Vizio To Launch $99 Streaming Box, Trumps Roku and Apple TV In Features

Screen shot 2012-01-10 at 6.37.06 PM[Updated August 21, 20102: Check out my review of the new Vizio player at: “Vizio Co-Star Review: Hands-On With Vizio’s New $99 Streaming Box“]

At the CES show, Vizio announced a bunch of new TVs and computers, but the most interesting product they briefly mentioned was a new box called the Vizio VAP430 Stream Player. Vizio’s press release didn’t include a lot of details on the device, but Vizio was kind enough to answer a lot of questions for me in a phone interview late Tuesday.

The box, which will launch in the first half of this year in the U.S. only, will be priced at $99 and be sold exclusively via Vizio’s website. The box has built in ethernet, WiFi, two HDMI ports (in and out), DLNA support, one audio IR port and has USB to support the playback of local content. Vizio didn’t have a list of all the formats that will be supported for local content playback but did say it will support at least MPEG4, WMV and MP3 amongst others. The box supports 1080p streaming and is so robust, Vizio says it also supports 3D streaming and will have an app for OnLive’s gaming service.

On the content side, the box comes bundled with the Google TV platform which Vizio says they have completely re-skinned, thereby creating a new user interface for the Google TV platform. In addition the box supports content offerings from Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Amazon Instant Video, HBO GO, Wall Street Journal, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker Radio, M-GO video-on-demand and other content services not yet announced.

Included with the box is a bluetooth touchpad universal remote with QWERTY keyboard. Vizio says the idea with the all in one remote is to allow customers to connect cable or satellite set-top boxes through the player’s built-in HDMI ports for a smoother experience for the overlay of live TV. Vizio says the user experience switching between live TV, Google TV and apps is similar to the transition that Apple has in OS X with spotlight. If that’s the case, it means the user experience and interface is going to be very fast and really polished. While the box is currently called the “Vizio Stream Player”, Vizio said they plan to brand the box with a better name at the time of release.

Over the years, a lot of companies have tried to compete in the $99 streaming box market, with Roku being the leader of the pack and selling 1.5M boxes last year. In addition Apple (Apple TV), Western Digital (WD TV Live), Sony (SMP-N200) and Netgear (NeoTV) also have offerings in the market, but none of them come bundled with the Goolge TV platform, have HDMI in and most don’t have DLNA support. Vizio has a great brand name, lots of penetration in the living room with their TV sets and if the device performs as well as Vizio claims, the company should sell a lot of these boxes.

  • Interesting thing, I don’t wonder that it is connected with Google+, they want to increase quantity of its users. Let’s see how this device will compete with ultrabooks.

  • Jake

    umm… why would this compete with ultrabooks? This is a media streaming box – while the ultrabook is a computer.

  • Carl

    I love this in principle, especially if it allows me to pass through the output from my DVR and treat it as a peer to local and streaming content. When I go to watch a movie, I don’t want to have to think so hard about whether I ripped it from my DVD, bought it on Amazon Cloud, or recorded it from Dish.

  • Marty

    Would i be able to stream my local content (like copied tv programs) with the Vizio VAP430 Stream Player?

  • kimosabey

    I am so excited about the CES offering more TV boxes since Apple will come out at MacWorld or their own announcement to show us what is available. This new product by Visio ties more ability and pushes the available content. I will have streaming, recorded and live shows to chose from and that means less cable expense.

  • ricky

    wow… cant wait.. im already converting to the generic brand electronic. I used to laugh at this brand. and now i have a tv a blu ray player. next is my stream player and computer.. LOL! for real though ive been converted. no i dnt have to rip anything… just copy to usb and thats it.. what more can you ask for.!!!

  • Chandler

    I think this is a great idea! I was kinda angerd when I found out that the logitech revue was COMPLETELY sold-out!!! I’m glad that Vizio is entering their product at the Revue’s departing price of $99. It will definately be a competator for the apple TV but for now Honeycomb Google TV beats apple TV by a long run because it has the Android market whereas apple does not supply their consumers with any app market. I am impatiently waiting for the release of this amazing product so that I can get my hands on Netflix!

  • Karen

    I have a Revue, and while pretty happy with it, it is apparent that Logitech will not support nor upgrade this device much longer. I am looking for another media streamer that will work with Plex and this appears to fit the bill. I can’t wait until it is available.