Can Vizio Save Google TV?

Vizio announced a new line of tablet and mobile devices running Google’s (s GOOG) Android operating system that will enable its users to watch programming across multiple platforms. But lost in that noise was the news that Vizio would be rolling out a new line of products that will run Google TV, the search giant’s beleaguered television operating system.

Despite launching with a great deal of fanfare, Google TV products from Sony (s SNE) and Logitech (s LOGI) have been dismissed by critics as not quite being ready for primetime, and the platform has struggled for consumer adoption. As a result, rumors have surfaced that Google has asked CE partners to hold back announcements of their own Google TV-powered devices until it improves on the user experience with an update.

But Vizio is moving forward with its embrace of Google TV, introducing new products running the platform and tying those products in with an extended mobile and tablet initiative. That’s good news for Google TV, as it gets a new lifeline of connected TVs for consumers to choose from, and also will get a boost from the consumer electronics manufacturer’s wide distribution. For HDTV shipments, Vizio has been jostling with Samsung for the No. 1 position in terms of market share, as distribution partners like Walmart (s WMT) and Amazon (s AMZN) help it get access to consumer living rooms.

One of the big knocks against initial Google TV devices was the price tag: Sony and Logitech sold their products at a premium over other connected devices due in part to the high cost of materials necessary for running the operating system. But Vizio has a reputation for creating low-cost, high-quality HDTVs, so its Google TV-powered products could be more affordable than those currently on the market.

But the big advantage Vizio might have in getting consumers excited about Google TV is an ecosystem of new mobile and tablet devices that extend consumer viewing beyond the TV. Device integration could add new value to consumers who buy its TVs and upcoming mobile products. Even so, Vizio might have some difficulty in getting consumers to buy multiple devices of its own that work together, as customer loyalty among most CE manufacturers is typically pretty low.

For Google TV, though, new products by Vizio show increased interest in combining TV and Internet services by CE manufacturers. Whether Vizio’s distribution and new mobile and tablet devices will get consumers on board is still up for debate.

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