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. There's no visual 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.
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.
Though 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. Once you get into the setup menu, the menu organization becomes a little more convoluted, but the VBR200W gets the basics right.
Vizio includes Netflix's latest interface that lets you view some movies not in your instant queue, in categories like "Movies You'll Love" and "New Arrivals." If you're looking for some of the other apps, such as Facebook and Twitter, for the player, those are actually Vudu apps and are located in that menu. We were a little skeptical about the apps running off the Vudu platform, but they were very fast and responsive. 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.
|Key Blu-ray features|
|3D Blu-ray||No||Onboard memory||No|
Considering the VBR200W's price, its feature set is solid. It's one of the only two sub-$200 Blu-ray players we've seen with built-in Wi-Fi, with the other being the Insignia NS-WBRDVD. It doesn't have onboard memory or 3D Blu-ray support, but it's hard to complain about its lack of those features when more-expensive units like the $225 LG BD570 don't include them either.
|Streaming media features|
The VBR200W's selection of streaming-media services covers all the most important bases: subscription-based movies with Netflix, pay-per-view movies with Vudu, and free streaming audio with Pandora. Its competitors, such as the LG BD570 and Samsung BD-C6500, certainly have more services, but there are diminishing returns after the basics are covered, and we found the VBR200W's selection perfectly adequate.
The rest of the Vizio's apps are inside the Vudu menu and use Vudu's app platform. These apps include weather, Flicker, Picasa, and more. We were a little skeptical of this arrangement at first, but we found that the apps worked quickly and well, even if they are a little hidden in the menu. It's worth noting that the company's apps-equipped TVs, on the other hand, have a different, custom apps platform with a wider selection, albeit no Vudu apps.
We were disappointed to find that Vizio didn't include DLNA compatibility or any other PC streaming functionality on the VBR200W. The LG BD570 and Samsung BD-C6500 are DLNA-compliant out-of-the-box and the Sony BDP-S570 is getting a firmware update for DLNA in the summer. Yes, the VBR200W can read digital media files off a connected USB memory drive, but network streaming is a nice convenience. We also didn't have any luck playing back a DivX file off a USB drive; the VBR200W said "file type unsupported."
|Audio decoding capabilities|
|Dolby TrueHD||Yes||DTS-HD Master Audio||Yes|
|Dolby Digital Plus||Yes||DTS-HD HR||Yes|
|Bit stream output||Yes||SACD/DVD-Audio||No|
Like nearly every Blu-ray player available, the VBR200W offers onboard decoding for both high-resolution Dolby and DTS formats. If you're looking to play back SACDs and DVD-Audio discs, you'll need to look to Oppo's competing players; Sony's competing BDP-S570 also offers SACD playback.
|HDMI version||HDMI 1.3||Stereo analog||Yes|
|Component video||Yes||Multichannel analog||No|