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on August 20, 2014
A really-useless device, and I'm sorry I was suckered into buying it! I did so because of the high ratings vs. other video streamers, and the fact that it comes with its own mini keyboard (which is a good feature). However, this product is not ready for prime time. It came with few instructions, and when I called Vizio for assistance, no one was able to help. In fact, they didn't know what I was asking, and the guy finally admitted he didn't know anything about the product. So I asked if I could speak to someone who did, and he yelled across the room at some guy, who also did not understand my question, which went unanswered, and I was left to figure it out for myself. The interface is OK, but surfing is extremely slow, and streaming is very choppy, coming to a complete stop at times. I can't even imagine trying to watch an entire movie! In addition, I could not get the device to pair with others in my system. I can read e-mail on the TV now, which is about all this device is good for. Save your money till someone comes up with a better way to get the Internet on TV, or simply buy a smart TV.
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on December 20, 2012
I've owned the Co-Star for about 2 months.

Initially I thought it was a neat gadget to try out to see if I wanted or needed Google TV on the next big screen TV I would purchase. I also wanted to find that 1 tech device that will control everything (tired of having multiple remotes, etc.) I also figured that since these are on back-order (lack of supply) that I could resell it easily if I didn't like it.

Install and overview:
Co-Star took about 5 to 10 minutes to install and sync with everything, and has worked flawlessly since. It connects and controls everything in my entertainment system with no issues. Great device, the software keeps updating and getting better (my Co-Star is receiving software updates automatically from Google). The layout of the apps, and the navigation is better than the typical Vizio TV apps (for those of you that are familiar with the Vizio Apps layout). The new layout / navigation takes some getting used to just like any new technology. And like every new technology, it can use some software improvements. However, for $99 this far exceeded my expectations.

The issue concerning the Co-Star remote control:

The best thing about Co-Star is that I finally have a device / remote that consolidates and commands EVERY product that is hooked into my entertainment system. This is a huge plus! The Co-Star remote has a high degree of programability. It controls my Toshiba TV. Controls my Samsung Time Warner cable box.. full DVR control, access the guide, settings, search, schedule recordings, ff/play/rev, scroll in every direction, everything on the cable box! Controls my LG Blu-Ray surround sound system. XBOX 360.

The layout / design of the remote is probably my only "complaint" about the product. The Co-Star remote is similar to every other Vizio TV remote... which are not backlit. My brain is just too wired into the button layout of my Time Warner cable remote that I have always used.... I can navigate the Time Warner cable remote if I were blindfolded, wearing mittens, while in a straight jacket. So not being backlit is the reason it is difficult for me to use the Vizio remotes in the dark. However, I downloaded the free app called ABLE REMOTE. This app turns your cell or tablet into a remote, it has bigger buttons, is much more intuitive, and is easier to use. It is so much easier to navigate than using the Co-Star remote's touchpad. It also allows you to program favorite channels, websites, etc. Honestly the ABLE remote app is better than my Time Warner cable remote. It's better than the Google Remote app too!.

As for the big 4 items that I typically use:
Netflix & Pandora work just like they should. Netflix layout is better with Co-Star than a typical Vizio TV apps.

YouTube is very intuitive, & I like the Co-Star's YouTube layout / functionality. You get used to it very quickly, and you can scroll through 'related' videos amazingly quick. Again better than Vizio TV apps.

Amazon VOD took some getting used to, because Co-Star does not use the standard Amazon "app". Co-Star essentially takes you right to Amazon's website through the Chrome browser, then you navigate to your Amazon playlist / watchlist just like you would typically do on a laptop. So, this is very different from what everybody has been used to with the Amazon "app" on Roku or Vizio TV's. The upside of using Amazon VOD on the Co-Star is that you can utilize Amazon's Watchlist functionality, and browse / search for titles much more thoroughly. However, I do wish that in addition to the full Amazon VOD website, that Amazon would have a simple "app" interface that had just 4 items: Purchases, Watchlist, Prime, and "go to full website". This would simplify the process of watching the movies I've already purchased or that I want to watch (instead of having to navigate to it through the browser).

