Today's Panasonic Japan launch of seven new 1080p high-definition televisions introduced the world to plenty of quality new hardware. But one of the more intriguing announcements was buried well below the headline.

Of the new Panasonic Viera sets , the four most-expensive plasma models will be the world's first TV sets equipped to receive programming from a new Japanese video-on-demand (VoD) service. They will arrive on 1 September.

Sayonara Radio Times

The four high-end (42, 50, 58 and 65-inch) PZ750 series plasmas are the first that can access the new acTVila (pronounced 'Acto-vila') VoD portal. From here they can download movies and television shows in high-definition.

The acTVila service is run by Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, So-net, Toshiba and Hitachi under the 'TV Portal Service Corporation' umbrella. It offers MPEG4-AVC/H.264 pay-per-view video over an internet connection in full HD.

Frills included

Aside from the usual claims of best this, that and the other, an eye-catching feature of the four heavy hitters is the ability to hook up with a Panasonic video intercom to show whoever is at the door right over the top of your favourite TV show.

Incidentally, they also are the first sets to incorporate the Nano Bass Exciter technology for richer bass that we looked at recently.

The other three, non-VoD sets, are two entry-level plasmas (42 and 50 inches) and a 37-inch LCD. Pricing ranges from ¥300,000 (£1,240) for the LCD to ¥990,000 (£4,100) for the 65-inch plasma model.