Google TV's initial struggles are long behind it, and some noteworthy device makers are stepping up up to the plate. One of these is Vizio, which announced pre-orders for its new Co-Star Stream Player VAP430 at $99.99. That's a much better price than we've seen from some earlier Google TV devices, and it puts the Co-Star in the same galaxy as the Roku, price-wise. The Co-Star is expected to ship August 14th and, as of this writing, Vizio is sweetening the deal with free shipping.
As we reported last month, the Vizio Co-Star is a do-everything set-top box. (well, almost everything. It doesn't have a Blu-ray drive.) The device makes your plain-old HDTV an Internet-connected TV (via Ethernet or Wi-Fi) so you can enjoy Google TV, surf the Web, and even game via OnLive. It can also connect your cable or satellite box (for control from one remote) and a keyboard via the HDMI and USB ports on the back.
Although the Co-Star's little set-top box is Roku-like in size and shape, its remote is nothing like the more-established device's control. A full QWERTY keyboard, a number pad, and a touchpad are all on the new Co-Star remote. Interestingly, the remote also has buttons for Netflix and other popular channels. Of course, you don't need to use the included remote at all, as the Google TV app for you smartphone or tablet can also control your Google TV.