While Vizio was one of a number of TV makers showing off networked TVs at CES in January, the company was mum on details about them when it announced its 2009 lineup a couple of weeks ago. Now, the company, which recently became the top TV seller in the U.S., has finally come clean with some more information about its VIA Connected HDTV sets.
Three sets will be available toward the end of the year, all part of the company's top-of-the-line XVT line, including two LCDs with LED backlighting and 240Hz refresh rates. Those models include the 55-inch VF552XVT, which will be shipping in December for $2,199.99, and the 47-inch SV472XVT ($1,699.99), due in October. Rounding out the VIA line is the 42-inch SV422XVT, which lacks LED backlighting and only has 120Hz refresh rates, but will cost just $1,199.99 when it hits the market in November.
Vizio has the good sense to include both an Ethernet jack as well as 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter in the VIA sets, making it easier for more consumers to connect their TV to the Internet. VIA's online capabilities are powered by Yahoo's Widget Engine, and Vizio has an impressive lineup of services ready at launch. Some, like Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr widgets, are pretty basic, but the audio and video apps are the real news: for music, there's Pandora, Radiotime, and Rhapsody, and for video you have your choice of Amazon Video On Demand, Blockbuster On Demand, Netflix, and Vudu. Showtime is also preparing a widget, though it's limited to samples episodes of its original programming, trailers, and extras.
Vizio has probably amassed the best roster of widgets among the TV makers who are starting to offer networked TVs. The big questions that remain are: 1) Will people want to use widgets on their sets, and 2) Are they willing to pay a bit more for the privilege? Let us know your thoughts on those questions in our TalkBack section.