Vizio said Tuesday that it has updated its SmartCast app-based smart video display platform with an expanding library of apps that are easier to see and use.
The platform, which uses two devices to operate in many models — the TV and a tablet or smartphone — includes a library of popular apps including: Vudu, Hulu, iHeartRadio, Crackle, FandangoNow, Google Play Movies & TV and others.
However, using Amazon Instant Video has been problematic for some viewers. Vizio’s statement on the improvements to the SmartCast platform did not mention any changes to the Amazon video app or access to that service’s content without workarounds.
The platform still does not support the Amazon Instant Video streaming app. The easiest way to watch Amazon Instant Video on Vizio SmartCast sets is running a Chrome Browser on a PC equipped with the free Chromecast browser plug-in. This will enable casting content played in the browser to the TV screen, including Amazon Video.
Alternatively, some Amazon Prime account holders have opted to use a separate smart TV dongle, like an Amazon Fire TV stick or Roku adapter to get Amazon video service and other apps.
Meanwhile, the SmartCast additions and enhancements to the supported apps are said to improve ease of use for streaming content to any Vizio SmartCast device in the home. Updates include: a streamlined home screen, content catalog updates and a user tutorial, Vizio said.
Vizio first added its SmartCast platform, based on the then-called Google Cast platform (now known as Chromecast), to M- and P- series display models in 2016, eventually adding it to new E and D series models as well. The platform requires use of a tablet or mobile device to find and control apps to streamed content from the cloud through the bigger-screen display.
Vizio also uses the mobile device apps as a remote control for the display, providing picture and sound settings along with volume, power and channel buttons on the mobile device.
Many Vizio SmartCast displays in 2016 did not include over-the-air (OTA) TV broadcast tuners and therefore cannot be called “TVs”. They are either monitors or video displays under U.S. Commerce Department terminology.
Read more on Vizio’s SmartCast smart display platform updates after the jump:
Vizio listed other changes to the SmartCast app as: larger buttons on the home screen interface to “help simplify navigation and ensure key functions are easily accessible;” access to more TV shows and movies from the home screen and inclusion of a “Featured section” with added content recommendations.
New SmartCast users will be able to access a “Discover section” that showcases a curated selection of popular programs, including top picks from subscription-based apps.
The new SmartCast app home screen also features a Cast Apps section carrying Chromecast-enabled apps such as: Netflix, XUMO and Pluto TV. Vizio said that now when an app is selected it will launch on the user’s mobile device. If the app is not installed on the mobile device, the user will be immediately directed to the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store to download and install the Chromecast app being requested.
Chromecast apps will also be available via the SmartCast search function on the display to quickly find and install a desired in-demand app.
Vizio has announced that the sale of a majority interest in the company to China-based LeEco is pending approvals by both U.S. and Chinese government regulatory agencies. That sale has not been completed yet. Like last year, Vizio, did not appear on the floor of last week’s CES 2017 in Las Vegas.
By Greg Tarr
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