I have mentioned previously that the geek family are working with Panasonic this year to share our thoughts on their Audio Visual systems as part of the Panasonic Brit Bloggers programme. Shortly before Christmas we received a very exciting delivery – a Panasonic Smart VIERA LED TV for us to test out for one month. I must confess to having mixed feelings about this – we have a very geeky TV setup which has been finely honed over a number of years, and I wasn’t sure the Smart TV would do everything we needed it to do. But I’ll always give things a try, so we got the thing set up and set about putting it through its paces.
More accurately, the geekdaddy and the kids set it up, as I was working like a mad woman in the run up to Christmas with crazy work deadlines, so I had to just leave them to it. There was very little assembly required – it was simply a question of mounting the screen on the base, and apparently that was simple enough for the kids to do:
There are a good selection of connectors on the back of the Smart VIERA TV, and we managed to connect our geeky home system to one of the HDMI ports with no problem. It’s also got wired ethernet connection as well as WiFi, and it has a USB slot so you can play content that is stored on USB memory sticks. You’ll see there’s an aerial connection – this TV has a built-in FreeView decoder as well, although we weren’t able to try that out as there are an inconvenient line of trees between our house and our nearest transmitter so we can’t actually receive a signal through our aerial.
We used the TV for a month. We used it just as we use our normal TV – we streamed Netflix and iPlayer to it, we shared content from our phones using our Chromecast, and we played quite a lot of Disney Infinity on the Wii U. And we concluded that it was a very nice TV indeed, with a lovely, sharp HD picture.
And alongside of this we started delving into the apps and other features of the TV. Yes, everything has apps these days, and the Smart VIERA TV is no exception. You can install apps onto the TV to access online content, like iPlayer or Netflix, without needing your own media centre. You can even set up your own “home screen” which gives you quick and easy access to all your different viewing options.
Plus the TV will also act as a DNLA server (like a chromecast or AppleTV) so you can “beam” video directly from your smart phone or tablet to display on the TV. This is really great for slightly-less-geeky families that are still trying to find the best way to access iPlayer or YouTube content in their lounges.
And whilst I’m talking about apps I should also mention the iOS and Android app for the Panasonic TV which allows you to not only control the TV from your device, but also allows you to watch the TV on it too (handy if you want to pop to the kitchen and make yourself a cup of tea without missing a second of the match!).
Overall the Panasonic Smart VIERA TV didn’t give us anything more than we already have in our TV setup. But it did it in a tidier, much less complex and easier to set up kind of a way. It’s not something we would buy for ourselves, but I think we’re more geeky than the average consumer. I think this TV would be perfect for someone who’s looking to add some online streaming (Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube etc) to their lounge setup but don’t want to add any complexity, or extra boxes and trailing wires. In fact we discovered after Christmas that my father has just bought one (without knowing we were reviewing one) and he’s absolutely delighted with it.
The Panasonic Smart VIERA 39 inc LED TV retails at £549.99, although I recommend shopping around because prices do vary between suppliers.
The geekdaddy and I also discussed our impressions of this TV over on our Podcast – you can listen to this on Parental Geekery Episode 34.
Disclosure: We were loaned a Panasonic Smart VIERA TV for one month, for review purposes. All words, pictures and opinions are my own.