Along with its new range of Blu-ray recorders and players, Panasonic were also showing off their new Viera Cast IP technology, which is built into pretty much everything in the new range. It's an IP entertainment solution, and while it's no Netflix or TiVo yet, it has the potential for greatness, if only they can get the right partners on board.At the moment, the only services on offer through the Viera cast platform are YouTube and Picasa Web albums. Both are pretty fully featured, with the ability to search all of YouTube, sign in and mark favourites all a standard part of the service.
Accessing Viera Cast is as simple as pressing the button on their remote. It opens up a screen with both the YouTube and Picasa option on the screen, along with three boxes on either side that you can customise with favourite bookmarked videos or albums. Navigation is done through the remote.
But the real opportunity in Viera Cast is that the service is hosted by Panasonic, which means they can bring new functionality to the service without the need for a firmware upgrade or a download to your player. Which makes the entire upgrade not only free and easy for all Panasonic Blu-ray owners, but also essentially future-proofs your Blu-ray purchase.
What Panasonic needs to do now is actively pursue relationships with online content services. Yahoo widgets would be an ideal place to start, especially considering that implementing them should be extremely simple. The next company would be Blockbuster for downloadable movies. Considering that Blockbuster already has an arrangement with TiVo in Australia, and is actively looking for more partners worldwide for their Ondemand service, partnering with Panasonic shouldn't be outside the realm of possibility.
Of course, there are lots of discussions that need to happen before any of these services are announced, let alone implemented, so we'll be waiting a while in any case. But let's just hope that Panasonic are thinking the same way we are, and that their new Blu-ray lineup could be the all in one box under the TV we've always wanted.