What does it mean to have a smart TV? A lot of companies have been trying to redefine the TV space in their own way with their own ideas. Some have abandoned the software side and joined Google’s Android TV ecosystem. Vizio is also leaning to Google to get software support, but they’re doing it in a rather unique way. The rumors we previously reported seem to have been accurate.
The company’s new P-Series of televisions are impressive by themselves. They have higher contrast, fast Wi-Fi, and are overall great ways to watch movies and TV on a 4K UHD display. What makes it shine is the software. Vizio has decided not to include a normal smart TV interface and just use Google Cast. The casting technology Google created and popularized through the Chromecast has continued to grow, making its way to audio devices and now embedded in TV sets. It is now easier than ever to get media on the big screen.
This isn’t a significant development. Many consumers still are attracted to smart TV features like the ability to speak into your remote. The low hardware requirements associated with casting to seem to suggest the devices will be cheaper than competitors. (On their website, a 55-inch will cost $1300. That’s not too bad for a 4K screen.)
Google may work with more TV partners in the future to integrate casting, although there have not been any more rumors.
Google Cast currently supports up to 1080p video. While most people aren’t going to notice, it may be a bit annoying to those small number of users with a 4K TV and a 4K cast-supported device like the NVIDIA Shield. However, there are signs that this is going to change. Vizio is marketing itself as supporting 4K casting. It also will support Dolby’s HDR protocol for higher contrast movies.
As this is Google’s protocol, and their goal is ubiquity, I imagine an app update soon will enable 4K casting to those devices that can support it. Your Internet connection will also need to support streaming 4K content, although that’s a secondary problem.
Vizio also plans to implement Google Cast in their new speaker line.
Now this is great, but what if I don’t have a smartphone? Is this TV a waste? For that audience, Vizio is including a 6″ tablet running Android Lollipop that can act as a remote control. It also contains the preloaded app Vizio SmartCast. This app acts as a curator, giving users content that they can pass along through casting. It’s also a normal Android tablet, so you can use it for anything else in its downtime.
Vizio is taking a bet to their new TV line. Will consumers want all of the fancy features promised in a smart TV, or will they be content to sit on a couch and flick through movies on a tablet remote? The market is big enough for both to be true, and it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds in the next five to ten years.