Other than the big 4:

Inernet. It's a full Chrome browser. Syncs with all of my Chrome settings and bookmarks on my other devices. Works and looks the same as using my laptop. Using the included Vizio Co-Star remote isn't the easiest way to type and search the web on your TV.... so download the free ABLE remote app to your cell / tablet and you can type on your phone / tablet just like you currently do while using your TV as the display. It's 100% easier to browse the web this way.

Google Play Music. Very nice feature to have on the TV screen. Google Music has been around for awhile, but I never really used it.... it was simpler to just use a playlist on Pandora through my entertainment system. Now that I've got the Google Play Music on the TV screen, I'm listening to my own playlists and the 1000 or so albums that I've actually purchased in my life, instead of always just using Pandora playlists.

Google Play Movies. app works and integrates with all other devices. Also, Google Play Movies is very specific and lets you choose between buying a movie in SD, or buying in HD. It shows the price for either side by side, and lets me choose if I want to spend extra money for the HD version. Amazon could take a lesson here.

Google PrimeTime. Nice to see what else is on TV that I might want to watch. This is somewhat like the suggestions you get from Netflix (Netflix suggests what you like based on how you've rated past titles)... Google PrimeTime is suggesting movies / shows that are currently (or coming on in next 1/2 hour) on your cable TV that you may want to watch (just like Netflix... on Google TV you have to start rating movies and tv shows for this to work well). Hoping for the ability in future software update to select my own "categories" instead of the standard "New", "Comedy", "Drama", etc categories that are currently used. ...just like I can customize the categories and the viewing order of my Google News sections..

Google PrimeTime also allows you to search for a movie, and it will show you all the places you can watch the movie (On your own cable TV, Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, etc) and if you can rent it, or buy it, and the costs associated for each. This is a very nice feature, avoids the time involved with searching through my own Cable system, then searching Netflix, then searching Amazon to see where and how much a movie is that I want to see.

I think the Google PrimeTime app has a ton of future expandibility. It's been updated once or twice since I've owned my Co-Star. They could link it with Google Drive, then essentially you have full TiVo / DVR capability. Again, this is at a $99 pricepoint all in, while currently Time Warner charges $10 / monthly rent per cable box. I'm interested to see what the Google software developers can do with the PrimeTime app.

M-Go... still waiting to see what this is.
OnLive... I don't play video games, so no opinion.

Other apps?? I haven't really used anything else, but there's a bunch of other stuff there.

Syncing to cell phone / tablet:
The coolest thing about Co-Star is the ability for it to sync with my Android cell phone and tablet. I'm just learning how to use this, but it seems that the possibilities will explode very quickly. While using certain apps / features on my cell phone or tablet, I can hit a "share" icon on the phone's screen and the TV will display whatever is on my phone's screen. Photo's, slideshows, etc. When I'm using YouTube on my phone or tablet, I can hit the "share" icon on the phone / tablet and the video instantly starts also playing on the TV. I can then search and add more videos to the "view on tv queue" on my phone without interrupting the video that is currently playing on the TV. I think that this sharing functionality is part of the most recent update, and it is very neat. I'd hope that very quickly every app on my phone / tablet will allow this.

Within the next 6 months, I don't see the need for specific Google TV apps for things like Facebook, Twitter, etc. It feels that Android capability to link your cell phone / tablet to the Co-Star is going to solve the entire issue and make it simpler than anybody imagined.

The devices sync using your home wifi.

Conclusion:
My current 50" TV is 6 years old and works well. I bought it before all the new gadgets were invented, so I've used ROKU, Blu-Ray players with apps, and now the Co-Star to make my old TV much more functional. Roku and Blu-Ray player were both very simple and basic, but VERY limited and maybe 1 or 2 software updates over the years. The Co-Star was the least expensive, and best performing, and IMO has the best ability for ongoing software updates.

