CES 2009: Comcast, Panasonic Team On Single-Remote Spec

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Las Vegas—Panasonic and Comcast said they’ll work together to bring universal-remote technology to the cable operator’s digital cable set-top box, allowing tru2way-enabled set-tops to interact with HDTVs and other devices.

The technology, HDMI-CEC, underlies Panasonic's Viera Link, which enables single-remote operation of Viera HDTVs and connected-home entertainment components, such as Blu-ray Disc Players and home-theater systems.

The companies will integrate HDMI-CEC technology with tru2way-enabled set-top boxes, allowing non-tru2way HDTVs and other consumer electronics devices to interact with the set-top boxes via the use of a single TV remote control and a single user interface. Panasonic and Comcast also said they are currently working with CableLabs on the standardization to adopt HDMI-CEC for next-generation set-tops.

According to Comcast, integrating the HDMI-CEC protocol with its on-screen program guide will allow set-top boxes to automatically configure connected home theater devices for optimal viewing and audio experiences. Other interactive features include auto input-select and auto power on/off of all components.

Last fall, Panasonic and Comcast paired up on tru2way-based HDTVs in retail, with the first tru2way-based HDTVs shipped to a retailer in suburban Chicago and Comcast turning on tru2way support in Chicago and Denver systems.

"Panasonic and Comcast are both committed to enhancing the user experience by enabling consumers to control all of the functions of their home entertainment systems with a single remote and user interface," Paul Liao, chief technology officer for Panasonic North America, said in a statement.

Comcast senior vice president of video product development Mark Hess said, "When the consumer electronics and cable industry work together, the consumer is the real winner. We're pleased to continue our collaborative work with Panasonic to develop products that will seamlessly connect consumers' home entertainment experiences with all of the features and services they want and expect from cable."

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