Panasonic Viera Touch Pad Controller pictures and hands-on

When you buy a new shiny Panasonic VT50 plasma, the company's new flagship television, you also get the new "touch pad controller", but what's it like? We tracked down the new remote control on the Panasonic stand at CES in Las Vegas to find out for ourselves.

The half egg-shaped device is clearly designed for couch potatoes of the highest order. Without doing anything, apart from moving your thumb, you can navigate the new smart TV features, change channel, scroll through menus as well as type fairly quickly when it comes to searching the Internet - no mean feature seeing as it hasn't got a keyboard.

The main focus of the Panasonic Viera Touch Pad Controller is a large circular touch sensitive area at the top of the device that is a trackpad.

Moving your finger around the circular area in the same way you would an old iPod lets you scroll through the menu system on the TV, and the whole process is very intuitive - thank you Apple.

To help you get around the lack of a keyboard, Panasonic has designed its smart TV to help you whenever possible.

Whether it is automatically remembering your 27 most-visited websites, in a similar way to the Google Chrome browser on your computer, or automatically offering you suggestions via Google search to save you typing the full word, it should have you covered.

Once you've found what you want you can use the remote to fire up the TV's browser and the trackpad turns into a trackpad to control a standard mouse pointer.

It is as responsive as you would expect, but having a circular track area and a rectangular screen is never going to work as effectively as we would like.

At any point you can press the x button on the remote and it takes you straight back to the main TV stream on the television, and for those that just like Channel Up and Volume there are dedicated buttons.

Simple and effective, Panasonic has worked out a way of creating a remote control that offers plenty, but just isn't as daunting as Sony's Google TV offering.



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