Vizio Co-Star: Is Google TV finally going Prime-Time?

I've been no fan of Google TV, but it looks like Vizio Co-Star may finally deliver the goods.

Vizio Co-Star

I wanted to like Google TV. Who wouldn't want to be able to watch Internet video, normal television, and use their HDTV as the world's biggest Web browser. There was just one problem. The various Google TV implementations, such as the Logitech Revue, never worked well. It looks to me though like the soon to be released Vizio Co-Star may finally fulfill at least some of Google TV's promise.Of course, Google has its own Google TV competitor these days, the Nexus Q . As far as I'm concerned until proven otherwise, the Nexus Q is just an over-priced Apple TV clone. While you can use the Co-Star for Internet video streaming as well, it also comes with Google's Chrome Web browser. That means you'll be able to use your HDTV as a wireless monitor. I've always liked this idea and I've never been happy with how most systems do it. I hope, oh how I hope, that the Vizio Co-Star can do it right.Unfortunately, even if it does a great job of rendering Web-based Flash video, the Co-Star will still have one major problem: Major networks such as ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC still all block their Web-based content from Google TV devices. So much for watching the NBC London Olympics' Webcasts via Google TV.Related: Google's Nexus Q: A failed Apple TV clone No new Apple TV for you, AirPlay Mirroring insteadUnlike the Nexus Q you can play your own video on it if you have a DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) server. I confess I have no great fondness for DLNA servers but at least it gives you a way to get to your local video library. It will play H.264, MP4, and MKV videos. On the other hand, you will be able to play some games on it via the OnLive's cloud gaming service. The fly in this soup is that while Co-Star doesn't include the OnLive wireless game controller. That will run you another $50.What you get for your $100 from Vizio is a Apple TV or Roku sized box for your TV and a remote has a track-pad and various buttons on one side and and a full QWERTY keyboard on the other. It also includes one-click access buttons for Netflix, Amazon, and M-Go Internet video on demand services. It also supports the Google TV remote control Android app.To connect to your TV, it uses an HDMI connection. For your network you have the usual choice of 802.11b/g/n or 10/100Mbps Ethernet. It supports 720p, 1080i, and 1080p resolutions and, in theory, 3D. I'm still waiting to see someone pull off 3D Internet video successfully.  I hope it works. For $100 I'm willing to give it a try. But, I confess, I'm crossing my fingers. I've been burned too often by Google TV's promises to be too optimistic.              

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

SD-WAN buyers guide: Key questions to ask vendors (and yourself)