Today VIZIO announced that their $99 Google TV box, the Co-Star, is now available for pre-order. Customers who pre-order can take advantage of free shipping for a limited time and the first units are expected to be available around August 14th.
The Co-Star measures only 4.2 x 4.2 x 1.6 inches and weighs in at 0.66 lbs. Physical ports include HDMI in, HDMI out, 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, and a single USB 2.0 port. The device also supports WiFi 802.11 n/g/b, Bluetooth, and comes with a universal touchpad remote with keyboard.
Google TV first debuted back in 2010, but the launch devices were priced too high and sales were abysmal. Few developers supported the platform because the install base was so small. Logitech lost so much money that they discontinued their Google TV products and their CEO stepped down.
I was one of the few who pre-ordered the Logitech Revue for $299, and I still have it hooked up to my TV. It still doesn’t have too many apps, but I use it every day for the improved channel guide and video streaming from Netflix and Amazon.
The device wasn’t worth the $299 asking price, but I enjoy the experience and I’d recommend a new Google TV box to a friend at the lower $99 price point.
We have yet to test out the VIZIO Co-Star, but I went ahead and pre-ordered one for the site to see how it compares to the Logitech Revue. The main difference in hardware is that the first-generation of Google TV’s used an Intel processor and the second-generation of devices have now adopted ARM-based processors.
VIZIO doesn’t say exactly what processor is inside the Co-Star, but we believe it is an Armada 1500, which includes a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU core (similar performance to ARM Cortex-A9) and a Vivante GC1000 GPU core. The Logitech Revue would lag pretty bad when using the Chrome browser, so hopefully performance has been improved.
One experience I’m excited to try out is the cloud-gaming service OnLive, which allows users to demo, watch and play hundreds of top-tier video games directly from the “cloud.” The wireless controller is sold separately for $49.99, but that’s not a bad price for turning your Google TV box into a game console. The controller also works with many Android smartphones and tablets, so your game time doesn’t have to be tied to the TV.
Check out the promo video below and head over to VIZIO’s product site for a detailed list of features. Let us know if you plan to pick one up, and come back next month for the full review.