The latest tech gadget that I’m excited about is the Co-Star from Vizio. It turns an HDTV into a smart TV with a one-time cost of $99, below many other streaming players on the market today.
What makes this device different is that it not only has a web browser, but it gives you the full web experience by supporting Flash and HTML 5. This is the only streaming player I’ve seen that supports Flash, and we all know there are hundreds of thousands of web pages that use that technology.
But in addition to the browser, the Co-Star has the features of Google TV. Vizio claims this means you get access to thousands of apps in the Google Play Store along with the already installed Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.
Vizio has partnered up with OnLive, a gaming site that lets you play with no discs or downloads. Personally I’m not a gamer, but for those that are, this is one of the most promoted aspects of Co-Star.
The remote is two-sided. One side has your normal volume, channel, input, etc. controls plus a trackpad. The other side has a QWERTY keyboard for entering text.
Vizio also has apps that turn smart phones and tablets into remotes.
Now for some of the tech details. The only output is HDMI, so if you don’t have an HDMI connection to your TV you’ll need to get some type of converter cable. I’ve got and HDMI to DVI cable that I’m hoping will do the trick. This is the one drawback I’ve found. There is also an HDMI input. The theory is that you run a connection from your cable/satellite box to the Co-Star and then from the Co-Star to your television. This allows you to continue to watch your favorite shows while interacting on the Internet, all on one screen. Maybe you’re watching “The Office” while in a “The Office” chat room.
This player supports 1080p Full HD as well as 3D. You’ll still need a 3D television to watch 3D video.
You can connect to the device with built-in wi-fi and LAN, Bluetooth, USB and DNLA-enabled phones, tablets and computers.
The Co-Star is taking preorders, but be aware that Vizio keeps running out of the product. There is an estimated shipping date of August 14 and will hit stores soon after that.
So not only is this the most complete streaming player I’ve found, but it’s one of the least expensive. Google TV was not ready for prime time when it debuted. But with players like this and an upgrade to the Google TV system, it may now be ready to compete with other systems like Apple TV. Only time will tell.
When I get mine I’ll let you know how well it actually works.Warren Mills is the webmaster for WTHR-TV. He has been building and working on web sites since the mid-1990s.