Chicago and Denver First Cities with Tru2Way
From Abt Electronics in Glenview Ill., Panasonic and Comcast kicked off a limited launch of tru2way technology to Chicago electronics shoppers. A similar kickoff happened in a Denver Ultimate Electronics store.
Both independent retailers, plus Chicago and Denver Circuit Cities, are introducing Panasonic’s first two tru2way-compatible TVs this month. The technology, developed by Cable Labs, allows TVs to receive cable programming plus all the service provider’s interactive features such as a program guide and video-on-demand, without requiring a set-top-box.
Panasonic’s chief technology officer Dr. Paul Liao and Comcast’s senior vice president of product development Mark Hess were on hand at Abt Electronics to help promote the technology launch. One of the reasons Chicago and Denver were selected, note Liao, was that both cities are “heavily Comcast.” Two Panasonic tru2way plasma TVs models (with three live demos) were on display at the store and would be available for purchase by the end of the month.
“The big benefit [of tru2way] is the fact they [consumers] can now have a beautiful Panasonic television without having to have a set top box tied to it,” said Hess. “ Everything we offer on a set top box is now available on a television without a set-top-box,” he added. DVR capability is not presently available though tru2way, but multiple manufacturers are working on DVR products. Liao indicated that the lack of a DVR probably wouldn’t be a hindrance to many consumers due to Comcast’s extensive free VOD offering. “Essentially all the most popular TV programs are available as VOD streams, so to some extent not having the DVR capability is not that disabling.”
Hess explained that Comcast is working diligently to ensure that the rollout of this new technology goes smoothly so customers can have confidence in it. “I think we’ll be very careful of these customers because it’s a brand new technology we’ll make sure they get a really great installation experience,” he said. Self installations of the card may be further down the road, but initially an installer will be required to install and provision the card. He likened the rollout to the first introduction of cable modems at retail, which initially required a trained installer, but now can be purchased off the shelf and installed by the home owner. Liao said that Panasonic has been working closely with retailers to make sure the sales teams and installers are well-informed about the technology.