Sony-Comcast Store Has Tru2way 'Set-Back' Box

A tru2way "set-back" box that Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) intends to sell alongside some of its Bravia high-definition digital televisions is one of the items that will be demonstrated at a new retail store in Philadelphia that will carry the Sony and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) brands.

Although this will mark the device's first presence at retail, the hideaway box, developed by Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB) , isn't for sale, at least not yet. (See ADB Develops Tru2way 'Set-Back' and Sony Drives ADB's Set-Back.)

A Comcast spokeswoman confirmed that the device is one of several items that will be demonstrated in the "future" labs portion of the 3,400 square-foot retail outlet. In similar lab settings, Comcast and Sony will also show off a 100 Mbit/s wideband Internet service based on the CableLabs Docsis 3.0 platform, and an "enhanced" cordless phone that hooks into the operator's cable modem service, and allows customers to check email and voice mail messages and access address books and a yellow pages application. (See Comcast Widens Wideband Footprint .)

They'll all be on display starting tomorrow when the "Sony Style Comcast Labs" outlet officially opens its doors and serves as a retail anchor at the Comcast Center, which is also home to the MSO's corporate headquarters. (See Sony, Comcast Rev Up Retail Store.)

Sony operates 40 Sony Style stores around the U.S., but this is the first (and only, so far) to be co-branded with Comcast or any other cable operator. For now, Comcast and Sony have no plans underway to launch any additional cooperative retail locations, according to the Associated Press.

Sony's cable commitment
The cable-focused retail launch marks Sony's latest public commitment to tru2way, a CableLabs spec that uses common middleware and headend components. Tru2way is also viewed as a path toward a more "open" retail environment for set-tops and digital TVs. (See Funai Makes Tru2way Play , Thomson Tees Up Tru2way Box , EchoStar Blazing Way to Tru2way , and More Firms Go the Way of Tru2way.)

Sony has yet to introduce any tru2way-based digital televisions of its own, but it's believed that the company intends to offer the CableCARD-based, TV-mountable ADB box as an option to customers who buy certain Sony-made Bravia TV models and also want to obtain digital cable services.

Sony has not responded to questions about when and how the company will market the ADB box, which obtained CableLabs certification last May and is outfitted with a middleware stack from ADB corporate cousin Osmosys SA . (See ADB Scores tru2way Certification.)

Sony rival Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC) has already obtained tru2way certification for two hi-def TV models, and is selling them in partnership with Comcast in Denver and Chicago. With proper authorization (via the CableCARD), those TVs can feed in the cable operator's digital lineup, its program guide, and interactive services such as video-on-demand (VoD) without the need for a separate cable box. (See Denver, Chicago First to Get Tru2way TVs.)

The Sony-Comcast retail partnership emerges roughly 10 months after the consumer electronics giant and several MSOs signed a binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) for tru2way.

Under terms of the MOU, five of the top six incumbent U.S. MSOs have agreed to provide network support for tru2way middleware and to support tru2way headends serving all digital cable systems by July 1, 2009. Charter Communications Inc. , one of the MOU "founders," has another year to fulfill that obligation. (See Sony Supports tru2way and Revealed: The Tru2way MOU.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:09:10 PM
re: Sony-Comcast Store Has Tru2way 'Set-Back' Box Any guesses on how Sony will market/sell this thing?-á I'll throw in a guess that-áSony, in tandem with-áComcast any any other partner MSOs, will-áheavily subsidize it just as Comcast and Panny are doing now with tru2way TVs...essentially removing the added tru2way costs (CableCARD slot, etc.) out of the equation since they'll be retaining or even adding a digital video sub in return.
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