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BBC iPlayer now available on 2011 Panasonic TVs with Viera Connect

We've long bemoaned Panasonic's lack of effort with its Internet portal, in particular the absence of iPlayer, but it seems the company has finally sorted it out.

One of the questions we've been pestering Panasonic with for ages is when Viera Connect -- formerly Viera Cast -- would get iPlayer. The answer, it seems, is straight away.

Most of Panasonic's 2011 TV range isn't available to buy yet, but we're currently reviewing the 37-inch TX-L37E30B, which comes with the Viera Connect portal (and a remote labelled with Viera Cast, for some reason). As part of our testing, we connected the TV to our network, fired up the online service and were stunned to see a BBC iPlayer logo, bold and proud in the top right corner.

We leapt straight into the app, and we have to say, we were impressed. The interface is consistent with the BBC's look and feel, which isn't a surprise considering the corporation is very strict about the design of third-party programs. It's fluid and fast too, which isn't always the case with these TV applications.

Clicking on a programme brings up the information box, which isn't unusual. What is slightly different is the option that allows you to switch to the HD version of the show, where available. Brilliantly, we found the picture quality is second to none in terms of streaming video. In fact, apart from a slight judder, which is barely noticeable, we'd struggle to tell the difference between the quality of the iPlayer feed and standard-definition Freeview images (which admittedly aren't the best).

This is certainly a massive boost for Panasonic's service, which we've accused of being a bit rubbish in the past, for not having much in the way of premium video content. Viera Connect also includes access to Acetrax too, which allows you to buy movies to watch on your TV but keep nice and safe, tucked away in the cloud.

It's not clear yet if iPlayer will come to older Viera Cast devices. We'll endeavour to find out, and we'll post an update if we can.