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Sony + Tru2way = No More Set-top Boxes?

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Sony has joined forces with six of the top cable companies in the U.S. to adopt tru2way technology in its TVs, thus eliminating the need for a set-top box when accessing television and other interactive services. Apple, Netflix, Sezmi and anyone else working on a set-top box should be nervous.

Sony isn’t the first TV manufacturer to jump on the tru2way bandwagon. Samsung, Panasonic and LG have all signed licensing agreements to use the technology in TV sets that will go on sale as soon as the upcoming holiday season. Sony’s participation is a little different from those previous arrangements as it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter, Cablevision and Bright House Networks that commits everyone involved to using tru2way, sets certain milestones and even allows consumer electronics companies to be more active in establishing the tru2way standard.

Combined, those cable systems reach 82 percent of all U.S. cable subscribers. Now that is an install base.

An open java-based platform, tru2way allows developers to create all manner of interactive applications (like games, or eBay notifications, or interactive guides) for the television. The standard allows developers to write the application once, and have it run on any cable system.

The technology is being rolled out throughout the year on set-top boxes, but tru2way TV sets from Sony and other manufacturers means that cable boxes could become a thing of the past. Plug your connection directly into your TV and get your HD, DVR, programming guide, VOD and more all in one place.

I’ve written before that cable and satellite companies have a leg up in the set-top space because they are already in the home, and agreements with big, brand name companies like Sony will just accelerate their lead. TiVo is smart to move into licensing its interface as there will be no need for its box. And with studios like Warner Bros. releasing all of its movies on VOD day-and-date with DVD, what will you need an Apple TV for?

Of course, the cable industry could wind up being its own worst enemy, bungling the implementation, confusing customers or charging exorbitant fees. But if people are at all like me, laziness will trump all that and we’ll just use what’s already plugged into our TVs.

11 Responses to “Sony + Tru2way = No More Set-top Boxes?”

  1. Color me extremely skeptical. Mostly because it’s the cable companies, the gang who couldn’t shoot straight, provide decent customer service or reasonable pricing. Next – it’s java based? That in itself is laughable and problematic. What about malicious attacks. Java is just not secure. As for internet use, what about ISPs placing caps on their bandwidth? You put untold thousands of cable subscribers on tru2way hogging bandwidth and the ISPs will have a fit.

    Finally, we have to buy new TVs enabled with tru2way??? We JUST upgraded to HDTV. Are they kidding? If I refuse, does that mean I have to buy a tru2way set top box defeating the tru2way “no set top box” business model?

    I’m a little tired of these technological flights of fancy from these format pinheads. First, it was DVD vs. Divx, then HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray, now tru2way – which, BTW, sounds like lame kitchen appliance. It also means little that Sony has signed on. Toshiba, Microsoft and HP tried to push HD-DVD on us unsuccessfully.

    “For cable TV, ditching set-top boxes won’t be easy” – MarketWatch

    • Carl, first and foremost your ramblings about the cable company are idiotic, unless you’ve been with every cable subscriber in the US you have no grounds to stand on with your bad customer service rant and your unreasonable pricing problem. Java based I can understand, but for what it’s worth, all set tops for the past 10 years or more have been powered by Java. That’s the chosen platform of the cable world and has been for more than a decade. If it’s a closed network, like a cable system is, it’s fine. Your cable box has a 10. IP Address that cannot be accessed from anyone outside that network, so your hacking/security issue is null and void.

      As for NEEDING to buy a Tru2Way TV, you will NEVER need to buy one, unless you want to have a all your 2 way features without a cable box (great for wall mounting and things of that nature). ALL set top boxes are 2 way, that’s the point in having a set top box over a cable card at the moment, you get VOD, you get Guide Functionality, You get Switched Digital Video and Start over. Where as with current cable cards you do not.

      Lastly, your Technology war argument is retarded. Do you want to live in an age where we don’t have choices? and we don’t have competition? because if that’s the case you should start your own socialist country. Competition is the road to progress.

    1. it’s more likely that TVs will become peripherals for PCs/Macs, rather than TVs replacing a smart set-top box equipped with HDDs, multimedia streaming, internet, torrent capabilities (they are already like small PCs)

    2. replacement rate in TV sets is lower than in smaller peripherals (lets say set-top boxes), therefore the possibility for innovation (=adding new features) is limited with these ones :-)

    3. having your DVR/PVR java based is… no comment :-)