Vizio to launch smartphone, tablet

Company best-known for flat-screen TVs and Blu-ray players is expected to unveil its new Android-powered products in advance of the Consumer Electronics Show this week.

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Flat-screen TV maker Vizio is making the jump into the smartphone and tablet computer markets, tapping Google to take on the likes of Apple and Research In Motion.

The company, which teased the move in an ad that ran before the Rose Bowl game yesterday (see below), is expected to reveal its wireless products tomorrow during a news conference before the Consumer Electronics Show kicks off in Las Vegas later this week, according to reports by Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal.

Vizio's Via Phone will have a 4-inch screen and front- and rear-facing cameras, while the Via Tablet will sport an 8-inch high-resolution screen, Wi-Fi, and a front-facing camera, according to the reports. Both will reportedly be powered by Google's Android operating system and sold through Wal-Mart and Costco stores.

Vizio representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Irvine, Calif.-based company, which is best-known for its low-cost TVs and Blu-ray players, will face tough competition from Apple's iPhone and iPad and RIM's BlackBerrys and upcoming PlayBook tablet.

Market research firm iSuppli expects tablet sales to more than triple from the 18 million units in 2010 to 61 million in 2011, but the Android market is crowded. Some 15 suppliers--including Acer, Dell, Cisco Systems, and Samsung--are expected to be selling Android-based tablets by mid-2011, according to industry tracker IMS Research.