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VIZIO Co-Star Stream Player Preview

VIZIO Co-Star Stream Player

VIZIO Co-Star Stream Player


  • Product Name: Co-Star Stream Player
  • Manufacturer: VIZIO
  • Review Date: June 28, 2012 06:00
  • MSRP: $99.99
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!


Smart TV Platforms Google TV
App Store Google Play, Access to Thousands of apps
Web Browser Chrome Web Browser with Adobe Flash Player


WiFi Yes, 802.11n/g/b
Ethernet 10/100Mbps
Bluetooth® Yes
Network Multimedia PlayPoint app lets you access media on DLNA-enabled network devices


Resolution Supported 720p, 1080i, 1080p
3D Support Yes
Video Playback H.264, MP4, MKV
TV Compatibility Any high-definition TV with HDMI port


Music Playback MP3, AAC, WMA
Audio Features Up to 5.1 channels of surround sound pass-through

Size and Weight

Width 4.2"
Height 1.6"
Depth 4.2"
Weight 0.66 lbs


Universal Yes
Bluetooth Yes
Keyboard Yes
Touchpad Yes


HDMI In (Connects to Cable/Satellite Box) 1
HDMI Out (Connects to TV) 1
USB 1 (USB 2.0)

If you are like us, you pine over new features. The minute someone puts out something new, we want it. We may not run out and buy it immediately but we do start thinking about the ways we would use it (or "need" it) for when we are making our next purchase. Dual subwoofer outputs fall directly into this camp. When they first starting showing up in receivers, we starting thinking about how much we needed one. Never mind we only had a single sub at the time. We would have two... eventually.

Streaming features have been the "selling" point for many new devices over the last few years. Just about everything streams media these days. But what if you just upgraded your entire system? Most of the streaming features are built into other devices like Blu-ray players, displays, or receivers - admittedly high-dollar purchases. You could get a standalone box, but the chances are, your better-half will never use anything that requires the switching of inputs. In order for the entire family to enjoy your new purchase, it has to integrate seamlessly into your current system.

VIZIO has been (not so) quietly taking over the world of televisions. At first we were unsure of this new upstart but they have proven themselves over the years. When they announced that they were releasing a new streaming box we thought, "Ugh, not another one." Self-contained streaming boxes have been done and done well. What could VIZIO possibly offer to make us care?

Apparently, a lot.

The new Co-Star from VIZIO isn't your normal standalone streaming device. This small box sits between your satellite or cable box and your display. All you need is a satellite or cable box with an HDMI output. This goes into the Co-Star and a second HDMI connection goes to your display. With this "in-line" device, you don't need to worry about switching inputs or anything else. Just turn on your TV and main input as always and you are ready to go.

Of course, the VIZIO Co-Star gives you access to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, M-GO, YouTube, and iHeartRadio. On top of that, VIZIO has preconfigured the Co-Star for the OnLive Game Service. This allows users to demo, watch, and play hundreds of top-tier video games directly from "the cloud" via the Co-Star.  For an interface, VIZIO has tapped Google TV. This provides a full suite of apps, the Chrome Browser, and search functionality... everything except Hulu Plus. All this can be done Picture-in-Picture so that you don't have to interrupt what you are watching.


Configuration and setup is a snap with the Co-Star. If you have (the much preferred) Ethernet available in your home theater, you simply connect the cable. If not, the Co-Star has 802.11n/g/b WiFi capability. There is a USB 2.0 port for local streaming and DLNA certification for network playback of media files. H.264, MP4, MKV video codecs (720p, 1080i, 1080p resolutions supported) and MP3, AAC, WMA audio codecs are supported. The VIZIO Co-Star will also pass-through up to 5.1 surround sound.

If this was all the VIZIO Co-Star offered, we'd be impressed. But they didn't stop there. Like just about everything else on the market, they have a control app. But if you are into using a remote, the Co-Star has a cool one. The Co-Star two-sided remote features one side with traditional buttons and a few streaming service specific ones (Amazon, Netflix, M-GO). It also has a trackpad area making browsing as simple as on a laptop. But when you need to type something (like a specific URL or search parameter), flip the remote over and you have access to a full QWERTY keyboard. Now that is handy.

remote-front     remote-keyboard

What isn't handy is that the remote is Bluetooth. This means integrating it into a universal remote system is going to be a pain (if it can be done at all). Also, currently the Co-Star will only be sold directly from the VIZIO website, suggesting that they are not confident about its appeal to general consumers. To us, having the VIZIO Co-Star in the stores next to offerings from Roku and others makes sense. They could have completely locked up the competition by including Apple's AirPlay support, but we are guessing that either Apple wouldn't allow such a powerful competitor to their own Apple TV box or it would have increased the cost too much.


VIZIO seems to have really thought about what a customer might want/need with the Co-Star Stream Player. Placing itself between your cable/satellite box and display, you can access your favorite streaming service or just browse the web all while watching TV picture-in-picture. Their programmable Bluetooth remote includes a touchpad and a full QWERTY keyboard for easy browsing. Add to that all the apps available in the Google Play store, USB and DNLA streaming, and a ton of other features and VIZIO seems to have a winner on their hands. With a street price of $99.99 (introductory, with free shipping) and a release date of July, we can't wait to get our hands on one of these.

For more information please visit www.vizio.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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