The Co-Star is not perfect, it doesn't yet do everything in the world that all the technology reviewers are dreaming of... but it is getting software updates that have eliminated most of the initial complaints and improving the apps. So make sure to read the date of any reviews you have read. My review is as of today, Dec 20, 2012.

It doesn't wash your car, cook your meals, take out the dog, have every app in the world, etc... so if you're dreaming about and waiting for THE DEVICE that does everything you want specifically for your own preferences and likes, then you're probably going to need to win the Powerball and hire your own engineers to build it for you.

For $99 Co-Star is a great device for anybody that wants to use or try out internet capabilities, and begin using unified Android phone / tablet / TV capabilities on THEIR CURRENT TV set, prior to spending $1000 to $2000 for a new TV that will become outdated within 12 months. I believe that within 6 to 12 months, simply having the Co-Star communicate with your cell, laptop, or tablet will trump the idea of building the hardware into a TV set or some other gadget.

And, for $99 it is a flat out great device with a lot of current capabilities that will only improve because Android keeps evolving and getting updated.

EDIT: May 16, 2013.
Just an update:
I'm now so used to the remote control that it is no longer even an issue. My brain has learned where all the buttons are and I can easily use it in the dark. I also eventually figured out how to connect all my equipment so that the remote controls everything in my TV / Audio system.

A standard Amazon App was released and included with the last software update a few months ago. So that issue is completely eliminated. The Co-star Amazon App is much better than on a Vizio TV set.

The new PRIME app is probably what I like best about the Co-Star. And it truly does make "finding something to watch" much much much easier. The PRIME app is basically a new feature that pops up at the bottom of the screen and shows tiles of movies / tv shows currently on tv that you might be interested in. (it learns to know what you like!) The interface is clean, you scroll up / down for categories (similar to Netflix) and scroll horizontally for different titles (again, like Netflix). The items displayed are based on how you've already rated shows and movies. The more you use it and rate titles, the better it gets. Where this software completely blows away the Netflix software.... is that you can select the "Don't show this channel again" or "Not interested, don't show titles like this again", and the software will stop showing them as something you "might be interested in". I am so tired of the Netflix software that keeps showing me the same movies that I've already rated "waste of time". Netflix refuses to change their recommendation algorithms! The PRIME app software actually stops showing you items when you tell it you don't like them. Also, the PRIME app allows me to eliminate duplicate titles (HD and Standard def) playing at the same time by clicking on the "don't show this channel again" for the Standard def version. The learning algorithm needs your input, and I get EVERY channel that time warner cable offers....so probably after 2 weeks I had rated enough titles and eliminated standard def, spanish, etc type channels so that the PRIME app was getting really focused in to where it should be. The app also allows me to program a row that includes just my "favorite" channels. So, I NO LONGER USE THE Time Warner CHANNEL GUIDE AT ALL.

Lastly, it feels that the purchase price of movies has jumped up so much versus 1 or 2 years ago!! With Co-star, if I want to watch a movie, I can quickly check to see if it is free on Netflix or Amazon Prime, or HBO-GO. If it isn't, then I can quickly check the rental / purchase price on Amazon, Google Play, VUDU, and M-Go. (there's also a 3rd party app that can do this too)
I am amazed at the price differences for movies on the various platforms. I can also see the price for buying (or renting) in HD or standard def. I've definitely saved over $99 just by comparison shopping for movies I want to watch (or own).

I initially bought the Co-Star to see if I wanted / needed Google TV as an internal feature when I purchase my next big screen TV. After using this device.... I no longer even think of it as "Google TV". TO ME IT SIMPLY FEELS LIKE HOW A TV SHOULD WORK in this world of cell phones/apps where we basically tailor almost everything to our specific needs. These google tv devices are bringing an open sourced functionality to the world of TV. Instead of having to scroll up / down through a channel guide with 1000 channels, the software has learned what types of shows / movies I like to watch and with a clean interface at the bottom of the screen it shows me where / when they will be on tv. Instead of being stuck having to purchase a movie from the specific app that is included from the tv manufacturer,,, I can comparison shop quickly across multiple video apps and buy from the app with lowest price. It just seems natural to have that ability to comparison shop.

