Panasonic’s proprietary technology has put it slightly behind the curve when it comes to Internet-enabled TVs and Blu-ray players. But the company had some exciting additions to its VieraCast service at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.
For the large part, existing owners of Panny’s existing connected devices will be able to enjoy the new services – including Twitter, Pandora and Fox Sports. But they’re out of luck when it comes to Netflix and Skype.
We first mentioned Netflix wouldn’t be available to existing VieraCast devices in early January. In a press event held yesterday, Panasonic officials explained the service couldn’t be included in existing sets via a firmware upgrade because it requires software to be built into new circuitry in order for it to work. http://weblogs.variety.com/technotainment/2010/01/panasonicnetflix-partnership-has-a-hitch.html
That’s possible – but given how easily Microsoft was able to integrate the service, it’s not a reason that’s going to satisfy existing VieraCast owners.
Meanwhile, current users will also be unable to take advantage of the company’s new relationship with Skype. This one’s a bit more understandable, though, as the camera allowing video calls will require a USB port – something existing sets don’t have.
(Another note: Because the company is once again using proprietary technology, users who want to use Skype will need to buy the Panasonic camera, which will sell in the $200 range. No third party cameras will work with VieraCast.)
Not all the news was bad for existing owners, though. Panasonic officials say they expect to announce more VieraCast partners later this year.
And if you’ve been salivating over the 3D sets announced in January- Panasonic says those will be commercially available in May.