Sony endorses plan to eliminate set-top boxes

Sony has signed a deal with five major cable TV operators in the United States that will lead to its use of Tru2way technology — making the company’s television sets capable of working without set-top boxes. The agreement follows a growing momentum behind the new technology that spans the entire consumer electronics industry.

The agreement, which has been embraced by other consumer electronics manufacturers like Panasonic, provides integrated two-way interactive digital and high-definition video services, according to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. It addresses how products will be brought to market with services like video-on-demand, digital video recording and interactive programming guides.

Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision and Bright House Networks signed the deal with Sony.

Sony will use Tru2way, a Java-based technology, for the interactive plug-and-play standard in its new television sets. Tru2way, which was formerly called OpenCable, is integrated into televisions, set-top boxes and other devices, and will allow companies to develop services that can be offered across all products that comply with the specification.

Tru2way includes a middleware technology that can be built into televisions, set-top boxes and other devices. The technology enables cable companies and other interactive application developers to write applications once and have them run successfully on any device that supports the Tru2way architecture.

At the recent Cable Show 2008, Panasonic showed its lineup of Tru2way-enabled products, such as an HD-DVR set-top-box, VIERA High Definition TV sets and a portable DVR (model TZ-LC100).