PROS / Vizio Co-Star offers high resolution and 3D play back, along with several connections like HDMI in and out, USB and Ethernet.
CONS / Some major services, like HBO Go, MLB.TV and Spotify, are blocked.
VERDICT / Despite some limitations, Vizio Co-Star still offers a wealth of internet options, but needs an overhaul or two before it competes with the best media streamers in terms of performance.
Vizio Co-Star is one of the few home media servers still using Google TV. This works in its favor in some respects, but overall Google TV still has a few bugs to work out. There is still a tendency toward the occasional system crash and freezing app. But still, it is much improved over previous versions.
The other problem is that major services like Google Music, HBO Go, MLB.TV, Spotify and even Google’s own TV and Movie rental service have been blocked and are therefore missing dedicated apps on the Vizio Co-Star. The Amazon button on the remote is misleading and simply takes you to Amazon.com in the Chrome browser.
The Vizio Co-Star looks very much like many of its competitors – it’s a small black box that connects to your TV via your cable box. It enhances your cable watching experience by joining your cable content and that of the internet into a single interface, powered by Google. A Google TV overhaul should involve making the interface easier to navigate. Since the cable and Vizio box share the same HDMI input, you don't have to switch inputs when you toggle between live TV and Vizio's apps and services.
Google TV has come a long way recently and the Vizio Co-Star has earned its place on our lineup, even if it can't quite compete with the best media players on our list. It’s compatible with resolutions up to 1080p, but the network connection often determines the real quality of the picture. It has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and supports 3D playback.
The remote is clunkier than the remote included with other media servers. The main buttons like play, pause, fast forward and rewind are too small and located in a non-intuitive location above the touchpad. The QWERTY keyboard on the back helps you navigate through Google TV’s many features, and has a directional pad on the left and ABXY game buttons on the right for use with the online streaming game service.
As for connections, the Vizio Co-Star has both HDMI input and output, USB and Ethernet ports and a power cord receptacle in the back. These ports will allow you to access some of your personal media files.
Vizio's customer support is somewhat limited and they can only be reached by phone or email, but the company’s website does have FAQs and user manuals online.
The Vizio Co-Star home media player provides a wealth of web content on your TV. While it has a way to go before it truly competes with the best home media servers on the market and needs to work out some issues with Google TV, it's still a decent streaming device with the ability to access loads of internet content.