Vizio usually has some cool stuff to show off at CES, and this year is no different. While we’re used to seeing TVs with a smattering of computers and tablets from the company, this year it’s throwing us something of a curve ball by introducing a series of portable Bluetooth speakers equipped with touch screens. The touch screens alone would be enough to pique the interest of many music addicts, but Vizio has taken things one step further by powering these speakers with Android. That’s right, these have been dubbed “portable smart audio,” as they’ll be running Android 4.4 KitKat.
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With Wi-Fi 802.11n functionality, the clear advantage here is that you won’t always need to connect a smartphone or tablet through Bluetooth in order to listen to music. The fact that the speakers themselves will be running Android means you’ll have access to Google Play services while connected to Wi-Fi, so you can stream your music library from the cloud. Let’s not forget that the Android OS and touch screen also make these speakers compatible with most apps you’ll find on the Google Play Store, so yes, you can use them to stream movies and TV shows through apps like Netflix and Hulu.
For times when you’re away from a Wi-Fi connection, you’re still not limited to streaming through Bluetooth. The speakers come equipped with some amount of on-board memory – Vizio didn’t say how much, precisely – meaning you can store music and listen to it when you don’t have an Internet connection. While we’re not sure how much memory the two announced models will ship with, the included USB port will allow users to store extra music on a flash drive and play it through the speakers. Barring all of that, you can still connect your phone or tablet through Bluetooth and stream music that way.
Unfortunately, Vizio doesn’t really get into the audio hardware that makes these speakers worthy of your attention. The company does say that they feature “integrated deep bass modules for low-frequency fidelity,” but that’s seems to be all we’re going to get for the moment. Vizio will be offering two versions of its portable smart audio speakers: one that features a 4.7-inch touch screen, and another that sports a 7-inch panel. The 7-inch model will come with a handle, while both are equipped with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Vizio has yet to tell us how much they’ll cost or when they’ll be available for purchase, so there’s still plenty left to find out about these speakers. Stay tuned.