Vizio's bigger, better tablet-remote hybrid

Vizio, a manufacturer primarily known for its televisions, teases the design for a 10-inch Android tablet with an integrated IR remote control.

Photo of the Vizio VTAB3010 Android tablet.
The Vizio VTAB 3010 Android tablet includes an integrated IR blaster for controlling your TV. Vizio

LAS VEGAS--Vizio is not a company that wants to be pigeonholed.

Best known for its TVs, the company threw us all a curveball at last year's Consumer Electronics Show when it showed off an Android tablet and Android phone , both of which doubled as universal remotes.

For CES 2012, Vizio's surprise announcement was a line of laptop computers . But the manufacturer is also quietly teasing its second Android tablet, the VTAB 3010 (also known as the M Series).

Unlike its first foray, the VTAB 1008, this new model has an iPad-like 10-inch screen instead of an 8-inch display. Vizio's promo image also indicates that the tablet will include cameras on both the front and back, and have ports for Micro-USB and Micro-HDMI.

For the most part, though, the tablet seems to share many of the better features of last year's model. You get the full suite of Google Mobile apps, including Android Market. There's a three-speaker array around the edges of the tablet so sound won't be blocked by your hands. Best of all, an IR blaster at the top edge allows the tablet to pull double duty as a universal remote control.

Now, we weren't completely head over heels about Vizio's first tablet. The screen on last year's model had some dim viewing angles, the design was a bit bulky, and partnerships with Netflix and Hulu were slower to arrive than we had hoped. Hopefully the work Vizio has invested in its software and its app partnerships will allow it to hit the ground running with this new model, and with any luck, the company picked a better panel to use for its display.

Still no word on pricing or availability. Knowing Vizio, though, this thing is probably coming soon to a Costco or Sam's Club near you, and priced low enough to make it an impulse buy.

 

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