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Panasonic Ships, Activates Skype HDTVs

5/18/2010 02:07:04 PM Eastern
Secaucus, N.J. - Panasonic said Tuesday that it is now selling Skype communication cameras and has activated the service's video-conferencing system for select 2010 Viera Cast-enabled HDTVs.

Panasonic also announced a promotion offering two free 3D Blu-ray Disc titles with the purchase of one of its VT25-series 3D plasma HDTVs.

The collaboration with Skype was first announced at International CES in January. A special video-conferencing camera for the service, model TY-CC10W, is sold as an accessory item at a $170 suggested retail, Panasonic said.

The system delivers the following capabilities:

  •   free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls;

  • calls to landline or mobile phone at Skype's low rates;

  •   the option to receive inbound calls via a user's online Skype number;

  •   Skype voicemail (set-up required); and

  • ability to be invited to participate in voice-conference calls with up to 24 other parties

Skype-compatible Viera plasma HDTVs include models in the VT25, VT20, G25 and G20 series. Using the system, set owners can make voice and video calls to family members and friends from their living rooms directly through the connected TV.

"Adding Skype to Panasonic's Viera Cast IPTV offerings takes the role of the television to whole new level for consumers," said Henry Hauser, Panasonic display group VP. "Panasonic's Viera Cast-enabled HDTVs have truly become the hub of communication and connectivity in the consumer household, enabling users to talk live via video to their family and friends right from the comfort of their couch."

The launch will be supported as part of Panasonic's new Viera HDTV advertising campaign, which will include national TV spots, Panasonic said, which are scheduled to begin in early June on local network TV, national cable TV and DirecTV.

Skype currently lists more than 560 million registered users, and offers free voice and video calling for people on Skype around the world. Calling on Skype now accounts for 12 percent of the world's international calling minutes according to TeleGeography.

On Viera TVs, Skype video calling is offered in HD at up to 1,280 by 720 resolution and at a maximum frame rate of 22 fps. Skype-enabled sets also include Viera Cast IPTV services and graphical user interface.

The TY-CC10W Skype-enabled camera is said to be the only camera enabling access to Skype calling on Viera TVs. The camera features four unidirectional microphones, echo-canceling system, and audio processing for collecting voices in the living room environment. The camera also features beam-forming technology to record clear audio over typical TV viewing distances of 3 meters to 4 meters.

The camera plugs in to Viera Cast-enabled TVs via a USB port.

The Skype news followed Panasonic's announcement on Monday that between May 16 and July 10 it is offering purchasers of Panasonic Viera VT25 FullHD 3D plasma TVs 3D Blu-ray Discs of Universal Studios' "Coraline" and 20th Century Fox's "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" via a mail-in coupon.

Complete details on the offer are available on the Panasonic Web site.

Both 3D titles were authored by the Compression and Authoring Center of Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory.

Viera VT25 series plasma sets in the 50- ($2,600 suggested retail) and 54-inch ($3,000) screen sizes are available in stores now. Models in the 58- ($3,400) and 65-inch ($4,300) screen sizes will be available in June. All ship with one pair of Panasonic 3D active-shutter lens eyewear (TY-EW3D10U).
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