Vizio is an American company that designs and sells TVs, sound bars, and other related surround sound systems. The company was also known to collect viewer data and engage in advertising. By 2007, Vizio was identified as the largest LCD TV seller in North America.
Most modern Vizio TVs (year models 2016 and onwards) work under the SmartCast operating system. It allows users to operate the TV using a portable device, like a phone or tablet. SmartCast supports major streaming devices like Apple AirPlay and Google Chromecast.
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Vizio was founded in 2002 as V Inc. by Taiwanese entrepreneur William Wang and two other employees. Its name was later on changed to Vizio in 2004. The company mainly sold HDTVs at a lower cost compared to its competitors.
By 2009, it stopped selling plasma-based televisions and focused more on LED-backlit and LED displays. Most Vizio products (TVs and soundbars) are manufactured in various countries such as Mexico, China, and Vietnam. The company was known to be the second largest seller of flat-screen TVs in the United States in 2020.
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SmartCast TVs (2016)
In 2016, Vizio released the first models of SmartCast TVs. Besides control by portable devices via the Vizio mobile app, it also had pre-installed streaming apps on the screen, such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, and others.
Vizio continuously added features to their SmartCast TVs in the following years. It included support for smart assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa, Apple Airplay2, Apple HomeKit, and gaming support.
Vizio’s line of sound bars is divided into various series, namely M-Series, V-Series, and Elevate. Series names are linked to suggested Vizio TV products.
The first major sound bar released by Vizio was the Home Theater Sound Bar, launched in 2013. Five years later, it released sound bar models that supported Dolby Atmos. By 2020, the first Elevate sound bar was released. It’s known for its rotating speakers with Dolby Atmos support.
Despite its success, Vizio has its share of controversies. In November 2015, Vizio was charged by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Office of the New Jersey Attorney General for illegally collecting non-personal information on its customers, which was sold to its advertisers.
By 2017, Vizio agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle the charges. It also required the company to delete all retrieved customer data and update its data collection policies.
In October 2021, the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) filed a lawsuit against Vizio for failing to complete the requirements of the GNU General Public License since it failed to provide its source code. As of May 2022, the lawsuit by the SFC is still ongoing.