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Vizio gives its SmartCast phone app a more useful home screen

You can now launch Chromecast apps like Netflix instantly.

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
01.10.17 in AV
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Rather than using proprietary apps and tuners, Vizio's E-, P- and M-series smart 4K TVs rely on "Chromecast built-in" (formerly Google Cast). That means you're essentially running your TV from a smartphone (or included 6-inch tablet), which makes it easy for Vizio to do quick improvements. As such, the company just updated its SmartCast app by adding a streamlined new home page with larger buttons and simplified navigation. You can also access more TV shows and movies straight from main screen, rather than needing to dive into menus.

Vizio added a "Cast Apps" section, too, letting you launch Netflix, Hulu, Crackle and other Chromecast apps more quickly from your device. If you haven't installed, say, Hulu yet, choosing it in SmartCast now sends you straight to iTunes or Google Play, depending on your device. There's also "featured" section on the home screen with content recommendations, and for newbies, a curated "discover" area that shows top choices for subscription and regular content.

As before, you can cast to a Vizio TV from any Chromecast-enabled device, even if you don't use its app. That applies to both streaming video and music, assuming you own one of Vizio's SmartCast soundbars, too. The TVs are well-priced at $500 for a 50-inch 4K E-series version, or $1,000 for a 4K, 50-inch P-series. If Roku is more your thing than Chromecast, you may want to consider a TCL Roku model -- with built-in Dolby Vision, the P-series in that brand, coming later this year, also runs $500.

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