Comcast Launching Portable DVR; Interoperable Across Other Cable Cos

Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) is announcing a couple of new converged devices at CES: it is teaming up with Panasonic and launching a portable DVR and a plasma TV with a built-in set-top box and both are designed to be interoperable and work with other cable companies.

According to WSJ, the portable DVR, called AnyPlay, allows consumers to take their TV recordings with them as they travel away from home. The DVR has an 8.5-inch display screen, and includes 60 hours of recording capacity, and can also play CDs and DVDs. It will be available in early 2009. While Comcast is offering the device to its customers, Panasonic says it can be used on the systems of other cable operators, the story says.

The Panasonic-made Viera brand HD TV features a built-in set-top box so that consumers won’t need to lease a separate box or a separate remote control from cable operators. Panasonic did not release pricing or other details about the TV.

Both of these devices are based on “tru2way” cable OS system (earlier called OpenCable Platform), and are meant as a joint effort against the threat of satellite and IPTV operators. The OS runs on digital cable set-top boxes and other devices, and major cable operators are just now beginning to deploy it.

Reuters: The cable industry, through its trade body NCTA, has been lobbying FCC to support Tru2way. Meanwhile Consumer Electronics Association supports a system known as Digital Cable Ready DCR+, and has argued Tru2Way is not completely open as it does not work with other non-cable video suppliers such as satellite.

AP: Comcast will roll out the Tru2Way platform in all its markets by the end of 2008. Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) Cable Inc. is even closer to completion. Comcast foresees “tru2way” branding on TVs, set-top boxes, PCs and other devices to signal their compatibility with cable systems.