise, Vizio's put together a very nice feeling slab. It does feel a bit weighty in hand (Vizio hasn't released the exact poundage), but the rubberish back gives it a very nice feel in hand. I was worried it would feel cheap since it looks a lot like a Pandigital e-reader from afar, but that's certainly not the case. It's surrounded by a mini USB port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and three speakers. The latter trio actually happens to be quite loud — I could hear audio over the almost deafening showfloor chatter. The screen is where things start to diminish in quality: the 1024x768-resolution panel is incredibly glossy and the viewing angles didn't impress when I was trying to take pictures from the side. That said, the display was responsive, though the software was noticeably sluggish in some instances.
Ah yes, the software. The tablet is powered by a 1GHz single-core processor (also, no exact spec release yet) and runs Gingerbread. Vizio tells us that it will be upgraded to Honeycomb after launch, but considering the tablet was having a hard time pushing along the VIA Plus app interface we have our doubts about that. The interface, as you will see in the video, is very straightforward and, well, app driven — it strictly consists of an app tray and a few shortcuts along the bottom of the screen. There's access to the Market, and Google's services are preloaded. The main differentiators are obviously the tablet's IR blaster and its ability to act as a remote for any Vizio TV. You can see the remote app in action in the video below, but a Vizio rep also told us the company is investigating adding more capabilities, such as the ability to stream from the tablet to your Vizio TV.
With that IR / remote feature, we assume Vizio will be able to push the tablet in conjunction with a bunch of its aggressively-priced TV sets at retailers, but our early takeaway here is that this $349 tablet is going to have a hard time competing in a market where tablets like the $399 ASUS Transformer pack more power and higher end components.
P.S. In other news, Vizio says it is pushing along with its VIA phone. According to them, making a phone is pretty hard. Who knew?!