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CES 2013: Panasonic introduces touch screen Viera smart TVs

January 07, 2013|By Chris O'Brien

LAS VEGAS -- Great. Just what I wanted to hear. That Panasonic Viera TV I bought last year? The one that I had to sell one of my kidneys to afford? The one I paid a bundle to have mounted on the wall above the fireplace in our living room? 

My friends at Panasonic want me to know that old Viera is toast. A brick. Yesterday's headline. Not worth the paper it's printed on. 

This harsh reality was delivered at the Panasonic news conference at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show on Monday. Putting aside my bitterness at once again being trampled by the inevitable march of technological progress, let me summarize the new features unveiled by the company. 

Photos: CES 2013 in Las Vegas 

I'll start by conceding that the big item is a neat one. On my Viera, when I want to view digital or Internet content, we have to click on a screen where each service or app is displayed. When I want to search content for any service (Netflix or Hulu, for instance), I have to go in and out of that app. 

With the new Vieras, Panasonic has created something called "My Homescreen." This is a place where I can view all my favorite content across these services in one place, which is indeed much more convenient, according to Vic Carlson, Panasonics's vice president of consumer marketing.

Even better, each member of the family can create his or her own homescreen. And the camera on the TV will scan and recognize each user and immediately switch to the right homescreen. Though how that would work when my kids are wrestling over the TV remains to be seen. 

There is also a voice-controlled remote. And in addition, the Viera screens are now touch enabled. So, with Viera's Swipe & Share service, you can share your photos from your mobile device to the TV. And then, with a new touch pen, you tap the TV screen, and an editing menu pops up. However, it doesn't appear to come with the ladder I would need to reach my TV. But, that's just a quibble. 

Okay. Very nifty. But ...

All of this points to one of the lingering and big differences between TVs and computers. Ideally, the new Viera system would be offered as an operating system upgrade. I would upgrade in a heartbeat. I might even pay a little for the upgrade. But buy a new TV? Not gonna happen. 

And that means it's going to be several years before Panasonic has me as a customer. Not because I hold a grudge, but because I hope the TV lasts that long. In the meantime, we don't really have much of a relationship. 

Also: 

CES 2013: Drawing on creativity without touching your tablet

CES 2013: Canopy case adds touch-screen function to back of iPhone

CES 2013: World's first big-screen OLED TV coming to U.S. in March


Follow me on Twitter @obrien.

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