Panasonic and Viewster first look
First-look at Viewster on Panasonic's TVs

12 Aug 2011 | Rasmus Larsen |

Earlier this month Panasonic announced that they have partnered with Viewster; a video-on-demand service that will be available in Europe and later the US. In this article we take a first-look at the Viewster platform that is available on Panasonic’s 2011 TVs with Viera Connect.

First-look at Viewster in Panasonic’s Smart TVs

Viewster is a video-on-demand service with movie rentals (2 Euro) and a monthly subscription plan (10 Euro). Viewster plans to roll out in "phases" and start with parts of Europe, and later extend to other regions of Europe and the US.

Panasonic plans to demonstrate the fruits of their partnership with Viewster at this year’s IFA 2011 fair in Berlin in early September. But Viewster is already available to download now as an App on Panasonic’s 2011 TVs with Viera Connect.

Viewster is currently in “beta stage” and the movie catalogue is limited, and will be extended after the official launch. Therefore Viewster is also free during the beta phase and you can create a free account yourself at www.viewster.com.

Viewster is available through the Viera Market as a TV App:

Viewster on Panasonic’s TVs with Viera Connect
Viewster on Panasonic’s TVs with Viera Connect


When you access the Viewster App you will see this screen.

Viewster on Panasonic’s TVs with Viera Connect
Viewster on Panasonic’s TVs with Viera Connect


You can sort movies in a number of ways, and select different categories such as comedy, thrillers etc. You can also add movies to "favorites" or you can simply use the search function to find a specific title.

Viewster on Panasonic’s TVs with Viera Connect
Viewster on Panasonic’s TVs with Viera Connect


There is a short movie description available for each title and you can change language as well as subtitles. We had no subtitle options available but we guess that is due to the beta testing.

Viewster on Panasonic’s TVs with Viera Connect
Viewster on Panasonic’s TVs with Viera Connect


Below the movie description you can see a small section with similar movies.

Catalogue

The selection of movies is very limited at the moment. The most prominent titles are The Man with the Golden Arm, Chasing Butterflies and Crap Shoot. Yes, they’re all there.

In other words; the movie catalogue is currently limited to "free movies" that no-one have ever heard of - and that is why Viewster is free at the moment. We cannot tell you much about the movie catalogue at this point. Viewster has not issued a list or anything but we expect to learn more at IFA 2011. We hope for the best.

The menus are easy to navigate and in general the user experience feels pretty good. It is easy to find movies based on the many filters and we did not experience long loading times. All in all, the Viewster platform looks promising.

Pictures quality

We did not expect perfect picture quality and most video-on-demand services also offer subpar picture quality at the moment (except a few in the US).

Viewster on Panasonic’s TVs with Viera Connect
Viewster on Panasonic’s TVs with Viera Connect


Unfortunately this is also the story here. Viewster is no better than most video-on-demand services in terms of picture quality. I found some movies unwatchable and personally I would have a very hard time watching an entire movie on a 46-50 inch TV. We hope that Viewster decides to improve pictures quality before launching the official App.
And it is not because of our internet connection Netflix looks great here.

Before your movies load up you can expect 5-10 seconds of "buffering". You can also use the "Fast-Forward" and "fast-Rewind" buttons that jumps 5 minutes.

Conclusion

Viewster is not a complete video-on-demand service right now, but Viewster never promised that either. We saw glimpses of a promising App but we hope that Viewster decides to improve picture quality before launch.

The menu system on the other hand seems to function very well, providing a smooth user experience and great filters for finding the right video content in the movie catalogue. Viewster has not announced how many or which movies to expect after the launch but we hope for the best.

Viewster is available on European Panasonic 2011 TVs with Viera Connect and select Panasonic Blu-ray player. Viewster is also available on Samsung and LG Smart TVs, as well as Android devices. Viewster also expects to launch in the US later.

Learn more about Panasonic’s Smart TVs here.



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