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Vizio announces Google TVs, Blu-ray players

Vizio's new VIA Plus system will incorporate Google TV on TVs and Blu-ray players.

Vizio's VIA Plus platform with Google TV will play nice with Android tablets and phones. Vizio

Vizio is the second TV maker, after Sony, to officially announce a television or Blu-ray player with Google TV.

The company is marketing the Google TV feature as part of its VIA (Vizio Internet Apps) Plus platform, an improved version of the Vizio Interactive Apps suite found on current models like our 2010 Editors' Choice XVT3SV series and the new XVT3D650SV.

Vizio's announcement today touted the availability of VIA Plus on TVs and Blu-ray players, in addition to its newly announced smartphones and tablets. According to the company, the platform "combines the convenience of entertainment on demand with seamless experience from the big screen to handheld devices."

Specific capabilities mentioned in the release include being able to begin watching a show on one device and continue on another without interruption, as well as improved ability to search, organize and access apps. Vizio promises a demonstration of the platform at the upcoming CES show in Las Vegas.

The TVs will feature a "premium" Bluetooth QWERTY universal remote with touch pad, dual-band 802.11n built-in Wi-Fi and onscreen navigation including search and Web browser.

Other specifics, including the names, prices and release dates of TVs and Blu-ray players with VIA Plus/Google TV, were not announced.

Editors' take: I expect plenty of other non-Sony TV makers, including Samsung, LG, and Toshiba, to incorporate Google TV in 2011, so timing will be important for Vizio. My guess is that VIA Plus TVs won't ship until fall 2011 (plenty of time, I assume, for Google's reported delay request). Given the deservedly tepid reception of initial Google TV products from Sony and Logitech, more time in the oven will only help Vizio and other TV makers get the software right. That said, I did like the original VIA and it will be interesting to see what kind of customizations the new Vizio/Google interface will allow. I'm also curious to see how Vizio integrates cable box control.