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Viera Cast Spreads Through Panasonic Line

Panasonic will expand its stake to the Blu-ray Disc market at International CES by unveiling industry first Blu-ray players including a Blu-ray/VHS combo deck and portable Blu-ray player, and will expand its Viera flat-panel assortment with new Ultra-thin plasma models and expanded LCD TV offerings.

In addition, the company’s Viera Cast technology, which was first introduced in 2008 high-end PZ850 series plasma models to allow direct access through the TV to Internet-distributed audio/video content, will be expanded to more TV models and even BD-Live-enabled Blu-ray players this year, the company said.

Viera Cast provides access to a handful of popular content sites including YouTube, Google’s Picasa Web Album and Bloomberg business news.

Panasonic will add Viera Cast to several BD-Live enabled Blu-ray Disc players slated to ship later this year.

These includes DMP-BD60 Blu-ray player with BD-Live functionality, SD card slot and newly added USB port, 7.1-channel lossless audio decoding, 24p Cinema Mode and the Viera Link (HDMI-CEC) connected system interoperability using one remote.

Viera Cast will also appear in the DMP-BD80 BD-Live Blu-ray player, which adds a PHL Reference Chroma processor to the DB60 package.

It will also be found in the DMP-BD70V Blu-ray Disc/VHS combo player, which carries a loaded feature package including Viera Cast, BD-Live functionality, SD card and USB slots, PHL reference Chroma plus processing, 24p Cinema mode, Viera Link and built-in 7.1-channel lossless audio decoding.

The company said it was planning to show one of the industry’s first portable Blu-ray Disc players as well, although feature information was not available as this went to press.

Pricing and availability dates for the company’s CES introductions were also unavailable.

In new Viera flat-panel offerings, Panasonic will offer four LCD TV models featuring an “iPod Entertainment kit.”

Two step-up LCD models — the TC-32G1 and TC-37G1 — will offer 1080p resolution and 120Hz frame-rate technology to reduce motion blurring, the company said.

The aforementioned Viera Cast function will also spread through the 2009 plasma line to include four series, including the G10, G15, V10 and flagship Z1.

The Z1 series will introduce a new 54-inch plasma screen size for the company, and has wireless connectivity capabilities and an “ultra thin” (under two-inch thick) panel depth.

Panasonic is also introducing models with the company’s new NEO PDP technology that results in a higher contrast ratio (40,000:1) and brighter panel (double luminance efficiency) with significantly lower power consumption.