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 on Panasonic's pledge to 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 TiVo HD DVR.
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 TH-42PZ80U and TH-50PZ80U, it looks as if the new technology will cost consumers a premium of $500 to $670.
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 Sony, Samsung, and RCA--are planning to release Tru2way products in 2009 and beyond.
So my prediction that we don't see (Tru2way TVs) until sometime in 2009 was dead wrong. But, to my mind, the technology still needs to address three key points before it's truly ready for the mass market: … Read more