For Panasonic, as for many other manufacturers at this year’s CES, it seems that connected TVs are the way forward and following the implementation of its Viera Cast in 2008, it has rebranded and updated its IPTV calling it Viera Connect.
Viera Connect is an expanded version of Viera Cast and will be available on all Viera HDTVs in 2011. According to Panasonic it will bring consumer choice to a new level by giving them access to the Viera Connect Market, a service which allows consumers to personalise their experience via apps from third-party application developers. Apps for Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Hulu and UStream were all on display at the press conference today.
Expanded live video streaming, gaming, social networking and fitness apps, all optimized for display on Viera HDTVs, will be among the options available to Connect users. Interestingly Connect will be an open IPTV platform with its SDK/API available to application developers and its Middleware technology available to connected device manufacturers.
While the new Connect does look good, most of the crowd’s attention was drawn to Shiro Kitajima, President of Panasonic, when he pulled a Viera Tablet from the inside pocket of his suit jacket on stage. Not many were expecting this and we’re still not sure exactly how it is going to work. Panasonic say the Android-based tablet is its first step to allow access a “variety of cloud based services”, including video streaming and ebooks. It can be used as a visual remote control in conjunction with a Viera TV; to view sports scenes from different angles; communicate via social network sites or to order items you see on TV directly from you armchair. The tablet, which will be available sometime in 2011, will come in various sizes from 4in to 10in screens. We hope to get our hands on the tablet in the coming days to get you more information.
In other news at the press conference, Panasonic reconfirmed its commitment to 3D with the announcement of 14 new 3D HDTVs for 2011 including for the first time two LCD-LED 3D TVs to join its plasma range of 3D enabled sets. As well as the 14 TVs in the 3D range, Panasonic announced 18 more Plasma, LED-LCD and LCD HDTVs bringing the total of new sets for 2011 to 32, so there should be enough choice for even the pickiest of viewers.
In addition to the new range of 3D TVs, the viewing experience on them will also be enhanced, according to Panasonic, who promises crisper 3D, deeper black 3D pictures, brighter images and on average 25 percent reduced power consumption. Panasonic said it expects 3D will gain momentum and grow rapidly over next three years predicting that it could represent 32 percent of total TV sales world wide in 2014.
In 2010 Panasonic introduced the first consumer 3D camcorder and this year will add five new 3D camcorder models. And while Panasonic said it wanted to make them more affordable and easy for consumer, the lowest priced camcorder will just scrape in at under $1,000.
No doubt over 2011 we will get a chance to see and review all these new devices, but we will be looking to get some hands-on time over the coming days to get you even closer to the products.