Panasonic Viera Cast Blu-ray Players, HDTVs Get Amazon Video-on-Demand

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Panasonic showed off Viera Cast Blu-ray players and HDTVs at this year’s CES in January, and now the company has announced that Viera Cast devices will be able to tap into movie rentals from Amazon Video-on-Demand—plus services like Picassa and YouTube—without the need for an additional set-top box or service.

The company is expanding its Blu-ray line up to include three new players—the DMP-BD60, DMP-BD80, and DMP-BD70V—all of which will also feature Viera Link, enabling users to control multiple devices via HDMI with a single remote. All three players include 1080p upscaling, an SD card slot and USB slot for showing digital images and AVCHD video from cameras and camcorders, and the DMP-BD70V is a dual-deck Blu-ray/VHS system—and, yes, it’ll upscale VHS to 1080p, if that’s what you really want to do. The three units also include Auto Power Standby, which turns off the player when users return to TV operation via Viera Link: Panasonic claims the feature and an integrated video processing circuit helps make power consumption in the BD60 up to 16 percent lower in standby mode than Panasonic’s earlier DMP-BD35 model. The entire line should be available in April for with the BD60 going for $299.95, and the BD80 and BD70V going for $399.95.

Panasonic also announced new screen sizes for its Viera HDTVs—and some the Viera Cast-capable models will be able to tap into Amazon Video-on-Demand, just like the Blu-ray players. Panasonic is adding a new 54-inch plasma model to its Viera line this summer for a suggested price of $5,999.95; the unit will be one inch thick, feature Wireless HD connectivity, a 40,000:1 contrast ration, 24p Cinematic playback, and four HDMI inputs. Viera Cast with Amazon Video-on-Demand will be available in Panasonic’s Z1 and V10 series plasma series, as well as Panasonic’s G10 LCD HDTV series.