Panasonic, Comcast First to Present ‘Real’ Demo of tru2way Cable

At CEDIA, Panasonic will demo a 50-inch plasma with built-in tru2way technology communicating with the local Denver Comcast system -- a first.

Panasonic, Comcast First to Present ‘Real’ Demo of tru2way Cable
Pansonic's Paul Liao (left) and CableLabs' Richard Green announce the first live CableLabs demo at CEDIA.
Julie Jacobson · September 3, 2008

Panasonic appears be the first company to present a live demonstration of a tru2way television hooked up to a compatible cable service.

At CEDIA Expo 2008 in Denver, the CE manufacturer will show a tru2way plasma connected to the local Comcast cable system, which supports the new interactive service.

“This is off of the real cable head end,” says Richard Green, president and CEO of CableLabs, the cable consortium that has been working for about six years on two-way interactive cable. “As far as I know, this is the first real demo.”

Among big CE players, Panasonic was the earliest and most enthusiastic supporter of tru2way (formerly OpenCable or OCAP), which will presumably replace the one-way CableCard solution.

“The difference between tru2way and CableCard TV is quite dramatic,” says Bob Perry, Senior VP, Panasonic Display Company. “A tru2way television is actually a computer of sorts. When you activate your television on a local cable TV system, it downloads a Java application that executes on the TV.”

While tru2way products and services are only just coming online, by 2013, half of U.S. cable subscribers will use tru2way technology, according to research firm ABI.

Green thinks “it will be sooner than that.” The major cable operators are expected to be online with tru2way by July of next year, he says.

Just what can you do with tru2way?

“Initially, we’ll be showing a Comcast tru2way interactive programming guide, plus broadcast TV on demand,” says Perry. “Depending on the local cable system, they may offer other interactive services – anything from ordering pizza to requesting service from the cable company.”

No pizza will be delivered to the Panasonic booth, via tru2way or otherwise.

Green says the earliest applications will be relatively easy-to-implement widgets such as clocks and weather reports.

Panasonic has been an earlier implementer of many significant technologies including video-over-powerline, HDMI Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) and now tru2way. “

If you want to be really consumer-centric, you need to help consumers operate their equipment,” says Paul Liao, vice president and CTO of Panasonic. “With tru2way, one of the biggest things is that you don’t need two remotes.”

Panasonic’s implementation of CEC—which enables CE devices to communicate with each other two-way over HDMI—further simplifies the interactivity that tru2way delivers.

At the show, Panasonic will demonstrate a production-grade 50-inch plasma TV “that will be fully functional,” says Perry. “We’ll be shipping in volume after CEDIA, in time for the holiday season.”

Do Retailers Care about tru2way?

Perry says that Panasonic has been working closely with retailers for several months. “Some retailers clearly understand it,” he says. “For others, it’s really new to them and we have work to do.”

Panasonic’s tru2way TVs will cost about $300 more than their non-endowed counterparts. Perry says, however, that Comcast promotions may very well erase that $300 premium.

“For its part,” says Perry, “Panasonic is partnering with select retailers and Comcast, to ensure that as each cable system goes live, consumers understand the monumental change, and the opportunity to own a tru2way television for their next television purchase.”

Panasonic is at CEDIA booth #825. View the complete CEDIA Expo 2008 Exhibitor List.

  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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