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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.