Panasonic Promises 3D Plasma HDTVs by Summer, Adds Skype Support

As expected, Panasonic’s CES press conference dwelt heavily on the company’s plans to bring 3D HDTVs mainstream, including model info on five plasma sets slated to ship by midyear, and a Blu-Ray Disc player. Panasonic also became the second CE vendor of the day to announce the addition of the popular Internet phone call service, Skype, to its VieraCast connected TV service lineup (LG beat them to it by several hours).

The upcoming full HD (1080p) 3D Viera TVs range in screen size from nearly 50 inches to 65 inches. They include two 50-inch models ( the TC-P50VT20 and TC-P50VT25); a 54-inch set (TC-P54VT25); a 58-inch set (TC-P58VT25) and the 65-inch top-of-the-line TC-P65VT25. Each set will ship with one pair of the special glasses required to see content in 3D. Panasonic said pricing would be announced at a later date.

The 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc player, model DMP-BDT350, will also play standard Blu-ray Discs and DVDs. Again, Panasonic did not offer details on pricing, or a release date.

Panasonic also showed a professional-grade 3D camcorder that filmmakers can use to create 3D content. Officials pointed to the healthy box-office receipts for James Cameron’s 3D sci-fi adventure epic, Avatar, as an indication of the public’s appetite for 3D content. (Avatar has grossed in excess of $1 billion worldwide in the 17 days since its release.)

Panasonic executives said the product announcements show the company is on track to make good on pledges made last year to ship 3D home entertainment gear in 2010.

For more up-to-the-minute blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PC World's complete coverage of CES 2010.

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