Company also opening an app store, Viera Connect

Panasonic is opening an app store – and launching a tablet.

The company announced plans Wednesday to transform its VieraCast service, which embedded a limited number of apps on select HDTVs, into Viera Connect – a market that will welcome apps from a larger pool of developers.

Panasonic, which has been criticized in the past for its proprietary app system, announced plans to open the platform to developers and let consumers pick and choose which services they’d like to have on their TVs.

Early partners with the new service, which will launch during the first half of this year, include Hulu Plus, MLB TV, MLS, Facebook, Twitter, Ustream and Body Media.

Beyond the TV, Panasonic also announced plans to launch an Android-based tablet computer, which will have access to a variety of cloud-based services. The company did not announce a release date or pricing information.

Panasonic continues to bet big on 3D, announcing that it would be adding the technology to its LCD line (a 32″ and 37″ model, both geared toward gamers) and adding five new 3D camcorders, including one that is right around the $1,000 price point.

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