Panasonic VIERA Launch - Stepping into the 3D World

VIERA Cast and Plasma Display Panels

Finally, VIERA Cast On VIERAs

While foreign VIERA models in the States and Europe were already sanctified with VIERA Cast and networking perks, consumers here in Asia finally have a chance to own the same. Besides YouTube and Picasa widgets, VIERA Cast also gives users the opportunity to Skype with an optional camera on the big screen. Aside from that, online feeds such as stock market information, weather forecasts and global news are readily available on VIERA Cast as well. Additionally, the new displays are also decked with DLNA for wireless multimedia playback. Other notable new features include a USB port which allows you to hook up a USB keyboard or Flash-based devices. For wireless connectivity, you'll need to plug in a USB Wi-Fi dongle since this isn't an integrated feature. 

Panasonic's VIERA Cast Internet element has been a long time coming. Having been introduced in the States previously, Asian consumers can finally access Internet content such as YouTube videos, Picasa web albums or twitter their time away on selected VIERA models.

Another attractive aspect of VIERA Cast is its Skype inclusion. You can now make Skype voice and video calls with any VIERA panel with the VIERA Cast perk. However, you'll need to connect a Skype Camera (TY-CC10) to its USB terminal if video calls are what you're after.

The PDP Faction

You've already met the VT20, now meet the rest of the plasma clan. But before you do, let us tell you a little more about Panasonic's newly refreshed NeoPDP panels. Panasonic is claiming a four-time improvement in luminance efficiency compared to their 2007 range. According to them, this is possible due to the use of new high density phosphors, cell structures and dynamic black layer. Additionally, VIERA plasma sets launched this year are also known to be more energy efficient. For example, a power reduction of 78 watts has been achieved with the new NeoPDPs compared to last year's models, which averaged at 217 watts.  Rather pompously, Panasonic has dubbed the reworked panels as "the NeoPDP revolution".

Panasonic was demonstrating the power-reduction prowess of their improved NeoPDP panels. Most of them managed to clock an average power rating of less than 200 watts based on what's shown here.

V20 Series
Retailing in 42, 46 and 50 inch sizes, the V20 series offers full-bodied features as the flagship VT20 but minus the 3D option. It carries a Full-HD screen and dazzling dynamic contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1 as well. The V20 suite also presents a host of functions for entertainment purposes, like VIERA CAST, VIERA Image Viewer (motion picture and music playback) and the HDMI CEC-enabled VIERA Link perk. The only other dissimilarity is that the V20 displays don't speak of any THX certification.

The V-series is capable of what the VT20 can do, but minus the 3D capability. It will feature four HDMI ports, a 1080p panel, and more importantly, VIERA Cast to keep you (and maybe your kids) entertained.

U20 Series
The Full-HD U20 stomps in as Panasonic's mid-range model, framed in 46 and 50 inch dimensions. One caveat, however, is that it offers only 900 lines of moving picture resolution instead of 1080. While it offers the same 600Hz sub-field drive, the U20 has a lower dynamic contrast of 2,000,000:1, and comes without the benefit of VIERA Cast. Also lacking is the USB port feature found in the V20 and VT20 models.

The mid-range U-series does not pack a NeoPDP panel, though it has a fixed native resolution of 1080p. But take note though, for it only has a moving picture resolution of 900 lines.

A Series
This HD-Ready model is almost like a mirror image of the X20 series (see below) in the hardware department. The same specs apply, like three HDMI ports, 600Hz sub-field drive and VIERA Image Viewer. Instead of a NeoPDP panel found in the V and U series, it will carry a G13 Progressive HD panel instead.

The A-series offers the bare basics, which includes three HDMI ports, a HD-Ready panel, and VIERA Image Viewer to access your multimedia files via its SD slot.

X20 Series
Like the A-series, the budget X20 entry offers the same HD-Ready display, 2,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and 600Hz sub-field drive, but will not offer VIERA Cast and USB ports. However, you might want to note that the X20 model is only available in the 42-inch iteration.