Vizio is known for bringing pretty-good-for-the-price TVs to your living room. Now they've got an eight-inch tablet for you to cozy up with on the couch during those cold winter nights. But it's like snuggling with a cat who's had too many Cheetoes.
The living roomiest feature of all is this thing's IR blaster and universal remote app. Programming it for my different devices was fast and easy, and it worked reasonably well (though it didn't have a home button analog for my Roku Player, which was frustrating). The speakers on this thing offer more clarity and bass than I've heard on just about any tablet, and they did something pretty smart with them. They put three speakers on this slab, and depending on how your hold it different speakers will be activated so it always sounds stereoriffic.
Most importantly, maybe, it's cheap compared to most of its Android brethren, going for around $290. (Or it was until the Kindle Fire got announced.) The UI they've put over Android is a bit Tron-ish but it doesn't look bad [editor's note: it's an atrocity frankly], and if you have other Vizio products this aesthetic will jive with those. It's one of the few Android tablets with a 4:3 ratio (most are 16:9 or 16:10 widescreen), which is good for reading books. And it's got loads of ports, to the tune of micro SD, micro USB, and micro HDMI.
Unfortunately, there ain't a lot of horsepower here. With a 1GHz single-core processor and 512MB of RAM, this guy starts huffing and puffing pretty easily and there's noticeable lag. It runs Android 2.3, which wasn't designed for tablets. They tried to overcome this with their UI, which does away with the classic Android homescreen/desktop. What you get is just a big old app drawer where apps can be grouped together and a separate Widget Board. The Widget Board is pretty bad. It's basically another desktop you can fill with widgets. And just widgets. Which makes them nigh pointless. In the process, Vizio erased Android's much-beloved notification panel.
Then there's the body. Just like a person that spends too much time on the couch, this tablet is thick and heavy. It's about half an inch thick, and though its screen is almost a full inch smaller than the Galaxy Tab 8.9, it won't fit in my jacket pocket like the Galaxy because it's almost a half-inch wider. There's no comfortable way to hold it in one hand (being over a pound doesn't help). Also, the screen is fairly pixely and isn't super bright.
Should I Buy This?
It's cheap, for an Android tablet. $300! Unfortunately, there's just a lot of better stuff out there. The upcoming Kindle Fire is going to be only $200 and well, it's going to be way better. If you reeeeally wanted a tablet with remote control features, the Sony Tablet S has the same IR blaster but it's much faster and more palmable (albeit considerably more expensive).