Panasonic Adds Skype to Viera Cast HDTVs

Ever felt the need to engage in live Internet video conferencing in your living room right from your big screen TV? Now you can. Panasonic has thrown the switch on Skype service for its 2010 Viera Cast-enabled HDTVs: all owners need to do it hook up Panasonic’s Skype-enabled camera and they’ll be all set to chat with family and friends around the world using Skype.

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“Adding Skype to Panasonic’s Viera Cast IPTV offerings takes the role of the television to whole new level for consumers,” said Panasonic Display Group VP Henry Hauser, in a statement. “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.”

Panasonic’s Skype-capable HDTVs include the VT25, VT20, G25, and G20-series Veira plasma models. Users will be able to handle Skype video as resolutions up to 1,280 by 720 resolution at 22 frames per second. As with other Skype setups, Skype-to-Skype voice and video calling is free; users will also be able to connect to landlines and mobile phones around the world at low rates. Viera Cast-enabled users will also have the option to receive inbound calls at their Skype numbers and engage in group voice conference with up to 24 other people. Of course, to do any of this requires broadband Internet access for the TV.

Panasonic’s Skype-enabled communication camera runs $169.99.

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