To say that Panasonic surprised when it announced the launch of an Android tablet at CES would be an understatement.
At the company's press conference on Wednesday, Panny's president Shiro Kitajima only touched on the tablet briefly, but a visit to Panasonic's stand today reveals that there's not just one Viera Tablet – there's three.
Joining the 7-inch Viera Tablet is a 10-incher and a cute little 4-inch model that looks more like a phone than a tablet.
Our colleagues at T3.com grabbed some Panasonic Viera Tablet video footage which you can watch below.
All three Viera Tablets run Android 2.2 and are designed to partner the latest generation of Panasonic's Viera TVs. That said, at their core, they are still just standard Android tablets, and you can still install apps and browse the web on them as normal.
There's no access to the Android Market, but there is a Viera Market for all of Panasonic-endorsed apps.
The core function of the tablets, though, is for real-time interaction with your TV. Panasonic launched its new Viera Connect IPTV service this week, and the Viera Tablets are designed to help you browse the content and add value to your viewing experience.
When you switch on the device, Android boots as per normal and from the Home screen you can load up the Viera Connect app.
The first basic function of the app is to act as a remote control for the TV, so you can use it to choose content to watch from the Viera Connect service, and to browse available apps.
To choose and watch a programme you need only flick the thumbnail over in the direction of your Viera TV.
You can also stream live TV from your Panasonic telly so that you can continue watching your programmes even if you're walking around your home.
The tablet is also compatible with multi-angle content, like the kind you get with live sports broadcasts. So while you're watching the footy on the big plasma, you can watch alternative angles and replays on the tablet.
In the same way, if you see an interesting product advertised during a break, the Viera Tablet will allow you to quickly navigate to read more about and even buy the product.
Unfortunately, we were unable to test most of these features because the tablets only had early builds of the apps installed. Plus, most of the tablets on display were not paired with TVs.
However, we were able to test them as Android tablets in their own right, and in this regard the Viera Tablets are nothing to write home about.
While no official specs have been announced yet, it's clear that the hardware is rather basic. In its press release, Panasonic claims the tablets feature a 'slim and lightweight design'. However, while they are certainly lightweight, slim they absolutely ain't.
Unless of course you consider 1cm+ to be slim.
The screens are also low quality. The resolutions seemed very low indeed – individual pixels could be made out easily. These are not high-end devices by any means.
Of course, the large form factors could mean that the battery life on these things is excellent, but as they were all plugged in and secured the the stands, we were unable to test this.
Essentially these Viera Tablets, while running Android 2.2, are unlikely to send ripples across the tablet market. If you're planning to buy one of Panasonic's sexy new plasma screens and want to make best use of the new Viera Connect service, they may well be worth considering.
But otherwise we can't see these first-generation efforts making much of a splash when they finally go on sale. Ultimately, it will probably come down to how much they cost.
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