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Panasonic Rolls Out Tru2way Television Sets

Panasonic last week 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 tru2way interactive services standard for consumer electronics devices. Formerly known as the OpenCable Application Platform, the technology has been in development for more than a decade.

Panasonic's first tru2way-enabled Viera plasma HDTVs include a cable receiver — eliminating the need for a separate set-top box — that should theoretically work with any cable system that supports the specification.

Panasonic said the tru2way-certified 42- and 50-inch Viera HDTVs are now available at Abt Electronics in Glenview, Ill., and will be available at Chicago-area 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,” Comcast senior vice president of video product development Mark Hess said in a statement.

Tru2way also represents cable's desire to provide its own technology for consumer electronics makers to access two-way cable services, instead of the Federal Communications Commission imposing an alternate standard. The six largest operators have struck tru2way agreements with several CE manufacturers, including Panasonic, Samsung Electronics and Sony Electronics.

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 companies have heavily promoted their collaboration on tru2way, touting their plans at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and at The Cable Show in May.

Panasonic's 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 televisions feature 480-hertz sub-field processing to reduce image blurring, 1,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and a built-in SD memory card reader for playing back digital photographs.