Skype Voice and Video Calling Now Available on Panasonic's Viera Cast-Enabled HDTV's

Panasonic VIERA Cast Skype Commercial

--Feature Enabled by New $170 Communication Camera which Will Be Sold Separately

Panasonic and Internet communications software provider, Skype, on Tuesday announced the activation of a service called "Skype on your Viera" on 2010 Panasonic Viera Cast-enabled HDTV sets (note: Viera Cast is the brand through which Panasonic designates its OTT offering; other services available through Viera Cast include Amazon VOD, YouTube, Google's Picasa, Netflix, Pandora, Twitter, Fox Sports, and a weather service), and also announced the availability of a new Skype-enabled communication camera from Panasonic, dubbed the TY-CC10W. Skype first announced its integration partnership with Panasonic in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, where it also announced partnerships with rival HDTV manufacturers, LG Electronics and Samsung.

According to the companies, the addition of Skype to Viera Cast will allow owners of 2010 Viera Cast-enabled Panasonic Viera Plasma HDTV's (VT25, VT20, G25 and G20 series) to make voice and video calls from their living rooms directly through their HDTV, using the new TY-CC10W camera, which will be sold separately with an MSRP of $169.95. "Adding Skype to Panasonic's Viera Cast IPTV offerings takes the role of the television to whole new level for consumers," Henry Hauser, VP of the Panasonic Display Group, said in a prepared statement. "Panasonic's Viera Cast-enabled HDTV's 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 prides itself on listening to our customers and when talking to them about enhancements to our Viera Cast offerings, Skype was prominently mentioned. Panasonic is extremely pleased to work with Skype to deliver this unique, high-value feature to Viera owners." Added Skype general manager, Jonathan Christensen: "A family can now simply turn on their TV set, gather together on the couch, and talk to loved ones face-to-face. It's easy to use and is now available for the masses thanks to a strategic collaboration between Skype and Panasonic. Launching TV's that are Skype-enabled with Panasonic is a big milestone for us, and part of our strategy to deliver Skype beyond desktop and laptop computers."

Panasonic and Skype promise that Skype on your Viera will deliver many familiar Skype features, including free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls; calls to landline or mobile phones at low rates; the option to receive inbound calls via a user's online Skype number; voicemail; and the ability to participate in voice conference calls with up to 24 other parties. The companies also say that the service will provide users with the benefit of HD video at up to 1280x720 resolution at a maximum frame rate of 22fps; and will take advantage of Viera Cast's GUI, which is operable from the TV's remote.

According to Panasonic, the TY-CC10W incorporates four unidirectional microphones, an echo-canceling system, and audio processing for collecting voices in the living room environment. It also features beam-forming technology to record clear audio over typical TV viewing distances of 3-4 meters, the company says, and provides a wide viewing angle, making it possible for more people to participate in calls on the new service. The camera plugs into 2010 Panasonic Viera HDTV's via a USB port, and can be placed on top of the HDTV or on its own stand.

Panasonic says that Skype on your Viera will be highlighted in a new ad campaign for its Viera HDTV's that is scheduled to begin airing early next month on local network TV, national cable TV and DirecTV.

A demo video of the new service is embedded above.

North America