Panasonic’s new IPTVs get smart… kinda

Panasonic announced its 2011 audio-video range, with all 26 of its new Viera plasma, LED and LCD TVs featuring IPTV services, and 16 models offering 3D. New to select models is 2D-3D conversion of TV broadcasts and video from connected devices, the ability to increase or decrease the level of 3D effect in a programming, a new range of four lighter, better-fitting and quicker-charging active shutter glasses, and the appearance of 3D in LED LCD televisions for the first time.

All IPTV models are grouped under the company’s Smart TV platform, but unlike other brands using the moniker, these do not come with an open web browser for unfettered access to the content riches of the web. You are still very much restricted to the walled garden of content provided by Panasonic.

This is divided into two tiers of IPTV, neither of which includes the streaming movie rental services or dedicated IPTV channels offered by the likes of Sony, Samsung and LG. Panasonic says it is working on new content partnerships, which will come online in the future.

The full service Viera Connect IPTV option offers ABC iView, Yahoo7 catch-up TV, internet radio, some gaming and fitness apps from the company’s app store (Viera Connect Market), plus the usual Facebook, Twitter and Facebook. These are available on the VT30, GT30 and ST30 plasma series televisions, the DT30 LCD series and E30 LED models.

Skype functionality has been improved and now includes video messages.

The stripped down version provided on budget models from the U30 (full HD) and X30 (HD) plasma, E3 LEDs and U30 LCD comprises Facebook and ShoutCast internet radio only.

Panasonic has improved functionality in its Skype-capable televisions, which now come with a video answering machine service. This allows missed calls and personalised voice or video answer messages to be recorded to an attached USB hard drive or SD card. Missed calls can then be played back directly from the media.

Panasonic's new DMR-BWT800 3D Blu-ray player with built-in hard drive.

Other notable highlights include a 3D Blu-ray player (DMR-BWT800) with one terabyte of built-in hard drive storage for recording for more 600 hours of HD and 3D broadcasts, Blu-ray players and home theatre systems with 2D-3D conversion and IPTV features, and an audio system (SC-HC55DB) with DAB+, CD playback and iPod docking that – with front panels that slide open and close as you wave your hand in front of them – heavily references the design of Bang & Olufsen’s BeoSound 3200.