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CES 2008: Comcast, Panasonic Team Up on Portable DVR

Las Vegas -- Cable operator Comcast and consumer-electronics manufacturer Panasonic teamed up to create a new media device that will connect to a cable input and function like a conventional digital-video recorder in the home, but that can also be taken on the road to serve as a portable media player.

The new Comcast/Panasonic co-branded “AnyPlay P-DVR” portable DVR -- which will officially be unveiled Monday morning by Panasonic AVC Networks president Toshihiro Sakamoto during a keynote address at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show here -- will initially be leased by Comcast to its subscribers but is expected to eventually become a retail product. It will be available in early 2009.

The AnyPlay device is the latest technical collaboration between Comcast and Panasonic, which have previously worked together on digital-cable set-tops and digital-cable-ready HDTV sets that allow viewers to access premium programming without set-top boxes.

AnyPlay combines technology already used in Panasonic’s portable DVD players with the CableCARD security technology developed by the cable industry, which Cable Television Laboratories is now branding to consumers as “tru2way.”

It incorporates DVR functionality into a Panasonic portable-DVD-player platform and features 60 gigabytes of DVR capacity, an 8.5-inch folding LCD-display screen, integrated stereo speakers and dual audio-headphone jacks to give the option of personal viewing.

The device will function as a standard DVR set-top by being placed in a companion docking station, which connects to a TV and is outfitted with a CableCARD port to control access to premium programming. When removed from the docking station, AnyPlay will allow recorded programs to be watched anywhere. The device -- which can be powered by the docking station, an internal battery or a 12-volt DC automotive adapter -- will also play back DVDs and audio CDs.

“Consumers have told us they want easy and convenient access to all of the great content Comcast provides, and the AnyPlay P-DVR does that,” Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. “Panasonic has been a terrific partner in working with us to develop products powered by tru2way technology that continue to support our vision for changing the way people watch television.”

“The Panasonic P-DVR is an example of Panasonic’s drive to expand its consumer-electronics offerings and support the Comcast AnyPlay initiative in the digital-cable area, first with our tru2way-enabled HD-DVR set-top box, next with the tru2way-powered plasma TV and now with the portable DVR with tru2way technology,” Sakamoto added in a statement.

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