Vizio Co-Star Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

It's been nearly two years since Google unveiled its flop of a streaming media player, the Logitech Revue. After a lengthy hiatus from the spotlight, Google TV is back to take the stage. Its lead actor? The ironically-named Vizio Coaster Co-Star.

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Edit Step 1 Vizio Co-Star Teardown  ¶ 

  • Providing the market with a $99 answer to the Apple TV (also $99), the Vizio Co-Star brings a refreshing reincarnation of Google TV to the world of set-top boxes.

  • Notable tech specs:

    • Google TV platform

    • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled

    • Hot buttons for Amazon, Netflix, and M-Go

    • 720p, 1080i, and 1080p resolution support

    • MP3, AAC, and WMA audio playback

    • Universal QWERTY remote with trackpad

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • The rear side of the Vizio Co-Star includes an impressive lineup:

    • USB 2.0 port

    • HDMI-In port

    • HDMI-Out port

    • Ethernet port

    • DC-In Power port

  • On the bottom we see the reset switch and four suspicious-looking rubber feet.

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • A little prying around the edge with a plastic opening tool, and we've got the bottom panel free.

  • Comparatively speaking, the Apple TV required two metal spudgers to open, as opposed to a single plastic opening tool here. No need to split hairs; they're both easy to open up, and we love it.

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • We pull off what looks like an EMI shield only to find a thermal pad sitting on top of a sea of small resistors.

  • It's not often that we encounter cooling for the back side of a motherboard, but Vizio took extra precautions as this Co-Star has no fans.

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • The only thing standing between us and the motherboard are some screws and two connectors. Say hello to our little friend!

  • For those of you tuning in at home, a grand total of five screws and two cables must be removed once inside the device to free the motherboard. That's going to give the Co-Star a nice ratings boost.

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • And here comes the Co-Star's motherboard strolling down the red carpet:

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • We're used to the innards of devices being dominated by a single component, but those space hogs are usually batteries or power supplies.

    • Over a third of the real estate in the Co-Star is inhabited by the aluminum heat sink.

  • You may be asking yourself why the Co-Star has such a huge heat sink?

  • The answer lies in air movement. Without fans to circulate air, there is no forced convection. Therefore, the Co-Star must rely on conduction and natural convection to keep the processor cool.

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • We remove an additional board to reveal a whole lot of nothin' underneath.

  • The board houses the USB port and, well, nothing else.

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • We use our always-trusty spudger to disconnect the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi antenna cables from the wireless board.

  • A Marvell Avastar 88W8787 WLAN/Bluetooth/FM Single-Chip SoC brings life to what would otherwise be a very bland and boring board.

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • A plastic opening tool and a steady hand are all we need to separate the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi antennas from the Co-Star's lower case.

  • This antenna cable is too short.

  • This antenna cable is too long.

  • This antenna cable is just right!

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • That's pretty much it for the Co-Star, but we do like to do a thorough teardown here at iFixit, so we took a quick look at this flashy silver bezel. It sadly revealed nothing more than a flashy silver bezel.

  • Modders, take note: the bezel comes off easily and would probably look pretty slick when painted neon green.

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • Just like the Boxee Box, the Co-Star comes with a neat two-sided remote.

  • Unlike the Boxee Box though, this Vizio controller is universal and features a touch-sensitive trackpad. Point, Co-Star.

  • As a finishing touch, the Co-Star remote has ABXY buttons and a directional pad for OnLive gaming. Not only is that an incredibly unique feature, it gets us all nostalgic and stuff.

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • The battery tray comes right out, but this isn't much of a surprise. How often did you try to "fix" your TV remote by pulling out the old batteries and just switching them around?

  • A pair of AA batteries were included for the remote. That's a legitimate selling point right there.

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • Here's another opportunity for the modders out there. How cool would it be to have a neon green keyboard bezel to match your Co-Star?

  • Whether you're painting it or not, the bezel pries off the keyboard quite easily.

  • Following suit, the rubber button cover peels off without a problem.

    • Since the button cover and the bezel are the components that usually get the dirtiest, it's great they are easy to remove.

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Edit Step 15  ¶ 

  • Buttons on both sides mean lots of data transfer. Luckily, the data cable slides out from connectors on both PCBs.

  • The Co-Star's remote looks to be as easy to take apart as the media player itself.

    • Once again, this isn't really a surprise. Remotes, unlike smartphones or laptops, aren't subject to strict space constraints.

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Edit Step 16  ¶ 

  • The keyboard backer sports a couple of ICs:

    • Maxim MAXQ610 16-bit Microcontroller with Infrared Module

    • Broadcom BCM20733 Human Interface Device Bluetooth 3.0 single chip

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Edit Step 17  ¶ 

  • A few Phillips #0 screws and some prying and the lower case of the remote is gone. See ya!

  • With the case removed, we learn the screws were pulling double duty and holding the motherboard in place.

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Edit Step 18  ¶ 

  • Yoink!

  • We grab a handy pair of tweezers and gently pluck out the trackpad data cable before removing the other board.

  • This board is powered by a Renesas R5F2133 16-bit microcontroller.

  • No flash photography, please, but this PCB does host the two IR blasters, with one conveniently on the side for the QWERTY keyboard.

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Edit Step 19  ¶ 

  • Peeling back the remote's keypad is as easy as peeling a banana. Underneath is the capacitive touch trackpad.

  • A lot of strong adhesive is used to hold this board in place.

    • If this comes loose, your movie night will be gone with the wind, hence the generous amount of adhesive.

  • Excess adhesive usually doesn't get in our way. With a little bit of patience, our iFixit guitar picks, and a spudger, we free the trackpad from the frame.

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Edit Step 20  ¶ 

  • The trackpad is controlled by the popular Synaptics T1021A Touch Controller, also used in the Logitech Revue.

  • Which reminds us, it's time to revue the Vizio Co-Star's repairability.

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Edit Step 21  ¶ 

  • Vizio Co-Star Repairability: 8 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)

    • The outer case only requires a little bit of prying with a plastic opening tool to open.

    • The only screws used in the Co-Star are standard Phillips #0.

    • Most of the components are easily accessible and thus easily replaced in case of failure.

    • Removing the remote's QWERTY keypad is painless, making regular cleaning a relatively simple task.

    • An abundance of glue securing the trackpad to the front of the remote makes removal difficult.

Required Tools

Spudger

$2.95 · 50+ In stock

Phillips #00 Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock

Tweezers

$6.95 · 50+ In stock

Plastic Opening Tools

$2.95 · 50+ In stock

iFixit Opening Picks set of 6

$4.95 · 50+ In stock

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Comments Comments are onturn off

I have an inquiry not so much related to fixing procedures but to functionality. The important question for me is, if it is compatible with Apple Mountain Lion-based computer equipment? I had a Western Digital WDTV Live Plus I recently sold on auction because Apple mucked around with the network layer stack, or some unfamiliar jargon like that as explain a while back by WD support staff. Other then that, if the Vizio Co-Star does functionally work similar to an Apple TV, but provides greater connectivity in home network with Apple computers and more versatility in video codec playback I may want to get one of these.

Thanks for the guide teardown. You folks do a terrific job at ifixit.

jsmatrix, · Reply

The RAM specs are quite confusing - 2GB x 4 for a total of 1GB?

Dan Scott, · Reply

The chips are 2 gigabits (Gb) each, and there are 8 gigabits to a gigabyte (GB).

Andrew Optimus Goldberg,

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