Panasonic Releases Internet-Enabled Plasmas

Though they're a little late on their intended release date, Panasonic has finally delivered the Viera (PZ850) series of plasma televisions, which will have some basic Internet functions baked in.

Though they're a little late on their intended release date, Panasonic has finally delivered the Viera (PZ850) series of plasma televisions, which will have some basic Internet functions baked in. Two, to be precise: the TVs will have YouTube support, so you can review all the latest election-season gaffes on the big screen (though not in 1080p). And while the Viera plasmas are not the first televisions to have a YouTube interface, they will be the first to have connectivity to Google's Picasa picture service, which will allow users to browse photo albums online via an ethernet connection. The interface that Panasonic has included is called Viera Cast, and its dashboard-like home screen also features weather reports and Bloomberg quote tickers. Panasonic has hinted at expanding the capability of Viera Cast with more partners in the future.

Mike Horowitz, product manager for Picasa Web Albums at Google, described the role of the Internet-enabled TV in the home thusly: “Consumers can put their favorite photos on the web and enjoy them with friends and family on a large screen from the comfort of their couches.” That sounds exciting, but it comes at a pretty significant price, no matter which of the four price-points and size selections you opt for: 46-inch for $3,100, 50-inch for $3,500, 58-inch for $4,300 and $8,000 for a 65-inch version.

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