If you are in the market for a cheap Google TV box, you now have two choices. The Hisense Pulse just went on sale for $99, joining the Vizio Co-Star that also retails for $99. Both boxes feature similar specs and functionality, so it’s not immediately clear which is the better buy.
Details are limited, but it appears the Hisense Pulse has a remote with a microphone that should eventually work with the new Google TV voice actions. The Vizio Co-Star remote does not have a microphone, but this functionality should be available on the official Google TV remote app for Android (if Google ever updates it).
I ordered the Vizio Co-Star a couple months ago, and I’m happy with my purchase so far. Vizio had some issues with shipping and I somehow got a used unit (with someone else’s Google account already signed in), but the device has performed as I expected. It’s great for watching movies from Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, or Google Play and the Chrome Browser with Flash Player is a nice addition.
Hisense has been around for awhile, but I have never purchased any of their products. Vizio has already delivered three software updates to my Co-Star, so hopefully Hisense will provide the same level of support for the Pulse.
Google TV recently got access to the new Google Play store, but the app support is mostly disappointing. There are a handful of useful apps (like Plex), but most developers have yet to really embrace the platform. Google has also kind of ignored the platform, choosing to focus on the failed Nexus Q, but I have a feeling these $99 devices will start to attract more users (and more apps).
If you are looking for a last minute gift for an Android lover, I think either of these $99 boxes would be a good choice. Both devices are available on Amazon Prime (free shipping) and they should arrive in time for Christmas if you order now.