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Vizio Gets Ready to Launch First TVs, Speakers with Google Cast (Exclusive)

Vizio is following through on its plans to release a new TV set that is based on Google Cast, the same technology that also powers Google’s popular Chromecast streaming stick. In addition, Vizio also is getting ready to release several Google Cast-enabled soundbars and loudspeakers.

Variety first exclusively reported about Google’s partnership with Vizio last month. Vizio officially announced its new TV sets and loudspeakers a day after Variety first published this report.

Vizio’s new SmartCast TVs set will allow users to control streaming services and live TV straight from their phone, without the need to use a traditional remote control, or navigate through smart TV apps on the TV set itself. The TV manufacturer released an Android app on Google Play on Monday that aims to be a companion to the TV set, both offering basic functionality like volume control as well as an advanced movie and TV show guide.

Vizio SmartCast, as the app is being called, integrates directly with some third-party services to make it easier to cast media to the TV set. Launch partners include the Walmart-owned video service Vudu, as well as radio streaming service Vadio, and customers can link the app to their pay TV service to access network programming as well. Content from Hulu and Netflix, however, seems to be absent.

Vizio officially launched SmartCast with its P-Series of TV sets Tuesday. Customers who buy a P-Series TV will also get a 6-inch Android tablet that is running the SmartCast app as a way to get started with casting. However, at least some stores, including Home Depot, also list models from Vizio’s E-Series as Smartcast-capable, suggesting that the company may be moving more broadly towards Google Cast.

Vizio has in the past used Yahoo’s Internet Apps as its smart TV operating system, and more recently transitioned to Opera’s smart TV platform. But all of these platforms have struggled with lagging uptake, with many consumers instead opting to connect a streaming device like Roku, Apple TV or Chromecast to their TV set.

The fact that a TV manufacturer like Vizio would embrace Google Cast is also an important indicator for the  future direction of Google’s living room strategy. In the past the company has pushed TV makers to use its Android TV platform, and reserved Google Cast for Chromecast. Vizio’s new TVs suggest that this may be changing, and that Cast may be key to Google’s future in the living room.

Update: 3/22: This post was updated throughout after Vizio officially announced the products in question.




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