Panasonic Bombs Tru2way Certification Tests: Report


Panasonic, one of cable’s key partners in developing TVs and set-tops based on the industry’s tru2way interactive specification, has failed CableLabs certification testing for the spec in dramatic fashion, according to sources cited by telecom-industry blogger Cynthia Brumfield.

Brumfield, on her IP Democracy blog, said Panasonic’s first tru2way TV units encountered “dozens and dozens” of bugs in testing to ensure compliance with the CableLabs Java-based interactive TV specification.

The testing of the Panasonic unit was a "disaster of spectacular proportions,” Brumfield said, citing unnamed sources.

Brumfield also said the glitches in Panasonic's tru2Way set were “so severe” that some even violate federal broadcasting laws. For example, she said citing sources “close to the testing,” Panasonic's tru2Way implementation permits users to disable alerts broadcast by the Emergency Alert System.

The unusually poor results indicate that Panasonic’s first tru2way-based products won’t be ready in time for the 2008 holiday shopping season, according to Brumfield’s post.

However, late Wednesday, CableLabs issued a statement confirming that the consumer-electronics maker has entered an upcoming certification wave which “provides ample time for products to reach the marketplace to meet the company’s rollout schedule.”

Representatives for Panasonic did not respond to requests for comment.

Panasonic had announced plans to introduce tru2way plasma-screen TV sets at in test markets starting in September. That would already have been nearly two years after Comcast and Panasonic said they were initially testing TVs running the OpenCable Application Platform (the former name for tru2way).

As recently as Monday, cable industry officials were still claiming Panasonic is on track.

National Cable & Telecommunications Association president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow, in a presentation at the National Press Club, said that Panasonic’s tru2way plasma HDTV is “expected to be available at retail in the holiday 2008 season.” The CE manufacturer demonstrated three tru2way-based devices at the event.

At the 2008 Cable Show last month in New Orleans, Panasonic chairman and CEO Yoshi Yamada—sharing the stage with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts—touted the consumer-electronics giant’s work with cable on two-way technology.

Yamada noted that while cable has been trying to establish standards for two-way communications for more than a decade, the consumer-electronics industry is strongly behind the renewed tru2way initiative.

“Most importantly, the open architecture means that a lot of new creative applications are going to be developed,” Yamada said on a panel at the conference.