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Vizio Co-Star Stream Player

Vizio Co-Star Stream Player

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70 Engadget Score
A dependable product that doesn't really stand out from the competition.
70

A dependable product that doesn't really stand out from the competition.

How we score

The Engadget Score is a unique ranking of products based on extensive independent research and analysis by our expert editorial and research teams. The Global Score is arrived at only after curating hundreds, sometimes thousands of weighted data points (such as critic and user reviews).

Engadget Review

At $99, the Co-Star is the least expensive way to get the Google TV experience, but the price doesn't come without trade-offs.

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70 Engadget Score
A dependable product that doesn't really stand out from the competition.
70

A dependable product that doesn't really stand out from the competition.

How we score

The Engadget Score is a unique ranking of products based on extensive independent research and analysis by our expert editorial and research teams. The Global Score is arrived at only after curating hundreds, sometimes thousands of weighted data points (such as critic and user reviews).

Scores

Engadget

70
 

User Reviews

100
rohiers2
A gadget unicorn - Engadget
90
Fred929
After you get used to using it (like any piece of tech) you will want one for...read more
100
tgarlanger
A gadget unicorn - Engadget
Write a Review

Score Breakdown

 
66
Average user Score
 
100
rohiers2
05.29.14
A gadget unicorn - Engadget
 
90
Fred929
07.21.13
After you get used to using it (like any piece of tech) you will want one for every television in your home.
 
100
tgarlanger
03.22.13
A gadget unicorn - Engadget
 
70
dereklanham
03.12.13
A dependable product that doesn't really stand out from the competition. - Engadget
 
70
robertpatterson
02.23.13
A dependable product that doesn't really stand out from the competition. - Engadget
 
10
goelzdog
01.02.13
Well here it is...im writing this from my soon to be returned co star. The keyboard is a great thing to have on the back of a remote, however sometimes it simply decides to not type a letter even when you know you pushed it, this seems to happen only on certain sites. The scratchpad is garbage, good luck trying to get the cursor in the exact right spot, and if you do, then what??? there is no left or right button, you must tap, and keep tapping....sometimes 8 or 9 times, again some sites seem to be more sensitive, but watch out, cause its reacts so slow that a double tap may tap something on a screen you dontt even know is coming. Notice how i misspelled don't (as there is no right button, you cant right click to find tthe right spelling). there is also no foward button, it can be accessed, but not like you have a taskbar, its a bit of button pushing and struggling with the scratchpad. you caant have two pages open at the same time, nor can yo have a page and another app, so dont expect to check your email then go back to the previous page easily.... which brings me to popups...as the OS doesnt give you a close button, you must hit the back button, then reload chrome and hope you dont get that same popup. These are the minor issues, some more bothersome problems include a force shutdown of google chrome, on average twice per hour of use, and an occasional complete system shutdown. The thing I personally hate the most is while trying to navigate a webpage the scroll feature does nothing, the page up/dn works sometimes if your lucky enough to tap on the corrrect spot aand it responds....in short the remote is the worst mouse/scratchpad ive ever used, and the keyboard is close behind. And even though there is a buil in youtube app, I cant seem to get any video, only audio....and yes, Ive updated the software, many times.The good parts, well I have found few....It will search for TV programs and movies from your tv subscriber and even chang the channel on yourr cable box if you select it. It also does PIP, so you can trytto surf the web during commercials, but in my experience, it just frustrates me for about enough time for the commercials to be over {not sure if that sux more than the commercials).My suggestion is to avoid this product, I bought a similar device with an "air mouse" remote from ebay for much less money with over twich as much processor, ram, and rom. As a technology buff and a man who is no stranger to electronics, and a satisfied Vizio customer in the past, I stand by my 1 out of 10 rating, any review aove 5 on this product was clearly from somebody who didnt have to pay for it ( funny how the customer reviews are lower than the critics).OH, by the way, its "universal" remote hardly even ontrolls anything on my new Vizio razor LED TV.....cmon, really, Vizio???.....really, only power nd volume!
 
80
phxtravis
12.07.12
For the price it is an amazing device, but it does suffer from some first year jitters. Before the most recent update the "Live TV" would crash from time to time and require me to power cycle the box. This appears to be resolved after the patch, but now when I first start up the unit it will take me to the Play market instead of "Live TV" like normal... Overall for the price it is perfect for me, I can stream movies via DLNA(Plex and PS3 Media server), and stream from Netflix, which is all I really use it for. The integrated search is useful from time to time, but the key board is so poor that I try to avoid using it.
 
