So you put off buying a high-def TV for years, because you weren’t sure they had gotten all the standards right. You recently gave in, thinking that the coming shut-off of analog broadcast TV in February meant that they had to have their technology figured out by now.
Of course, you were wrong:
CableCARD devices have generally supported only one-way access to cable systems, but their long, winding journey toward full two-way communications is finally coming to an end. Panasonic has announced that it is at last shipping new HDTVs enabled with tru2way technology to the two US markets where they can actually be used.
So what’s the main thing you’re supposed to get with tru2way?
This means that you can walk out of a retail store with a tru2way-enabled HDTV, plug it in at home, and have immediate access to basic features like an on-screen guide and on-demand content.
In other words, we are just now starting to see HDTVs that can just plug into the cable jack and work, without an add-on cable box and all the limitations that implies, right?
Well, not really.
All tru2way-compatible devices will have a CableCARD slot built into them to facilitate the decryption of protected content, though details are still sketchy as to how this system will work with devices like PVRs. Physical CableCARDs will apparently not be needed to access basic two-way services and non-encrypted channels.
Meaning that, in order to get anything you can’t get already with broadcast TV (“non-encrypted”), you still need a cable company tech to come out and install the CableCARD. And they don’t know how all of this will integrate with the new video recorders like TiVo.
Why is this so hard? It’s producer paranoia. If they don’t play these games, you might watch some show for free, or share it so others can watch it for free, instead of… well, watching it for free live. And you might cut the commercials out, instead of… cutting the commercials out by getting up for more chips during the commercial breaks. (But that’s stealing, so you shouldn’t do that either.)
Our family keeps edging closer to deciding to get a HDTV. But then I see stuff like this, and notice that the old tube TV still works fine…