The Co-star and other devices still aren't perfect and the software is evolving. Based on the $99 cost for these type of open source devices, I'm much more inclined to just buy the tv with the best picture and not get bogged down with the manufacturer's internal branded apps and stuff. Plugging in a $99 OPEN SOURCE device is so much better than being stuck with the TV manufacturer's planned obsolescence.
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on February 2, 2013
I have changed my review. Since owning the costar for several months, we are very displeased with it, but stuck. It freezes every day, have to unplug it, wait 60 seconds, plug back in and wait for it to boot. Boot time is longer than my laptop as we wait for the home page to pull up. Then there is no guarantee it will work - it will sit with a big "V" in the center of a blue screen. Rather pretty, but not what I purchased this for. Now the remote has started freezing. Thought it was the batteries, replaced them and still have problems. Will freeze - can still adjust volume on sound bar, just can't get main menu or go online - get the pretty blue screen of death. Have to remove the batteries from the remote, wait 60 seconds and put them back in. Don't buy this product unless you have a lot of patience. The keyboard on the back of the remote is next to useless, you have to push hard, if you have finger nails you might as well forget it. The whole key has to be pushed hard, with my fingernails they are long enough to prevent my full finger end from touching the whole pad, I can't use it. I can type fine on a laptop, it is the product. The only thing we do with this co-star cube is watch Netflix and Amazon movies, if I had to do more with it I would have thrown it out of the window and ran it over with my car. I couldn't imagine being in the middle of a chat and have the cube freeze, having to unplug it, wait and then re-boot. That chat would be over. Spend you money on a good internet ready DVD, save yourself alot of headache. The sad thing is I own 2 Vizio televisions and the sound bar. I am extremely happy with them which makes this failure disappointing.
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on September 4, 2013
My experience with the co-star has been a long, uphill, but rewarding journey. I would like to say that when I first unboxed the Co-Star, I was certainly not impressed. The second I hooked it up to my TV and powered it on, it started literally screaming at me. It would play no music, would play no audio, except of course horrific electronic screams. Quickly however, the device prompted me for an update. After a restart, the screams finally stopped. Unfortunately, this update was plagued with issues of its own. To save power, the unit will often go into a suspend or sleep mode, which is of course fine in theory. In practice however, like an allegorical grandfather my co-star would fall asleep, and never wake up. Subsequent updates were like beta blockers (to extend the metaphor), they helped stave off the inevitable, but could not prevent the long night altogether. I stuck with the platform and its many foibles because the inconvenience was minor, and the features were solid. With the 5.3 update however, I must say I am truly pleased. Like a certain blue pill, the most recent update has breathed life back into what reasonable beings would have considered long dead, and I am pleased to say that I have experienced no unwakable box since. I am really happy to see the progress the platform has made; It finally feels like the stable, feature rich, and cost-effective product I was promised.

tl;dr:
It's a great buy, but make sure you install all the updates (there may be several) as soon as you open it.
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on October 19, 2015
I've had my vizio costar for a couple of years now. It has had its share of hiccups and problems, but has performed well overall. Please be aware that it no longer streams Amazon Instant Video or M-Go apps! This is coming directly from Vizio tech support!! This piece of hardware is OFFICIALLY outdated!!!
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on July 10, 2016
This device overheated, locked up, lost icons, broke apps, and had to be reset almost weekly to keep it running. Google TV is now long dead. Android TV is the new kid on the block, but I fear Google will probably let that one whither on the vine as well. I now have an Apple TV 4 and couldn't be happier. After hours of running the Apple TV, you can touch the device and wouldn't know it was on at all. The Vizio, by comparison, could have been used to iron clothing.
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on May 20, 2013
A great version of the Google TV, lots of hidden features, all at a low price.

I wish Visio would add more content to their product page, as this thing could easily dominate the market.

