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Panasonic Takes Tru2way HDTVs To Retail

By: Todd Spangler, Multichannel News

Panasonic said it has shipped the first tru2way-based HDTVs to a retailer in suburban Chicago, while Comcast's Chicago and Denver systems have gone live with tru2way.

The developments mark a key go-to-market milestone for the cable industry's interactive services standard for consumer electronics devices that has been more than a decade in development.

Panasonic's first tru2way-enabled Viera plasma HDTVs will be offered in 42- and 50-inch sizes. The sets include a tru2way cable receiver -- eliminating the need for a separate set-top box -- that should theoretically work in any cable system that supports the technology.

Panasonic said its tru2way-certified Viera HDTVs are now available at Abt Electronics in Glenview, Ill., and will be available in the Chicago area at Circuit City locations. In Denver, the sets will be available at Ultimate Electronics and Circuit City stores.

“We see tru2way technology as the gateway for our customers to experience the next generation of interactive television, and our work with Panasonic to develop and support the first fully digital-cable-ready HDTVs is an important first step in making that happen,” said Mark Hess, Comcast's senior vice president of video product development, in a statement.

tru2way also represents the cable industry's desire to provide its own technology for consumer electronics makers—including Panasonic, Sony and Samsung Electronics—to access two-way cable services, instead of the Federal Communications Commission imposing an alternate standard.

Earlier this summer, Panasonic's tru2way HDTVs reportedly failed CableLabs certification testing for the spec, leading to speculation that the products would not meet the target of shipping for the 2008 holiday season.

Getting the tru2way products into the retail channel has been a priority for Comcast and Panasonic. The two companies have heavily promoted their collaboration on tru2way technology, touting their plans at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and at the NCTA's Cable Show '08 in May.

The TH-42PZ80Q 42-inch model will have a suggested retail price of $1,599.95, and the TH-50PZ80Q 50-inch unit will list at $2,299.95.

Both TVs feature 480-Hz sub-field drive for sharp motion image focus, 1,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and a built-in SD memory card reader for playing back digital photos.



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