Interactive Televisions Coming Soon From Panasonic

By: Christine Peppler

High definition LCD and plasma televisions have flooded the market in recent years; their slim profile and vibrant displays placing them high on the wish list of many consumers. Although the prices on these televisions have dropped considerably since their initial introduction, for buyers on a budget their purchase is still a significant step.

Unfortunately, those same spending conscious consumers, who are also frequent subscribers to basic cable programming packages, find that the financial commitment doesn't end with the television purchase. In order to get the clarity and vivid life-like display they saw on the show room floor, they must upgrade their cable service to get the HD signal they need. This often requires a set top box/cable company DVR and an extra $15 to $30 dollars per month. More clutter, higher expenditures for their home entertainment, and the added, often unanticipated complexity of scheduling additional installation rather than simply taking the television from the box, plugging it in, and playing it.

The DVR provided by cable companies in these instances do of course offer some attractive benefits. Such devices give consumers the interactive features they desire such as access to pay-per-view and on-demand programming as well as the ability to pause, rewind, and fast forward live TV.

It appears however that the future may hold a simpler and possibly less costly way to obtain the features consumers want. Manufacturers have been working to further develop and incorporate a new technology called Tru2way into televisions and other devices to give users access to the services they want without a dedicated set top box.

Panasonic, Samsung, LG, Intel, TiVo, Motorola, Cisco, and Microsoft have all reportedly been working to bring Tru2way technology into the real world. Panasonic recently announced that they will be introducing Viera HDTV models with a Tru2way technology that will eliminate the need for a stand-alone cable box. These virtual built-in cable set top box televisions will provide interactive features, reduce clutter, and eliminate the excess wiring associated with a separate box, while giving users control via a single remote regardless of which cable company is used for service. This will give such buyers the plug and play simplicity that old CRT sets receiving an analog signal provided some years ago.

These interactive digital cable enabled televisions from Panasonic will reportedly be on the market by late 2008. Panasonic has also reported that an HD DVR set top box for those not in the market for a new television and portable DVR devices with Tru2way technology should be ready for release in the near future as well. Such devices will provide greater entertainment portability as well as interactive features. Hopefully for consumers additional manufacturers will begin offering similar products, making the process of getting the home entertainment consumers want less complex and more affordable.

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