Good news, bad news for Panasonic VieraCast owners

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.Vieracast  

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

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.

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. 

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