Here are some things I love about the box.

Google TV's PrimeTime is nice, but the real beauty is the Visio guide. One button opens up a menu bar of graphical items which show the current movies & tv shows, all organized under content type. The great thing is that this doesn't take up the whole screen, so you can still watch tv. Select one of the banners, press the menu button and the costar will bring up all the details. From here, you can select other seasons or similar movies/tv shows. If the content is available in streaming form, the Co-Star will organize it based on price. Basically, it compiles the content list across your cable/satellite provider and streaming providers like NetFlix, hulu and Prime. All your content is organized in one place.

It's a bluetooth device. It not only syncs with my android tablet (for use a Google TV remote), but it also syncs to bluetooth headphones. A great way to watch TV and not disturb the family.

Plug in a USB flash drive and it will scan it for content. Use the PlayPoint app, and you now have access to your mp3s, pictures and videos. Plug in a terrabyte USB harddrive and you some serious content. It just takes a while for the co-star to digest a large drive, but it will be worth the wait.

It's a functional web browser. Need to look up something while watching TV? Just hit a button and the browser is overlayed on the screen. Weather? No problem. Maps? How about satellite maps and google streetview right on your tv!

Honestly, you will spend a ton of time playing with the features of this box and still not find everything. For $99 it's a great deal. Get a good HDMI cable, one rated for Ethernet, as you will be moving a ton of data through this unit.
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on April 15, 2013
I purchased my Vizio Co-Star late last year when it first came out. At the time it was sluggish, very buggy, and not terribly useful.
Since its initial release Vizio has delivered several major system upgrades that have stabilized the unit, made the menus much snappier, and a decent amount of new applications have been released. At this point it is my favorite stream player.

I would advise anyone reading reviews of the device to disregard any software related comments older than a March of 2013. The device was truly unstable and generally wacky prior to the updates.

When you receive the Co-Star allow it to OTA update 100% then do a factory reset from the settings menu. You will have to setup the device again but it is simple and ensures the unit will be really stable.

I primarily use Netflix and Plex on the Co-Star so I don't have a lot of feedback on many of the other applications, but Netflix is rock solid and quality is great.

If you are not familiar with Plex it is a fantastic personal streaming media server. There is currently a pre-release version of the Plex android client (called "Plex for Plex Pass") that is working wonderfully on the Co-Star the publicly available one is stable and good as well, but not as slick).

When I initially got the unit the wireless did not perform great. I hardwired the Ethernet and it was much better. This has possibly been addressed by the software updates but I have not tested

Pros:
The device (like most google tv's) goes in-line with the existing HDMI cable allowing its menus to overlay your existing video stream. This makes hook up really easy.

User interface is superior to the Roku 2xd (which is my 2nd favorite). The Roku has way too much left - right scrolling (Roku update coming soon with a new UI)

Very stable for what I am using it for

Priced right for what it does

Cons:
Remote control is pretty cheaply constructed

No buttons on the remote for left or right click - have to double tap the touch pad. This is annoying
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on February 28, 2013
I read about the Google TV v3 update for the Co-Star and went ahead with the purchase. The first time I hooked it up, it went through 2 full updates to get to the latest firmware. I also updated all of the built in apps which had newer versions available from the Google Play store. I have the Co-Star connected to the switchable power outlet on my amp, so it powers down with the Amp when not in use. Boot times are a little slow, and the image from the cable box does not appear until the Co-Star has fully started. It would have been nice to have an optical, pcm or other audio out option on the Co-Star. Since my amp is not hdmi compatible, I have the audio from the cable box going to the amp, and the co-star hdmi going to the tv. This means that audio from any streaming content has to use the TV sound. Moral of the story is if you use an amp, this will work better if it supports HDMI.

As far as performance goes, Netflix and Amazon video have been great. I am connected directly to my Fios router, and the video quality is very nice. YouTube has had a few buffering hiccups which is surprising given my connection speed. It's a shame HBO Go and MaxGo don't have official apps for Google TV.

