Vizio was one of the first and perhaps largest manufacturer to take on the Yahoo Internet TV platform. And early iterations could be a bit painful. Fast forward a few years, never minding that brief flirtation with Google TV, and we find ourselves a visually rich, customizable, and robust “VIA+” experience based on Yahoo Connected TV 6.5 and bolstered by the Opera SDK for HTML 5 apps, like Netflix.
All television sizes and lines (E, M, P) in Vizio’s 2014 lineup will have an app-enabled SKU. Beyond the set, remaining Google TV-powered Costar inventory is working its way through the sales channel, with the newer, sleeker Costar LT ($80) acting as its Yahoo-powered replacement. HDMI pass-thru is usually associated with Google TV, but Vizio carries over this clever Input 1 approach to the LT. Also new for 2014 is a redesigned QWERTY remote — it’s still not the most svelte we’ve seen but a dramatic improvement over the prior model.
Like the Rokus of the world, there is indeed a screen of app icons. However, favorites can be pinned to a scrollable dock overlayed over video content, providing a less disruptive experience, and not dissimilar to the new LG webOS smart TV interface. Of course all the usual Internet apps are present. However, of note, Vizio is the exclusive TV launch platform for the new Lyve photo & video service.