Vizio beefs up its smart TV platform

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Vizio’s new apps and features for its smart TV platform are part of its plan to keep up with HDTV rivals like LG and Samsung.

The platform, dubbed Vizio Internet Apps Plus, offers easier ways to launch apps and adds HTML5 support, which will hopefully attract more app developers to the platform.

In terms of interface, the biggest change is a new full-screen app launcher, which presents users with a grid of large app tiles, along with a few subsections for featured apps, new apps, and categories. For even faster access, Vizio’s platform also includes a pop-up launcher, which shows seven favorite apps along the bottom of the screen.

Vizio's new pop-up launcher

Vizio says the addition of HTML 5 support will enable “richer app experiences” with “better interactive design and features for customers.” We saw an example of this recently with Pandora’s new HTML5 app, which allows the company to develop new features faster, as well as deploy them across many different devices.

As for new apps, Vizio is adding M-Go for on-demand videos, ESPN ScoreCenter, ESPN Extra for college football highlights, and 3DGO for on-demand streaming 3D movies.

Finally, Vizio says it will support YouTube’s “Send to TV” feature, which lets users select videos on a phone or tablet and then have those videos play back on the television. Pairing happens automatically as long as the devices are on the same Wi-Fi network. This feature has been available on some other smart TVs since earlier this year, and is a key component of Google’s new Chromecast dongle.

What the competition is doing

Overall, Vizio isn’t trying to be overly ambitious like its competitors. Samsung’s current smart TV platform, for example, combines social networking updates and a live TV guide into a single interface, and LG has been concentrating on voice commands, universal search, and a fancy remote with motion controls. Vizio is taking a simpler approach aimed at getting you quickly into various Internet apps.

The new smart TV platform is available in Vizio’s current M-Series lineup, with screen sizes ranging from 32 inches ($380) to 80 inches ($3800).

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