Now that the Vizio Co-Star is out in the wild, we thought it would be a good idea to look at how it compares to the 3rd generation Apple TV. There are some very obvious differences between these two devices, but there are also some similarities as well. Continue reading for our breakdown of the Vizio Co-Star and 3rd gen Apple TV, including a handy comparison table.
Side by side
|Vizio Co-Star||Apple TV (3rd Gen)|
|Size||4.2" x 4.2" x 1.6"||3.9" x 3.9" x .9"|
|Weight||.66 LBS||.6 LBS|
|Video Formats||H.264, MP4, MKV||H.264, MP4, M-JPEG|
|Audio Formats||AAC, WMA, MP3||WAV, AAC, MP3, AIFF, Apple Lossless, Audible|
|App Store||Google Play||None|
|Digital Audio Out||No||Yes|
|WIFI||802.11 b/g/n||802.11 b/g/n|
|USB||1 port||1 port|
Both devices have an MSRP of $99, which means there is no financial reason to choose one device over the other. Apple TV is available both online and in stores from a variety of retailers, but the Co-Star is under a limited initial release and is currently sold out of pre-order units. Both units are Internet-ready and feature a variety of applications for streaming content from the web.
In terms of size and appearance, the Co-Star and Apple TV are pretty similar. The only major differences are the fact that the Co-Star features an HDMI input port (needed to give Google TV access to your Cable or Satellite provider’s program guide) and Bluetooth connectivity. Both devices have an Ethernet port, 802.11 b/g/n WIFI, one USB port and a hardware remote control.
Software and Apps
Other than the obvious fact that the Co-Star is powered by the Google TV OS and the Apple TV is powered by iOS, there are some major software differences to consider when comparing these two devices. The Co-Star includes access to an App Store via Google Play, Chrome browser, and support for Flash: all missing from the Apple TV. The Co-Star also includes support for OnLive’s video game streaming technology, which offers access to hundreds of games including Batman: Arkham City and Darksiders II.
On the flip side, the Apple TV features several apps not available on Google TV, including the highly coveted Hulu Plus app. In addition, there are a slew of AirPlay-ready apps which can be accessed from a connected Apple device such as an iPad or iPhone. Speaking of AirPlay (Apple’s streaming technology that allows for various forms of media to be shared between capable devices), there is currently no technology for Google TV to match it other than an upcoming software update which will allow for Web videos to be queued up from a mobile device.
A final note about software and apps: there is a dedicated Google TV developers website and an add-on to the Android SDK (software development kit) which helps developers create apps tailored for Google TV. At this time, there is no such SDK for Apple TV.
The Vizio Co-Star marks the first current-generation Google TV device that can match the Apple TV’s price point, and boasts some nice features such as the OnLive gaming support. Many would argue that Google TV is still missing some crucial functionality and applications, such as an AirPlay-like streaming capability and content like Hulu Plus. However, a device like the Co-Star may be just what Google TV needs to gain a second wind in the ever expanding Internet-ready set-top-box market.
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