Vizio has announced that it is rolling out a complete overhaul of its smart TV interface, and from what we've seen it both looks and works very much like one of the best streaming services, including Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV Plus and the like.
The new Vizio home screen is called the Vizio Home Screen (imagine being a fly on the wall at the meeting where they came up with that) and it's being gradually released as part of a software update from today.
It plans to update all its TVs that run on the SmartCast operating system, which means it'll be available to some quite old models – some as old as 2016 (like the Vizio SmartCast M-Series), which is an eternity in TV tech. But the new menu will also be available on sets like the Vizio D32h-D1, which we consider to be on the best 32-inch TVs.
What's new in the Vizio Home Screen?
I really like the new sleek home screen because it sticks with the conventions we expect from streaming apps. You've got the vertical column of icons at the left hand edge so you can navigate between search, your to-view list and other key features, and then there's the trending shows and movies in the main section. Below that you have your various apps and inputs, so you can quickly switch to the likes of Hulu, Netflix or YouTube TV.
As much as I'm all for innovation, sometimes you just want to flop down on the couch and stream something. There's a reason why TV remotes, music apps and toaster ovens all tend to have similar controls. And I think the same applies to smart TV interfaces. My kids have learnt some pretty bad words from me accidentally getting into my smart TV's horrible interface instead of the Apple TV it's connected to.
And there are still more features here if you want them. The various broadcasting tools currently in Vizio's SmartCast, such as AirPlay streaming, are still here. And existing features have been made better. For instance, the on-screen keyboard is much easier to use, the app catalog is much simpler to navigate and the overall process is a whole lot more streamlined to discover the best TV shows and best movies.
I think this is a wise, and maybe a little overdue, move. Vizio operates in an incredibly crowded and competitive sector, and that means your software needs to be as good as your hardware. This new interface will make new Vizio TVs a lot more attractive, and it's a nice improvement for existing owners too. If you have one of the compatible Vizio TVs, you should get the new interface in the next few weeks.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.