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Panasonic shows off running machine for TV, scales and downloadable games

If leaving your TV is too much of a chore, then why not do everything in front of it. Panasonic has apps that will let you go for a jog, weigh yourself or even play games.

Ian Morris

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Panasonic wants to point out that TV isn't the only thing on TVs these days. The company is keen to get us spending more time, and potentially more money, using our televisions in different ways.

The first demo the company showed us at its 2011 product showcase this week was a treadmill hooked up to one of its plasma TVs. On the display was a Google Maps mash-up that allowed the runner to pretend they are pounding the streets of New York, rather than trying to stay upright on a rubber band somewhere in Docklands.

It's a nice idea, but the problems with this are many. After all, who has room for a compatible treadmill in their home? And if you do have room, couldn't you just run around the grounds of your estate instead? Even so, innovation makes us happy, and this was innovative.

Panasonic also showed a set of scales from French company Withings. The idea here is that a free app you download from the new Viera Connect service can help you track your weight loss -- or gain, depending on cake -- over a period of time. Superb for people looking to lose weight and tackle that tricky issue of motivation. This will actually be the first of these products to be made available too, and almost certainly the most useful.

The final part of Panasonic's 'when is a TV not a TV' area was the 'when it's a games console' section. Here, Panasonic employees lounged around on a bean bag playing a video game, not on a console, but via the TV itself. Part of the Viera Connect app store that was launched at CES, this game is surprisingly detailed and impressively smooth. Although we're certain a TV doesn't have the processing power to play the more detailed games, for a casual player these are ideal.

To make the games possible, you'll need to buy a separate controller, which Panasonic will happily sell you through its new Viera Connect store. Handy.

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Run around any city in the world with a Panasonic app that uses maps from the Internet to inspire your jogging.
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A compatible treadmill would be needed though, and we don't see it being cheap. Or small.
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As Google improves its maps, we can see this becoming an even more impressive and enjoyable experience. Imagine running past all those StreetView incidents.
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The scales, which will go on sale soon, are made by smart equipment company Withings, who we saw at CES demonstrating other impressive technology.
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The scales are very cool looking, and have an Apple design whiff about them.
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Monitor your weight over time, and hopefully receive Wii Sports-style reprimands for being too chunky.
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If you want to waste some of that good work running and weighing yourself, lie back and get lazy with some video games.
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You'll need to buy a controller, but the gaming experience was the best we've ever seen built into a TV.
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The Panasonic Viera Connect store will feature both apps, and hardware.
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So you won't even need to move from in front of the TV to order the stuff that means you'll never need to move away from in front of the TV.

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