80
ariel12g
10.12.12
There's a lot to like about this in spite of a few flaws. - Engadget
 
10
ackerrj
09.23.12
This product takes a good idea, and implements it poorly.The general feel of the product is cheap. The quality is low, and so is the user experience.I have had hours of frustration with this device, as I like the concept and would really like it to work. However, it seems like an alpha or beta product released to production too early.Here are some of my experiences:1. Received the first unit. Plugged it in to the HD tv via HDMI, and to the DirectTV receiver via same. Plugged in the power supply. Unit gives me off white screen, which alternates with black screen.2. Vizio support says, unplug power supply from the Costar and power from DTV receiver, wait two minutes and plug them back in. About 1/3 of the time this results in the Visio logo appearing, and walks you through the setup. The other two thirds of the time, the white and black screens appear, and you can go no further. This by the way, happens any time you power off (unplug) the device and power it back on.3. After working through the Q & A of the setup, the product downloads a firm ware update... the first unit had a weak WiFi receiver and it took 5 - 6 times to complete the update, approx 30 - 45 minutes per attempt.4. After the update, the product was flakey. Clicking on the results of Google searches did not resolve to a website.5. Customer support sent me a new product, I returned the first one.6. With the new unit same issues re items 1 and 2 above. The units wi fi receiver was better, and updated the firm ware on the first attempt. However, after the update it took many more attempts to get past the black and white screens described in 2 above.Eventually Netflix was setup and working. Watched a 30 minute episode of Doc Martin. Twice the unit was unable to keep up with the stream and paused for a reload, then continued. The last time (3rd) the unit crashed back to the black and white screens described in 2 above. I was unable to get past them.This unit will be returned for refund.My conclusion: This product is not ready for prime time... at least, not in my house.A side note: I am not an Apple fan boy after this latest lawsuit re Samsung, but I have lots of their products... and regardless of what you may think about them, the products mostly work.That can not be said re my experience with this product.Here is an update 9/23/12:I was eventually able to get the product working somewhat acceptably by swapping the ends of the hdmi cables, and playing with unplugging, turning off, re plugging as described above.I could watch Netflix and Youtube most of the time.I could get to the internet and check emails, browse, etc, but still much more painful that using a computer.I have never been able to download a new app (not pre loaded on the device) from the Play store. For example, Pandora. App says it is "installing" but never installs.This AM, YouTube quit, after some minutes of blank screen, gave me the option to force quit, then was able to restart.Vizio support suggested as a fix for the play store download problem was to completely reset the device and start again from scratch (as this is the way to download the latest patch).There ought to be some way to update the system software without requiring you to go completely through setup again.I have previously wasted two days fussing with this thing setting up, etc (see above) and have lost patience with it. Vizio is sending me a return label for it. My conclusion is that this device was shipped without sufficient consumer testing, and that it essentially is a Beta device... fine for those who want that kind of thing, not for one that wants a good reliable utility. I would return any compter or other device that is this unreliable and painful... and while I believe in cutting new technology some slack, this thing went beyond what IMHO is acceptable behavior.I generally like Google products over apple, but in this case, not so much.One good thing: Vizio support appears to be US based and most of their folks want to be helpful. The knowledge of how to fix issues varies greatly among support reps. Hopefully this product will improve over time.
 