The on screen quick guide (or whatever its called) is my favorite feature. It categorizes whats playing on TV, and makes it much nice to browse shows compared to a standard on screen guide.

My biggest complaint about the device is the remote. It's chunky, and seems to lose keystrokes. It's a pain to have to keep looking at the remote - > tv - remote etc to make sure what you are typing is getting through.

I have an old laptop in my entertainment center set up as an iTunes server. I'm looking forward to seeing how streaming my home videos to the Co-star works using plex.

In general, I'm happy with the device for the price. I hope that the selection of supported apps in the Play store expands a bit. The interface is not as polished as Boxee or Apple TV, but the flexibility seems better. Hopefully Vizio continues to update the firmware as Google improves the software... and hopefully they will release a new improved remote.
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on January 14, 2013
I bought this so that I could watch ESPN3 and WatchESPN on my TV without having to connect and disconnect my laptop to the ports on the back of my TV every time I wanted to watch a basketball game. It does that (and much more, of course) perfectly and the picture it puts on the TV is much better than the one my laptop put on the TV.

Connecting the device took all of about 2 minutes, and it worked perfectly right out of the box. The first time you turn it on it walks you through setup, and you need to have a gmail account, which I do, but you should get one first before you set it up. Don't be in a hurry because after setup it automatically detects a need to upgrade the firmware, and you have to click "OK." So I did and walked away for awhile and when I came back it had automatically detected the need for another firmware update, and again was asking me to click "OK" which I did, and then - I can't remember - but there may have actually been a third update to click "OK" to. All these firmware upgrades took a fair amount of time, but obviously they are essential and must be done. After doing them my Co-Star worked perfectly. Don't try using it without first performing ALL of the firmware updates.

After that it's ready to use. It must remain "on" all the time even when you are not using it, in order to pass the cable signal through. The "power on" light is in the back, but it doesn't matter because you have to leave it on all the time. (If you don't see a picture on your TV you know it's off.) I knew the box was small, but still I was surprised at how small it is, and sitting under a large screen TV and next to a soundbar, you barely notice it.

It comes with a bunch of Google apps, most of which I haven't tried yet because it's already doing what I got it for, but I do use Amazon a lot for TV show and movie downloads, and it works fine for that. To watch "WatchESPN" or "ESPN3" I went throught the Google Chrome app which works just fine, but obviously you can use Google Chrome just the way you would on your laptop or PC. Some day when I have some free time I will play with the other apps.

The Co-Star has WiFi and can connect to my wireless router, but Vizio recommends a wired connection if available. My router is downstairs in my office and my TV is upstairs in a loft area. I have the router connected with a wire to a D-Link system that sends network signals through the home electrical wiring, and I bring the signal out through the electrical outlet upstairs with a wire to a wireless access point and then an ethernet cable from the access point to the Vizio Co-Star (as well as another ethernet cable that goes from the access point to a Tivo box). This setup is basically a "wired" connection (almost as good as an ethernet cable straight from the router to the Co-Star) and definitely works much better that just a wireless connection to the Co-Star, because the Co-Star will downgrade picture quality when the internet signal slows or bogs down, as it sometimes does with a plain wireless connection.

Finally, the remote. I have other Vizio products so I am very familiar with their remotes, including all the new ones with the keyboard on the back, like this one. What is different is the small touchpad on the front which is supposed to work like the one on your laptop. It kind of does, but it is small and my fingers are big so it's going to take a lot more practice. Also, the volume control will work a Vizio TV volume but not my Vizio soundbar volume, which is a shame and probably an oversight on Vizio's part. If it weren't for these picky remote objections I'd have given the thing 5 stars.

Addendum: Following suggestions made in one of the comments, I went into set up and slowed down the tracking speed of the track pad. This made a tremendous difference and the track pad is easy to use now. Also, in setup it is possible to program the remote to control other devices, including sound bars, so now the volume control does operate the volume on the sound bar. I now give the Co-Star 5 stars instead of 4.
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