Gadgets
Vizio Android Tablet Built to Be a Universal Remote
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June 16, 2011 by Julie Jacobson

Vizio is building an Android tablet with an IR blaster and remote-control technology built in.

“That’s something that the other tablets don’t have” said technology reporter Robert Scoble in an interview with a Vizio official at the company’s Oakley, Calif., headquarters.

Shipping in July, the $350 tablet has a built-in remote control application that “covers about 95 percent of all CE products,” the Vizio official says.

An IR blaster is built into the thin edge of the device.

“What’s great about a software-based remote control,” he says, “is when you pair it to your device, it’ll only show you the keys for that device.”

He adds, “It’s not like a remote control you buy at RadioShack that has 150 buttons on it.”

Today, numerous apps exist for using an iOS or Android device as a universal remote control. But you have to add an external IR blaster to the device, or pair it with an RF module that converts commands to IR for controlling TVs and other CE devices.

The Vizio unit does it all by itself.

Other features: The unit has “great stereophonic sound” via two speakers at the front of the tablet, and an HDMI output.

Media-shifting functionality a la Apple’s AirPlay is “absolutely” part of the plan for the tablet, but will not be available in the first version.

Also, Vizio “spent a lot of time and effort on customizing the UI [user interface] to make it really easy,” says the Vizio guy. “Android’s not very good at UI stuff.”

The UI on the tablet is similar to what you would see on a Vizio TV’s on-screen display.

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IR blaster embedded in the edge of Vizio tablet

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Julie Jacobson - Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

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