The Vizio Co-Star Google TV set top box is now available for pre-order for the low price of $99, and it will start shipping on August 14th.
The Vizio Co-Star includes two HDMI ports, one USB port, and one Ethernet jack. On the software side, you’ll of course get everything that Google TV has to offer, including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Youtube, and, perhaps the most interesting feature for some users, OnLive gaming support.
I think the Vizio Co-Star will achieve at least reasonable success in the market, and will probably be the most successful Google TV yet. Why? Because of two main reasons: pricing and games.
First off, $99 is the sweet spot for this kind of devices; OUYA is smart to price their console the same way, too. The initial $300 price of the Revue Google TV box was ridiculous, and I don’t know what kind of market research they did before launching it, that showed them the device would be successful with that kind of pricing.
The Revue only started selling after it got heavily discounted down to $99. But the Vizio Co-Star has something the Revue didn’t: games. The device comes with a dual core 1.5 Ghz Marvell ARM CPU, which means all Android games should work on it. Plus, you get access to all OnLive games as well. So you can hook up a controller to it and use it as a console. All for $99, and almost a year before OUYA is here (although OUYA is specifically designed as a console, and has a more powerful quad-core Tegra 3 processor).
For those who are more interested in the media playing capabilities, both XBMC and Plex are either available for Google TV already, or they will become soon. So you can also get an affordable media streamer for the same low price of $99.
The Vizio Co-Star’s main competitor this summer will be the Sony NSZ-GS7, another Google TV box, which supports cloud gaming as well. However, Sony’s Google TV will go for twice the price of the Co-Star, at $199.