We knew Panasonic was going to unleash a slew of new apps for its Viera Connect televisions, and now it looks like they're finally ready to hit the ground running -- for its 2011 models, anyway. Back in January the company released its Viera SDK to developers, and now it has a smattering of games and sports apps to show for it, including the long-promised NBA Game Time, which includes standings and highlights from recent games. In case you're curious, there's no sign yet of Asphalt 5 HD, also announced at CES, though Panasonic says the title should be launching in the near future. Also on tap are MLS and NHL applications, each of which let you watch live games -- provided you subscribe to these leagues' live game packages. Panasonic says the NHL app is slated for the middle of this month, and you can expect MLS in early May. What we're most excited about, though, is an app that syncs with select NordicTrack treadmills (due out "later this year"), pairing your run with a first-person view in Google Earth. We can't wait to embark on a simulated run through the streets of Paris (versus, you know, actually going there), but alas, Panasonic wasn't ready to demo the app quite yet.

As always, Viera's apps are arranged in a grid of large squares, right down to the standings and recorded matches in MLS, all of which makes these sets easy to navigate using a remote control. (We'll be curious to see what it's like playing Asphalt 5 with the remote, which you'll have to do if you don't want to spring for an optional wireless gaming controller.) The interface adds the occasional visual flourish, too, including a carousel of NHL standings and fly-in news categories in the AP's news app. The software is generally responsive, although you might find yourself waiting a few extra seconds for news blurbs and other information-heavy tidbits to load. Want a sneak peak at these apps before they roll out this spring? Hit the link and check out the gallery and hands-on video.

Panasonic Viera Connect apps hands-on

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PANASONIC UPS ITS GAME IN CONNECTED TV
WITH ACTIVATION OF PROFESSIONAL LEAGUE SPORTS APPS ON ITS 2011 VIERA CONNECT™-ENABLED HDTVS

Enhanced IPTV Offerings to be Highlighted During 15-Market
"Experience Amazing" Mall Tour and in New Ad Campaign Launching Today


SECAUCUS, NJ (April 4, 2011) - Panasonic, a leader in connected TV entertainment, announced today the activation of professional sports apps for baseball and basketball on its 2011 line of VIERA ConnectTM-enabled HDTVs1. The planned addition of interactive sports apps including professional baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer was initially announced in January at the International Consumer Electronics Show.

VIERA Connect, a significant enhancement of Panasonic's connected IPTV offerings, includes a robust collection of applications2 including expanded video streaming and two-way interactive features from gaming to social networking and fitness programs. In addition to popular video applications such as YouTube™, Netflix and Amazon Video on DemandTM, the activation of professional sports apps will enable owners of Panasonic's VIERA Connect-enabled 2011 VIERA HDTVs to watch their favorite teams live or catch-up on archived games3 optimized for viewing on their large-screen flat-panel HDTVs.

VIERA Connect will be highlighted in Panasonic's 15-market "Experience Amazing" Tour which kicked off today with events in New York's Grand Central Terminal, Chicago's Union Station, Los Angeles' Culver City Shopping Center. For more information on Panasonic's Experience Amazing Tour, including addresses and hours of operation, please visit www.panasonic.com/amazing.

VIERA Connect will also be highlighted in a new national print, TV and online ad campaign launching today which focuses on the critically-acclaimed picture quality and features of Panasonic's 2011 line of VIERA HDTVs.

"VIERA Connect breaks the boundaries of the walled garden structure of initial IPTV programs and delivers an unprecedented, more robust, two-way interactive set of features for consumers to enjoy directly through their Panasonic VIERA® HDTVs," said Panasonic Corporation of North America Vice President Merwan Mereby who oversees the development of Panasonic's rapidly expanding connected TV features and products. "The activation of the sports apps for professional baseball and basketball are great examples of the amazing content and connectivity VIERA Connect is delivering to consumers and there are many more exciting and popular apps on the way."

In the coming weeks, Panasonic plans to further expand upon the sports offerings for consumers with the activation of professional hockey and soccer apps. Details on these activations as well as a host of other sports, fitness, video streaming, social networking, and interactive gaming apps will be announced at a later date.

VIERA Connect will also allow consumers to personalize their connected HDTV experience to their specific interests through the new VIERA Connect Market--an online store featuring an ever-growing catalog of hardware products, as well as free and paid apps from third party developers.

For information on Panasonic's VIERA Connect IPTV feature, visit www.panasonic.com/vieraconnect.

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Panasonic rolls out new apps for its 2011 Viera Connect TVs, we go hands-on (video)