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Vizio Dipping into Tablets, Smartphones Sector

Sunday the Wall Street Journal reported that Irvine, Calif.-based VIZIO Inc. is entering the tablet and smartphone sectors this summer.

According to the report, the Android-based VIA Tablet will feature an 8-inch high-resolution screen, a front-facing camera for video conferencing, three speakers and 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity. The device actually showed up in the hands of VIZIO Chief Sales Officer Randy Waynick as he talked about sponsoring the Rose Bowl during a 31-second TV spot (seen below).

"Freedom to view [the game] on any of our great new products from anywhere," he teased as he watched the game via a mystery tablet while sitting in an empty football stadium.

Held vertically, the tablet itself didn't sport any distinguishable features in the brief showing save for the VIZIO name located at the top-right of the touch screen. Three touch buttons aligned at the bottom were hard to determine, however a separate press image provided by the Wall Street Journal indicated that they may serve as Back, Home and Menu functions. Given that the Journal's photo also shows the buttons to be located at the bottom when placed in a horizontal position, the black bevel may provide additional swipe functions and virtual buttons that adjust to the tablet's position.

As for the VIA Phone, the device will reportedly sport a 4-inch high-resolution capacitive touch screen, a rear-facing 5M camera with video recording capability, a front-facing camera for video conferencing, and the Android operating system. Both the tablet and smartphone will be Google sanctioned, meaning they will have access to Google services such as the coveted Android Market.

The Wall Street Journal said that VIZIO Chief Technology Officer Matthew McRae declined to provide pricing, however he told the paper that the strategy is to provide affordable products with innovative features, "the best that's out there to your typical Walmart shopper."

"Everybody deserves the latest technology," he said.

Monday VIZIO followed-up with an official press release exposing more hardware specs for its VIA Tablet and VIA Phone. Both will be connected to the company's VIA Plus "ecosystem" that spans across multiple devices including VIZIO-branded HDTVs, Blu-ray players and more.

According to the PR, the VIA Phone will also sport a 1 GHz processor, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, a microSD card slot, and an HDMI output. The VIA Tablet also uses 1 GHz processor, Bluetooth, a microSD card slot, and an HDMI output. However both devices will also include a built-in IR blaster with a universal remote control app "for quick access to the entire home theater or nearly any other CE device in the home."

VIZIO said it will be demonstrating the VIA Phone and VIA Tablet in their private CES showcase at the Wynn Hotel from January 6 to 9, 2011. The company also plans to discuss a new video-downloading service called VIZIO On Demand which allows consumers to start a movie on one device and finish it on another.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • house70
    yep... after poor quality tv sets, here come poor quality tablets and phones...
  • mayankleoboy1
    more the merrier!
  • aaron88_7
    Poor quality TV sets? Have you ever actually looked at a Vizio TV? My grandfather's 240mhz Vizio blows away any other LCD I've seen and it cost a fraction of what Samsung or Sony would charge. I'm reluctant to buy one myself simply because they are produced in China and I prefer to support democratic countries like Korea, but the price difference and quality makes me think buying a TV made by slaves might not be so bad after all.
  • tical2399
    Poor quality? That stuff you smokin is some good quality i see. My 42 inch 1080p set i bought back in jan 2008 is going strong and has no issue at all. On the other hand my boy had to have is "quality" 46 inch samsung serviced twice in the last two semesters.

    I'm guessin you buy monster cables instead of going to monoprice dont you.
  • stingray71
    Like Vizio, usually good bang for the buck. I bought 55" Viz few months ago. Samsung had a slightly better picture, but was $400 more. Viz also came with more features, wifi, netflix etc. No brainer for me.
  • milktea
    I wonder if Viewsonic would also join the Android race. They make pretty decent displays.
  • southernshark
    I've been very happy with my Vizio 26" 1080p "TV" which I've used as a monitor. I bought it for a great price and its made an awesome monitor. Its also got a ton of connectors. So sometimes I use it as an extra TV (I've got a Dish cable going to it) and sometimes I play PS3 on it. I've got another tv, but you know sometimes you want to do more than one thing on it. Anyway, Vizio is good stuff.