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Tru2way Flashes Some Retail Hope

Tru2way may have a role at retail, after all, but perhaps just not as originally intended.

Instead of being built into retail digital TVs and set-top boxes -- a scenario that was seemingly dealt a death blow following news that Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC) was scrubbing its tru2way-based TVs -- cable's common middleware and headend platform may find the retail sledding easier when it comes to communicating on home networks with game consoles and other devices that speak the language of Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) . (See CableLabs Touts Tru2way DVR Interop and Panasonic Tunes Out Tru2way TVs .)

This revised scenario took some shape this week with word from CableLabs that it had hosted an interoperability event that demonstrated tru2way-based DVRs sharing pre-recorded content with other DLNA-certified devices, including a Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) Playstation 3. The 1.1 version of Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) was the physical layer used to share content over a simulated coax-based network. CableLabs has already approved DTCP-IP as a content protection layer for premium content. (See CableLabs, CEA Agree on DTCP-IP and MoCA Is Go for 2.0.)

The interop featured tru2way-based boxes from Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB) , Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Samsung Corp. , and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), communicating with DLNA-certified gear and components from Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), CyberLink Corp., Irdeto Access B.V. , NDS Ltd. , and Myriad Group. Of that entire roster, only one set-top vendor, ADB, has gained tru2way certification from CableLabs, a mark that's required for retail distribution. Panasonic and Samsung have both obtained tru2way certification on several TV models, but Panasonic is the only one that's tried to sell them. (See ADB Scores tru2way Certification.)

The interop, which comes several weeks after CableLabs released DVR and home networking extension specs for tru2way, also tested against Cox Communications Inc. 's tru2way-based "Trio" guide and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s OCAP Digital Navigator (ODN) 4.0. Among the two, Cox is getting ready to use Trio as the centerpiece of a new premium-level tru2way video tier that features a multi-room DVR service. (See Cox Guides Tru2way Forward and Cox Trots Out Tru2way Guide .)

Phil Bender, senior manager of vendor relations at CableLabs, says the interop was the first to focus exclusively on tru2way's new home networking components -- key to multi-room DVR applications -- and more are expected.

The hope is that tru2way can get some much-needed footing at retail by working within the DLNA universe, which is currently made up of more than 7,500 certified products. That work "kind of creates a bridge for cable to the DLNA retail world," says CableLabs VP and deputy general counsel Jud Cary.

Among some specific results from the interop, a Playstation 3 was able to access and display a cable interactive program guide and pre-recorded content residing on a tru2way set-top using DLNA and MoCA.

"Those [types of examples] were what we were looking for," says So Vang, CableLabs's VP of the tru2way platform. "For the most part, everything was working. The interop went better than what we had hoped for."

CableLabs hasn't decided when to conduct a similar interop, but it will probably take at least a couple of months for it and its partners to sort through the event, which took place from July 19 to July 23, and set up what needs to be verified in the next one.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:28:01 PM
re: Tru2way Flashes Some Retail Hope

tru2way at retail looks pretty much dead, but this makes it look like tru2way can at least participate somewhere in the retail world. Interops may be a good start, but wondering if it'll eventually get to the point that you can plug these things into the home network and they automatically recognize each other without requiring any interference or blessing from the cable operator. JB

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