Question: I have a new home theater setup that includes a 2010 Panasonic TCP-42G25 42-inch plasma TV and a Panasonic BD-65 Blu-ray player. Since both my new TV and Blu-ray player will accept the same wireless bridge Ethernet connection to connect to my home network, which one of these devices should I use to connect the Internet for Netflix and similar streaming video sites?
Answer: Welcome to the world of connected TV.
Although 3-D was the talk of the Consumer Electronics Show last year, the many advantages of connecting your TV to the Internet were just as impressive and probably more useful to the vast majority of consumers, especially since 3-D is in its infancy.
Because you asked about Panasonic, I will use their equipment as a guide to show the advantages of connecting a web-enabled TV or Blu-ray player to the Internet. Most other manufactures have similar functionality on higher-end models, so check your TV or player's manufacturer's website to see what your gear can do.
Viera Cast is Panasonic's name for its Internet connectivity feature. With Viera Cast you can enjoy content from Netflix, Twitter, Pandora, Amazon Video, YouTube, Picasa, Bloomberg and Fox Sports on your television. Please note services such as Netflix require a subscription. The Internet video streaming function of Viera Cast works much the same whether you connect the TV or the Blu-ray player.
If you connect the television, you can buy a $149 accessory camera, the Panasonic TYCC10W, and make video calls via Skype. It is like turning your television into a giant Jetsons-style videophone. If you bought your TV after June 6, you can get the camera for free through a special offer. Don't miss out!
If you connect the Blu-ray player, you will be able to enjoy BD-Live Internet features found on Blu-ray discs and, more importantly, the player will download and install firmware updates automatically. The Panasonic players have an excellent video processing chip and your online content may look a little better if it is processed through the player than if you run the connection straight to the television.
So, unless you plan on using the Skype feature on your plasma TV, the better choice would be to connect the Blu-ray player to your wireless adapter. No matter the brand of player, it is very important to keep the firmware updated to the latest version or playback problems may occur when new discs are released. This was seen recently with the "Avatar" Blu-ray, which did not work on many players until they were updated with the latest firmware. If the player is not connected to the Internet, you must find the firmware online and either burn it to a disc or copy it to a USB flash drive for installation. Better to have it done automatically.
If you want to have it all, you can do so easier than you may think. The $99 Panasonic DYWL10 wireless USB adapter will plug into your TV's USB terminal and make your TV a standalone wireless device, so it can connect directly to your wireless network and free up your wireless bridge for use with your Blu-ray player. You can also make the connections vice-versa, because the adapter works with the Blu-ray player, too.
Read past columns and product reviews by Don Lindich at www.soundadviceblog.com . Contact him using the submit question link on the site.