Panasonic has announced limited availability of two Tru2way plasma TVs. The two plasma flat-panels, the 42-inch TH-42PZ80Q and the 50-inch TH-50PZ80Q, become the first products available to consumers that are Tru2way compatible, making good onto have the debut products in stores by year's end.
Tru2way is a new technology that allows full interactive ("two-way") access to digital TV and HDTV cable systems without the need for a standalone cable box. That's an improvement on the earlier CableCard technology, which couldn't be used to access interactive services (such as pay-per-view and video-on-demand) via third-party devices such as the
The Panasonic Tru2way models will be priced at $1,600 and $2,300 for the 42-inch and 50-inch model, respectively. Compared with their non-Tru2way predecessors, the
For now, distribution will be limited to the Denver and Chicago areas, where the cable systems have been certified to be Tru2way-ready. That area should widen as more cable operators around the country add the capability. Additional manufacturers--including
So my prediction thatwas dead wrong. But, to my mind, the technology still needs to address three key points before it's truly ready for the mass market:
1. The "Tru2way tax" needs to drop to almost nothing. Few people are going to accept a 45 percent surcharge for privilege of losing their cable box. The premium for Tru2way compatibility needs to get closer to the $100 range--at maximum.
2. The cable industry needs to guarantee universal Tru2way compatibility. Buy a Tru2way TV, plug it into your wall, and it should work--no matter what state you're in, or who your cable provider is. The industry is said to be working toward this goal, but it needs to be a reality sooner rather than later.
3. Tru2way TVs need to have built-in DVRs. For me, the best thing about TV today is the box--the DVR sitting under the TV. I'm not going to give up that functionality, but if the manufacturers can build that into the TV as well, then they've got a premium product that'd be worth paying extra for. (We've seen a handful of
What do you think? Will Tru2way make for a better cable TV experience? Or is this a solution in search of a problem?