Vizio’s New Android Tablets Are a Rare Sight at CES

Apparently Vizio didn't get the memo that Android tablets aren't worth making anymore. It's planning to release two of them -- one with a 10.1-inch display, the other with a 7-inch display.

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Jared Newman / TIME.com

Apparently Vizio didn’t get the memo that Android tablets aren’t worth making anymore. It’s planning to release two of them — one with a 10.1-inch display, the other with a 7-inch display.

Vizio’s 10.1-inch Android tablet is one of the first devices we’ve seen with an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, with the extra graphics oomph helping to power a 2560-by-1600 resolution display. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see what else Tegra 4 can do; Vizio’s prototype was short on software to check out, and the software hadn’t been optimized at all yet, so it was a bit choppy in its pre-launch state.

vizio10inandroid

Jared Newman / TIME.com

Other specs for Vizio’s 10.1-inch tablet include 32 GB of storage with a MicroSD slot for added capacity, a 5-megapixel camera in back, a 1.3-megapixel camera up front, Micro-USB and Micro-HDMI output. Although the tablet on display was clad in plastic, with sharp edges reminiscent of its thin-and-light PCs, Vizio is debating whether to use aluminum instead.

The 7-inch tablet is like a slimmer, lighter Nexus 7, with sharper edges. Its specs are nearly identical to Google‘s own Android tablet, with a 1280-by-800 resolution display, Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 16 GB of storage and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera. Although Vizio hasn’t announced a final weight and thickness for its 7-inch tablet, as a Nexus 7 user I can say that Vizio’s tablet felt noticeably airier.

(MORE: What’s in the Bag, Wuss? Gearing Up for the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show)

Both tablets run an unmodified version of Android 4.1. Eagle-eyed Android fans may notice, however, that the tablets use an older style of Android tablet interface, without the app dock found in Google’s Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. Vizio Chief Technical Officer Matt McRae told me the company is still deciding whether to switch to the newer interface style.

Of course, the main problem for Vizio is the same one that’s scared off other companies, who’ve basically stopped releasing high-end tablets based on Google’s operating system: It’s not clear why you’d buy an Android tablet — even a well-built, competitively-priced one — instead of an iPad, or for that matter, instead of Google’s own Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets.

vizio7inandroidside

Jared Newman / TIME.com

Vizio thinks it has Google beat on display quality, design and, in the case of the 10-inch tablet, performance, but it’s hard to sell the mass market on minor spec differences, and Android still suffers a lack of tablet apps compared to Apple‘s iOS. Vizio hasn’t announced prices or release dates for its tablets yet, either.

Still, I’m glad there’s at least one company that’s showing off new Android tablets at CES. It seems that most other vendors have been scared off by slow sales and tough competition from devices like the Kindle Fire (which hardly resembles Android at all) and Google’s own Nexus tablets. These days, they’re placing their bets on Windows 8 instead. But if Vizio can get its prices low enough and get its products in front of shoppers at major retailers, it may have a chance to bring some life back to the Android tablet scene.
MORE: Check out TIME Tech’s complete coverage of the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show

12 comments
ejscharf
ejscharf

I love following the biases of sundry tech writers. Last week, I read a column by a self-described "Apple Guy," who was swearing off his iPad because of the creativity of those writing Android apps and the user-friendly nature of the Android OS. This week, it's not even worth producing an Android tablet because the iPad dominates the world. I think the moral of this story is that each of us has to decide what works for us. Personally, I find Apple's approach to tablets insulting (I use one at work provided by my employer). Woe unto anyone who actually wants to adapt the iPad to his unique needs; doing this requires searches for work-arounds and add-ons. The absence of a file manager in the earlier devices astounds me, and don't get me started on what's involved in removing photos that reside on the iPad, but were taken with another device. And, the absence of remote outputs and sdcard slots is mind-boggling.

jjjjmonkey
jjjjmonkey

Do NOT underestimate the popularity of Android tablets outside of the USA.  Apple does not have quite the same popularity and prices are perceived as too expensive.  Android OS is catching up big time and there really is no shortage of apps.  Remember most smartphones these days are Android based so consumers worldwide are comfortable with the Android OS.

commentonitall
commentonitall like.author.displayName 1 Like

"but it’s hard to sell the mass market on minor spec differences"


No it's not, look at Apple!


flaming
flaming

This is a nicely built 7 inch tablet from Vizio. I am surprise that Vizio did not make a Windows 8 tablet because according to news coming from CES, most manufacturers are making Windows 8 computers. http://x.co/rqVf

newmanjb
newmanjb

@flaming Vizio does have a Windows 8 tablet in the works. I just haven't written about it yet, but it's got a 1080p 11.6-inch display and runs on an AMD Z-series processor.

janduin.x
janduin.x

What a garbage article. You do realize that android tablets are already on the verge of outselling the iPad, yes? Al the analysts thought it would be 2015 at the earliest, but last I checked, Android tablets are already at a 45%+ market share.

newmanjb
newmanjb

@janduin.x Only if you count the Kindle Fire, which so heavily modified from the Android source code that it's not really Android anymore, and with its closed ecosystem goes against everything that Android is supposed to be. You should know better than to omit that fact.

cheeto0
cheeto0

@newmanjb @janduin.x Kindle fire is Android with a skin , like every other android device.  It is a "heavier" skin than others but it still runs android apps, so its android.   Its part of what android is supposed to be, diversity.  I personally wouldn't want to own a device that is as closed as kindle, but its still under the android umbrella.  A lot of the larger companies showed off new technology but few new products coming to market because they want to hold their own event for their new products.  That is why we seen few new tablets , phones...etc

newmanjb
newmanjb

@cheeto0 @newmanjb @janduin.x It runs Android apps, but from its own store rather than Google Play, and it lacks Google's own suite of apps such as Gmail, Chrome and Google Maps. It's also not on the same upgrade path as Android, and the features that Google adds to the OS are separate from the ones that Amazon adds to the Kindle Fire. It's a completely separate ecosystem, and I just don't see how Android as a whole is getting stronger because of it.

DanMan'99
DanMan'99

@janduin.x  Yes, 50 different Android tablets on the verge of outselling 3 Apple tablets.

jjjjmonkey
jjjjmonkey

I didn't realize that there were that many tablets that are better than the Ipad. 

janduin.x
janduin.x

@DanMan'99 @janduin.x So choice is bad. Got it. You must like what Apple wants you to like, and not what actually works for you.