Panasonic points: Connected TV, tablets and 3D
LAS VEGAS -- Panasonic would like your next TV to be a 3D model. It's all but ensuring that it will be a "connected" model that can access Web content in app-size chunks.
For 2011, the Japanese firm is renaming its Viera Cast feature to Viera Connect and adding an app store, the Viera Connect Market. You'll be able to choose from a much wider variety of data sources, going beyond the usual Web-video sources (Amazon, Netflix, Hulu Plus) to include online subscription services from four of the five big leagues (MLB, the NBA, the NHL and MLS but not the NFL). You'll also be able to connect devices in your house, such as Withings' networked WiFi scale.
(That last item is a real product, I assure you.)
Panasonic, like Sony, is a big believer in 3D TV and so has a large portion of its massive exhibit area given over to displays of the technology at work.
But it recognizes that it has not quite closed the deal with the public. Chief technology officer Eisuke Tsuyuzaki allowed that the industry may have had "an overemphasis on 3D" at last year's show but said things were moving along well. "It's not a bad progress if you ask me."
Along with 3D sets and Blu-ray players (one of which can convert 2D video to 3D automatically), Panasonic will be bringing a 3D camcorder to the market in February or March at an unannounced price. It's also showing off a 3D lens that attaches to some of its digital-SLR cameras.
Like many other companies, Panasonic has some tablets coming. Its Viera Tablet comes in 4- , 7- and 10-inch screen sizes and runs the 2.2 version (not the latest) of Google's Android operating system. These thick devices look positively chunky compared with other tablets, but they do offer an interesting TV tie-in: You can push a video clip you're viewing from the device to a compatible Panasonic set by flicking it up off the screen.
One thing that's hard to find at Panasonic's booth: Any trace of the projects it launched with Comcast at CES in 2008 to integrate digital-cable compatibility into such products as TVs and digital video recorders. Tsuyuzaki did not sound optimistic about the prospects for getting the cable box out of cable TV, noting how the existing rental model seems to work pretty well for cable companies: "These are technology issues but the real issue is business."
| January 6, 2011; 5:07 PM ET
Categories: CES 2011, Internet TV, TV, Tablets
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