Yesterday, Panasonic announced that all its 2009 Blu-ray players with VIERA CAST will now be able to access Amazon’s Video On Demand service without the need for anything else but an Internet connection. This includes the B15 portable Blu-ray player.
Amazon offers more than 45,000 titles, including more than 1,000 in HD format. Once you have purchased a title from the service, you’ll be able to watch it using any VIERA CAST device, as well as on a PC or Mac personal computer. The content is stored on Amazon’s servers and then streamed to your device, so there is no downloading or local storage required. Current owners of supported models should find that their units have been automatically updated with the new software (if their player is connected to the Internet), and they will be able to start using the service when they register their device with Amazon Video On Demand.
Internet connectivity features are fairly easy to add to most HDTV and Blu-ray devices — they all include sophisticated computers already — so expect to see the number of models supporting various services to increase rapidly as we approach the holiday buying season. With few performance differences left in the displays themselves, Internet support of for-pay and free services could become an important differentiating feature among the competitors.