Predictably, as the leader in North American LCD sales, Vizio's booth was absolutely filled with LCD HDTVs, including the slew of displays announced this week during CES. We got some hands-on time with the OnLive implementation Vizio's bringing to its VIA Plus (read: Google TV) as well as the Versus single screen head-to-head gaming setup -- which you can check out on Joystiq -- a quick look at new soundbars with wireless subwoofers, new headphones and even an interesting Android-powered clock radio with integrated iPod dock, but our biggest question was if the new Theater 3D tech based on LG's FPR passive 3D screens was ready for prime time. Check out a few more pics in the gallery and our impressions after the break.
We haven't sampled all the 3D available at CES yet, but since Vizio's demo material consisted mostly of movie trailers it was a bit easier to compare to what we'd watch at home than what we saw in the LG booth. On the one hand, we quickly put to rest questions of dimness on 2D content or problems with viewing angles. While you can induce some crosstalk by viewing from above or below the display, it was surprisingly limited and not nearly the fall off what you'd see from a DLP for example.
As far as the actual picture quality, while we're still not entirely sure the explanation that since 1080p FPR displays are sending 540 lines to each eye, that equals Full HD holds water, the PQ on 3D was certainly good enough for most people to be satisfied at home. A scene from a movie with ocean waves in the background revealed some slight artifacting and loss of detail that we thought might not be as noticeable on an active shutter setup, but the combo of cheap glasses, easy in-store demonstration and Vizio's proven track record in targeting mass market pricing should have the competition on their toes. We could easily see this going in an LCD/plasma direction, while higher resolution has its advantages in picture quality (at least until 4K2K FPR displays arrive) these passive options have strengths that will appeal to most consumers, plus potential partners like Nike or Calvin Klein and a presentation that appeals to the big box stores of the world.
We didn't get to take pictures of the Google TV powered VIA Plus displays. but did confirm they're running a skin consistent with the tablet and phone we've seen. Also on site but not ready for prime time were the next generation of VIA remotes, while the one intended for Google TV hardware had a similar chunky slider QWERTY style like the current ones, it also integrated a slew of new buttons and small touchpad on the front, while other possible options included a slimmer remote with a keypad on the back like Boxee's remote. The planned Vizio On Demand service (developed wih an as-yet unrevealed partner) will be more than just yet another way to purchase overpriced VOD, since it will be able to provide movies natively scanned and formatted (no stretching needed here) for those ultrawidescreen displays as well as plenty of 3D video.
Of course, that's not all we saw while we were there, as Vizio continues to expand its speaker lineup with more soundbars and wireless subwoofers, plus new lineups of ear buds and headphones. What caught our eye however, was a small clock radio/iPod dock setup that had a screen similar to the company's portable TV and running Android. Don't expect any kind of Market access or anything, but it did feature a number of custom apps, and included streaming not only from the attached iPhone, but a NAS on the same network by DLNA. There were still a few glitches to smooth out, but here's a quick video of the box at work.