TV and soundbar maker Vizio today announced that the Viziogram feature for its 4K TVs is now available for all users. Previously, Viziogram was in a Beta program and required user registration. Now, all that’s required to get up and running with it is to download the Viziogram iOS or Android app to your phone and create a Vizio account.
What is Viziogram? It’s a platform for sending photos or videos from your phone directly to a TV. Viewers receive an on-screen notification upon receipt, and they can instantly display the photo or video, or save it for later viewing.
You might be wondering if the feature works on all of the best 4K TVs, or just Vizio ones, and the answer is just Vizio smart TVs – both new models and select sets dating back to 2020. You don’t have to own a Vizio TV to send Viziograms, but the recipient does, and they also need to have signed up for a Vizio account and agreed to your “friend” invitation (boy, that process sounds familiar) to receive pictures and videos that you send.
Vizio’s inspiration for the feature came from company founder William Wang, who wanted to share “moments with my mom, directly to her living room.” Clearly, a main use case for Viziogram is sharing pics and vids with an elderly parent or relative, someone who may not be as tech savvy or “online” as younger generations.
According to Vizio, the process uses end-to-end encryption, so “photos and videos stay private, secure, and visible only to those recipients.” The photos remain in your library in the Viziogram smart TV app for 7 days after viewing and are then automatically deleted. As for any unviewed photos, they'll remain for 30 days before expiring. Users can send up to 10 photos at a time in one Viziogram, or up to 70 seconds of video.
The new feature, which is automatically rolling out to compatible Vizio TVs, is part of the company’s auto update program, which is meant to add value to its sets by continually making the SmartCast user interface “smarter.”
Other new auto updates for 2023 include a Recent Apps row that presents the viewer’s regularly used smart TV apps in a horizontal bar in the SmartCast interface; a Quick Menu that pops up in a compact area onscreen and offers a list of high-level TV settings; and WatchFree+, a cable TV-like EPG that displays all programs in Vizio’s WatchFree+ ad-supported free TV portal.
Analysis: TVs are the new smartphones – or are they?
There’s no shortage of ways to view photos on a smart TV. The Roku platform has its PhotoStream app, Google TV has Google Photos, and viewers with an Apple TV 4K can not just access their Apple Photos library, but invite other family members to contribute pics to shared albums.
Casting is another easy way to view photos on your TV, with various smart platforms allowing you to wirelessly stream photos or video from your phone via Chromecast or AirPlay. Vizio’s TVs feature both Chromecast built-in and AirPlay 2 support, which lets viewers cast content to the company’s TVs. So what's up with this Viziogram feature?
When I reviewed a Vizio M-Series QX TV in 2022, one feature I found lacking was some type of screensaver to display art. New TVs from Samsung and LG provide ambient modes that let the set transform into a picture frame when not in use, display a single image, or a sequence of stored images. And the built-in photo apps in the Google TV and Roku platforms mentioned above offer similar slideshow functionality.
Vizio’s new Viziogram feature is nothing like those, but more of a social media type application – a private Instagram for TVs. Hearing about it reminded me of a time many years ago when social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter actually did have smart TV apps. (Facebook still has an active Facebook Watch app that lets you stream Facebook video content directly to a TV, though they will be ending support for it in early 2023.)
Do you need a private Instagram for your TV? Sending pictures to parents or relatives so they can view them on the big screen does indeed sound like a perfect application for the feature. It would also encourage people to buy Vizio TVs for their parents – something I’m sure the company was mindful of. As the latest addition to the company’s series of auto updates, it’s certainly a smart one, even if most people will be perfectly happy just casting photos to their TV from their phone.
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Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine.
When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.