Panasonic entertains with Viera tablet

CES 2011: Panasonic previewed its first tablet at CES today, a device the company says will work hand in hand with the company’s HDTVs and forthcoming cloud-based services, including streaming e-books and ‘Viera Connect’ video on-demand content and apps.

An Android-based touchscreen, the Viera tablet will be available in sizes from 4 to 10 inches and is expected to go on sale in the US from April. Panasonic is pitching it as a complementary device to the TV, saying it will allow users to transfer content between the TV and the tablet, view the same content from different angles, as well as perform as a remote control for TVs and home entertainment equipment. Like all tablet devices, it will also allow users to interact with social networking services and shop online while watching TV.

Viera Connect is the new name for ‘Viera Cast’, the IPTV functionality that has been built into many of Panasonic’s TVs, Blu-ray players and home theatre systems over the last two years. In the US, Viera Connect integrates streaming video, apps and services, including Netflix, Amazon VOD, You Tube, Pandora internet radio, Twitter, Bloomberg News, Skype, CinemaNow, Hulu Plus, Napster, Facebook and popular US sports sites.

In Australia, the services currently available via Viera Cast products are considerably less compelling, being limited to YouTube and catch-up TV from Channel 7 via Yahoo. Locally, Panasonic will need to pursue a stronger content offering if its Viera Connect products are to compete meaningfully against Sony and its forthcoming Google TV models, and Samsung and LG, which are partnered with BigPond for movies, music and TV.