Owners of Panasonic's high-end Viera TV models can now make Skype calls directly from their TV without any additional hardware. Skype TV was announced months ago and first shown off at CES in January, but today's announcement makes the concept a reality on Panasonic "Cast"-enabled plasma HDTVs.
This includes all TVs from the company's VT20, VT25, G20, and G25 series, which are the most recent, top-of-the-line sets from Panasonic, including 3D TVs. Cast is the name of Panasonic's IPTV firmware, which allows users to watch Youtube video, access Google Picasa photo albums, and visit proprietary versions of Twitter, Pandora, and Netflix, directly from their TV's built-in interface. Skype is the latest addition to Panasonic's Cast lineup, and is available now on all compatible sets. Users can set up Skype-to-Skype calls for free, receive incoming calls, and set up their own voicemail inbox through a specialized menu tailored to remote control navigation. Just like the Skype program on PC, users can also make outgoing calls to landline and mobile numbers, for a fee. And with a special video camera sold by Panasonic for around $170, users can also make video calls to other Skype users from their TV. "Adding Skype to Panasonic's VIERA CAST IPTV offerings takes the role of the television to whole new level for consumers. 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," said Panasonic Display Group VP Henry Hauser.