80
Pusta
08.28.12
The HardwareIn the box you’ll find the Co-Star, a power adapter, the remote, and 2 AA batteries, so stock up on HDMI cables (may I suggestion Monoprice.com). For $99, the Vizio Co-Star the build quality feels very solid. For comparison purposes, the Co-Star is slightly larger and three times the weight of the Roku 2 XS, the former coming in at 4.2” x 4.2” at 10 ounces, and the later at 3.3” x 3.3” at 3 ounces. On the back of the Co-Star you’ll find two HDMI Ports, one for input from a cable or satellite box, and one for output to your TV/Receiver, a 10/100mbps Ethernet port, a USB port and power. There’s also WiFi and Bluetooth built into the Co-Star, so no need for any adapters here. I’ve read some other reports that the Co-Star suffers from weak WiFi reception, and while I did notice that the Co-Star was picking up a slightly lower signal than other components, it did not impact streaming. I also noticed the Co-Star does get hot to the touch when in use, something to keep in mind if sticking in an enclosed cabinet. The lack of any sort of status light, while annoying at times since the Co-Star must be on to watch TV, and fanless operation means the Co-Star will be an non-intrusive addition to your home theater setup.The Co-Star remote is a dual sided universal remote with Bluetooth and IR/IR Blaster technology built in. The front side includes the normal array of buttons you would expect from a media remote, joined with a trackpad for on-screen cursor control. The back side features a full QWERTY keyboard with a directional pad and dedicated gaming buttons (A,B,X,Y). Programming the remote is done during the setup of the Co-Star by searching for manufacturer names and model numbers. The process was very smooth, and although it did not have my 2011 Onkyo Receiver native in it’s database, it offered to try an array of 39 different codes until one worked. Luckily it was code number 3. At the end of setup, the remote was able to control my Vizio TV, DirecTV HR-34 DVR, and my Onkyo TX-NR701 receiver. The Co-Star remote had all of the DirecTV native buttons, including the Red, Green, Orange, Blue option buttons, and could replace the DirecTV remote entirely. The backside keyboard was very responsive, and the keys are spaced apart just enough where I haven’t noticed a lot of mistypings.I did find a few annoyances with the remote. First off, all of the functionality it offers comes at a trade-off of size, the remote is 6.7” x 2.3 “ and just over 1” thick, so if you’re used to the curves or thinness of a Harmony remote, you’ll be a little disappointed here. You can substitute a universal remote to control the Co-Star, but you’ll give up the Touchpad and full keyboard, which is useful when browsing the web. The remote also has dedicated buttons for Amazon, NetFlix, and a service called M-Go, which when you launch the app informs you to sign up for a future beta at their web site. It would have been nice to make these buttons programmable, especially since one is for a non-existent service at this point. The number buttons on the front of the remote are also quite small, requiring you to look at the remote to change channels. You also have to push down quite hard for the buttons on the remote to register the selection. Also, while the Co-Star remote can be programmed to control your TV, cable or satellite box and receiver, it only has power buttons for the TV and Co-Star itself. Meaning, I still find myself reaching for my Harmony remote to turn all my components on, then switching to the Co-Star remote to watch TV. Not an elegant setup, and my wife’s eyes rolled more than once when I explained this to her. (The volume buttons on the Co-Star remote are programmed to your TV or receiver depending on what you select in setup).The SoftwareThe Co-Star comes loaded with Google TV 3.2, with some Vizio specific enhancements like remote control setup and configuration and overscan compensation. A dedicated Vizio button on the remote slides the App Tray into view from the left, which takes up about 1/4 of the screen, and overlays any video content currently displayed. The top of the App Tray lists out your favorite apps (based upon what you specifically select, not how often you use) There are a number of apps installed by default, which are:Amazon Instant VideoBookmarksClockDownloadsFavoritesGoogle ChromeGoogle Play StoreM-GONetflixOnLivePhotosPlayPointSearchSettingsSpotlightTVTV & Movies – makes suggestions for programming based upon your interestsUser ManagementWidgetsYouTubeI think it’s important to note that the Amazon Instant Video app is more of a bookmark to the Amazon web site. You browse the full web site to find a video to stream or rent, and then it plays on the Co-Star. I blame this more on the lack of an official Amazon app for Android than on Vizio, and their work around is better than no Amazon functionality at all. Much like a carrier branded Android phone, when I tried to delete the built in apps, specifically OnLive, I was greeted with a message informing me I cannot delete that. An option to at least hide unused apps would be nice to clean up the App Tray, deleting them would be even better. You’ll find excellent codec support out of the box, Vizio says the Co-Star supports h.264, MP4 and MKV on the video side, and MP3, AAC and WMA on the audio side.When the Co-Star arrived at my house, there were some gaping functionality holes in the software. Out of the box after initial setup, the interface was had very noticeable lag, and any selection in the software was met with a “Please Wait” banner. Dolby Digital was also not supported out of the box, which was a show stopper for me, and I actually disconnected the Co-Star from my satellite receiver because of this. Vizio has since released two firmware updates, and software wise it’s an entirely different Co-Star. The first firmware dated August 10 seems to have corrected the interface lag issues, although I still see the occasional “Please Wait” banner, especially when I try out Picture in Picture. The second update, dated August 23rd has enabled Dolby Digital output, I’ve tested both live TV and videos through Plex and Netflix and am happy to report that Dolby Digital is now working properly. The Google TV apps in the Play Store are a little sparse at this point, but some big names like IMDB, ES File Explorer, The Weather Channel and Accuweather and Evernote are already present. One glaring omission so far is Hulu Plus, but supposedly that’s in the works. I did however, find a battery management app in the Play Store, which I’m sure will be really useful here.Final ThoughtsMy opinion of the Vizio Co-Star changed dramatically from the day I received it to the second firmware update. The lag in the interface and lack of Dolby Digital had me packing up the device for a return. Vizio promised quick fixes, and they delivered. The Co-Star offers great codec support, access to the Google Play Store, and integrates almost seamlessly into your existing television flow. The remote leaves a lot to be desired, but if you can deal with those annoyances or use a universal remote a majority of the time, the Co-Star is well worth the $99 price tag.