Hands-On With VIA Plus Internet Apps, 21:9 HDTVs, And More

Vizio's new 2011 HDTVs feature revamped Vizio Internet Apps, and even a few ultra-widescreen TVs. Read on for our first impressions, plus a few videos. Also, don't forget to check out our hands-on video with the new Vizio Theater 3D TVs.

VIA Plus: Google TV, Round 2

Google TV may have gotten a rather lackluster response in the Logitech Revue set-top box and Sony's Google TV lineup, but Vizio is working with them to make it the core of Vizio's high-end Smart TV feature set, VIA Plus.

In Video: Vizio's VIA Plus Smart TV Features In Action

You navigate the VIA Plus menus with a Bluetooth remote, which has a full QWERTY slider keyboard and touchpad, which makes it much easier to browse the Web. While the remote isn't quite ready for prime time, a Vizio rep stated that they intended to add an accelerometer to the remote for better gaming features, and a mic for voice search.

Frankly, the VIA Plus features look solid, but unless they can fix the problems that other Google TV implementations have hit--like content providers blocking all Google TV viewers, and interface viewability issues--they won't be able to hang with the other Smart TV features from LG, Samsung, Panasonic, and Sony.

Vizio Ultra-widescreen Cinema HDTV: Not Just For Connoisseurs

Among Vizio's new HDTVs are a handful of high-end sets intended for true cinephiles--namely, their ultra-widescreen Cinema HDTV sets, which boast a 21:9 aspect ratio instead of the 16:9 dimensions seen in practically every other HDTV on the market.

In Video: Vizio Ultra-widescreen Cinema HDTV, In Video

Frankly, I'm no film purist, so I didn't think that the aspect ratio difference would be a big deal until I saw it for myself. If you've ever asked yourself why you bother buying a big HDTV only to waste 10% of the screen space on black bars, you'll definitely want to take a look at their Cinema HDTVs, which can take an incoming video signal and automatically resize it so every bit of the display is used. Combine that with the relatively narrow, slick-looking bezel, and it looks simply gorgeous.

Games, Games, Games

Vizio also demoed an HDTV with OnLive's cloud-based gaming service baked in. While we weren't able to find a definite date for when we'd start to see Vizio TVs shipping with OnLive features, this is a very interesting play that takes a shot both at traditional games console manufacturers as well as rival TV companies like Panasonic, who touted their GameLoft partnership earlier in the week. No, you're not seeing double--the OnLive demo pictured below features their Versus single-screen multiplayer.

Check out PCWorld's complete coverage of CES 2011.

This story, "Hands-On With VIA Plus Internet Apps, 21:9 HDTVs, And More" was originally published by PCWorld.

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