The Vizio 8" Tablet is one of the more interesting models on the market. Rather than attempting to copy or combat the iPad 2 either in form or function, it wants to be your affordable coffee table companion. It runs Android OS 2.3.3 Gingerbread with a slightly customized UI that's very newby-friendly. Vizio sees the tablet as something folks will see at Walmart and Costco, and say "hey, this isn't terribly expensive and it's easy to use too". You early adopter techie types aren't the target audience for the Vizio Tablet, but even you might find value in it's mid-sized portability and full Android capabilities. It runs the Android Market and all the core Google apps since the device is blessed by Google.
Gingerbread is a smart choice for the Vizio since it allows for more manufacturer customization and tweaking (including video playback tweaks), and at 8", it doesn't beg for a full tablet OS. You also have a much larger selection of Android Market apps with Gingerbread. That said, Vizio told us that Honeycomb is in the works. The 8" size is a perfect tweener: it's big enough to watch video without feeling cramped as we do with 7" tablets, but it's much more portable that 10.1" Honeycomb tablets. At $285 to $298, it's also a lot cheaper. It has the same resolution as the iPad 2 and HP TouchPad: 1024 x 768.
Despite the low price, Vizio adds some nice touchs like 3 speakers that shift output to match orientation, and backlit capacitive buttons that move with orientation. There's HDCP for playing DRM movies and TV shows out through the micro HDMI port and an excellent IR Blaster remote with an easy to use app that knows about 95% of the world's home theatre and AV gear.
The Vizio Tablet has Adobe Flash 10.1 for Flash video playback, and it runs on a single core 1GHz Marvell Armada CPU. It performs surprisingly well, though we noted some launcher slowdowns that Vizio said they'll be addressing in a firmware update. The tablet has 512 megs of RAM and 2 gigs of available internal storage plus a microSD card slot that's compatible with cards up to 32 gigs. It does particularly well with HD video playback of locally stored MPEG4 content and streaming content too (check it out in our video review). Netflix appeared in the Market for this device (though it's not on the supported list), and we downloaded it. The app ran but threw and error code after starting a stream). We suspect this bodes well, and Netflix might be coming (Vizio, a very large TV manufacturer certainly has relationships with all sorts of video service providers).
Our video review is long because the tablet actually works so well for quite a few things; we test out ebook reader apps (B&N Nook is pre-loaded) since the 4:3 aspect ratio is perfect for books, test HD video playback, HDMI output, explore the AV multi-room remote and compare it with several other tablets.
Here's our Vizio 8" Tablet video review, full review to follow next week.