By Patrick Avenell
Panasonic Australia’s 2013 AV range is focused on the almost 70 per cent of households still using ‘dumb’ TVs, rather than more connected, more functional Smart TVs.
Unlike Tier 1 rivals Sony, LG and Samsung, Panasonic is not emphasising Ultra HD technology, preferring to target potential IPTV enthusiasts with its new My Home Screen platform.
Controlled by the new Viera Remote Control, which has both touch and voice input, My Home Screen can detect the faces of users to automatically load their selected preferences. This is ideal for families where Dad wants to immediately access catch-up TV services, such as ABC iView, and the kids want to instantly update Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
My Home Screen is the most visible interface of Panasonic’s updated Viera Connect operating system. Much like a smartphone’s OS, users can download and install apps to Viera Connect. The higher end models in the range come standard with a Skype camera for face detection and video calling — this camera is an optional accessory at the entry levels.
To combine watching TV with sourcing information from the internet, Panasonic has several watching modes, including the normal full screen, Info Screen and a Lifestyle Screen. This allows for users to, for example, follow and post to Twitter while watching Q&A on the ABC or check the scores from other matches while watching the Premier League live on Fox Sports.
In addition to social media and catch-up TV, apps are available for news, weather, games and integration with other Panasonic products, such as cameras and camcorders. To improve functionality, users can search for apps on their smartphone or tablet and then download their selections to the TV. This avoids having to navigate through the TV’s menu with a remote control — a generally tedious task.
Panasonic has provided a list of apps available, including social apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype as well as other big names such as BigPond Movies and BigPond TV, QuickFlix, SBS OnDemand and ABC for Kids.
Smart Viera also includes ‘Swipe and Share’, which works through an app for iOS and Android, to seamlessly broadcast images, video and audio from a tablet or smartphone. There is also an app to convert a smartphone or tablet into a remote control for the TV.
“Last year we introduced some great new features to our Smart TVs and this year we’ve made Smart easy,” said Panasonic group manager, Matt Pearce.
Panasonic will release 25 new Viera panels in 2013: 6 plasma and 19 LED LCD.
List of available apps (provided by Panasonic):
-BigPond Movies and BigPond TV
-MLB TV (Major League Baseball)
-ABC For Kids
Matt Pearce demonstrating Panasonic’s new Smart TV range.