Although nothing has been officially released this article http://about.skype.com/press/2010/01/panasonic.html
makes it sound like Skype is a VieraCast addition, not just a 2010 model addition. I would assume this would apply to all tvs that have vieracast available. Could be wrong here, but it seems doable with a firmware upgrade. The 2009 model have "future" slots in the vieracast menu as well. Interface looks exactly the same. This also makes sense because Panny would greatly benefit from all the $200 camera kits they'd sell.
Skype and Panasonic Announce Collaboration to Add Skype Software to Viera® HDTVs
Collaboration Takes VIERA CAST™-Enabled HDTV Connectivity to New Level, Offering Voice and Video Communications via HDTV
LAS VEGAS, 5 January 2010 – Panasonic Corporation, a worldwide leader in High Definition technology and built-in TV web entertainment, and Skype, a leader in internet communications, today announced a collaboration that will enable consumers to make voice and video calls over Skype™ on Panasonic's line of 2010 VIERA CAST-enabled HDTVs planned for launch in spring 2010.
This collaboration takes Skype to another platform, in addition to the computer and the mobile phone, which is the technology heart of the home, the television. Skype on your VIERA® delivers many familiar Skype features including:
Free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls
Calls to landline or mobile phone at Skype’s low rates
The option to receive inbound calls via a user’s online Skype number
Skype voicemail, if you have it set up
Being invited to participate in voice conference calls with up to 24 other parties
“The addition of Skype to our VIERA CAST offerings truly takes HDTV connectivity to a whole new level,” said Bob Perry, Vice President, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. “VIERA CAST was created to offer Panasonic VIERA® HDTV owners a new level of entertainment by giving them access to some of the most popular content-driven web sites. Panasonic VIERA HDTV owners can now not only share photos and videos online; with Skype they can also talk to family and friends from the comfort of their living room.”
“Skype has made video calling easy, free and accessible. Today, 34% of all Skype-to-Skype calls include video. In addition, the number one reason why Skype users enjoy video calling is because it makes them feel more connected to friends and family,” said Josh Silverman, CEO of Skype. “This is very exciting for us. TVs are a logical and natural platform for video communications. TVs will no longer be just the center of people’s entertainment experience, but have the potential to be the center of people’s communications experience.”
To conduct a Skype video call on a VIERA CAST HDTV, a specially-designed high-performance Panasonic camera, which is sold as a separate accessory, is simply plugged into the television. The camera includes a special microphone system that can easily pick up sound from couch-distance. Plus, it will deliver up to 720p high definition video quality depending on the consumer’s internet bandwidth.
Panasonic’s VIERA CAST feature has been widely acknowledged for its distinctive internet application, allowing the consumer to view targeted sites on a large HDTV, rather than a small computer screen. VIERA CAST requires no external box or PC. VIERA CAST is accessed via a single button on the television remote control and there is no fee to use the VIERA CAST functionality (some VIERA CAST services such as VOD have a separate fee structure).
Skype joins a growing list of web-based offerings on Panasonic’s VIERA CAST-enabled HDTVs including Amazon Video On Demand, YouTube™, Picasa Web Albums™, Bloomberg News and weather information.