The Vizio VBR200W Blu-ray player is rough around the edges and a little slow, but you do get a lot of bang for your buck.
Vizio is a company best known for offering bargain-price HDTVs that perform better than you'd expect, so we weren't surprised to find that the company's VBR200W Blu-ray player fits the same mold. It's one of the cheapest players ($190 street price) we've seen that has built-in Wi-Fi, which makes it much easier to access its suite of streaming media apps, which includes Netflix, Vudu, and Pandora.
However, it appears that Vizio made some sacrifices to hit the lower price point. The VBR200W has the slowest disc-loading speeds of any standalone player we've tested this year, and its Wi-Fi performance is significantly worse. It lacks the polish of some competing players, and has occasional operational hiccups and a loud disc drive.
Even though the VBR200W has its flaws, we feel that its perks will make up for them, especially for bargain-minded buyers.
Powered off, the VBR200W has an extremely minimalist design with a very glossy black finish, no front panel buttons, a bulging silver disc tray, and orange Vizio logo in the center. Vizio provides no indication of how to operate the player until you press the power button on the remote. Then, the VBR200W's touch-sensitive buttons light up, including playback controls on the far right. The buttons mostly worked well, but we did have to "double touch" a few times when our presses weren't picked up. Also, Vizio didn't include a USB port on the player's front panel, so you'll have to reach around to its back to plug in a USB flash drive. The player is thicker than many of the competing models we've tested, coming in at 2.4 inches high compared with the Sony BDP-S570's 1.8-inch height. The VBR200W's design walks that fine line between slick and a little cheap; however, ultimately our impression came down on the cheap side, mostly because of the chunky disc tray.
While we are lukewarm about the VBR200W's exterior styling, we like its main user interface. The interface graphics are relatively attractive and the straightforward icon-driven approach makes it easy to pick your media type.
On the VBR200W, Vizio also includes a basic interface for navigating music on an attached USB drive. It certainly lacks the eye candy of more advanced interfaces like Apple TV or even the interface on the LG BD590, but it works for listening to some tunes in a pinch.
Vizio carried the cheap aesthetic over to the remote control. It's unusually large and covered in glossy plastic that gets covered in fingerprints in a hurry. Its button layout is decent, although the huge play/pause button is probably larger than it needs to be. The remote wasn't quite as responsive as we'd like in the main menus; we're not sure if it was the menus or the remote, but the VBR200W couldn't keep up with rapid button presses. Overall, it's a substandard clicker, but as always you can swap it out for a quality universal remote.