VIZIO definitely hit the jackpot with the Co-Star Google TV box. The smart tv unit offers everything Google has to offer for only $100; a price that has given the device a boost since its initial launch, back in August. The Co-Star has been going in and out of stock ever since, but it recently became available again and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to finally get our hands on one.
Despite its initial shipping delays and issues, we got our unit three days after ordering it. After using it for a couple days, we can say the device is definitely worth the $100, but it comes with some sacrifices too. The device itself is small, good-looking and well-built. It is not so much the unit we should focus on, though, it is the Google TV experience.
What you physically interact with more is the remote, which I must say is a bit of a lackluster. It is quite bulky, which seems extraneous – seeing how portable the Co-Star is. Once you get past that, it may seem like there is much more to it than slightly bad aesthetics. Though it works as it should, the QWERTY keyboard on the back (which works via bluetooth) can be laggy. I find myself constantly having to correct words because the keyboard misses letters I type. The buttons are also rubber and one must press pretty hard for it to recognize input. Luckily, one can simply use a wireless keyboard/mouse via the USB port on the back.
The Interface is just like any other Google TV out there, with access to all apps and Google TV features. The set-up is easy and straight-forward, so you won’t have much trouble with the initial wizard. Performance is a bit sluggish, though, but not horrible compared to competing products (the low price definitely makes up for it). Apps work as they should and movies stream great, even in HD, so that’s definitely a plus.
There are some hardware limitations, as well. For example, the unit doesn’t have audio output. One is forced to either transfer audio via HDMI or using the audio outputs on your cable box, Bluray player or whatever else you may use. The Co-Star also only receives video/audio through hdmi, which some cable boxes still lack. The HDMI input and output are accompanies by a power connection, a wire ethernet port and a USB port.
If you can get past some of these issues, I would say the Co-Star is a great device for someone wanting to try Google TV. Even those with Logitech Revues and other older Google TVs would benefit from it, especially at $100. These are just a few initial thoughts, but stick around for the full review if you are still on the fence about purchasing this one. And if you have any questions, ask me in the comments!