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Two-way Cable Cards Ushered in by Sony

by May 28, 2008
Tru2way - two-way CableCARDs at last!

Tru2way - two-way CableCARDs at last!

This just in from the "better-late-than-never" department: Sony has negotiated a deal to allow for itself and other television manufacturers to integrate two-way CableCARD technology into television sets. This new technology (which should have been announced, perfected, and released years ago) is dubbed "tru2way" and finally brings two-way technology to the completely stalled, but now mandatory, CableCARD revolution. To-date, the problem with CableCARDS has been that they lacked two-way communication - meaning they lacked program guides, Pay-Per-View, on-demand, interactivity, and any of the many other features that make cable set-top boxes work. All that is about to end and Sony has apparently helped usher in the future of the advanced two-way technology.

For a Primer on CableCARD technology, please see our article on the subject.

The problem with two-way CableCARDs has never been the technology, but the paranoid legal stalling by the CableTV industry. With the release of two-way technology, the cable industry is effectively opening itself up to all sorts of security risks with regard to accessing pay content. Because of this a strict and specific set of implementations guidelines was needed. This is the apparent reason the excessive delay in bringing the technology to consumers.

Now that CableCARD finally has the ability to allow manufacturers to include all the features of a cable company's services, you can expect some really cool set-top boxes to hit the market. I, for one, can't wait as I hate the fact that my cable company's idea of innovation is the inclusion of a "Start Over" feature - the first real feature change to their set top boxes in over 7 years. TiVo, hailed by many as the perfect set top box, is great - but I'd rather get that kind of intuitive service without the hassles of an additional monthly fee.

Signing on to the deal were Cox, Time Warner, Comcast, Charter, Cablevision, and Bright House - the six big companies behind CableTV. At CES this year, Panasonic announced a deal with Comcast to integrate tru2way into its Viera LCD line, but this agreement by Sony is the first to include an acceptable set of terms which includes all 6 major CableTV companies. Sony also made the agreement "open" so that any other manufacturer can sign on using the same arrangement. This effectively eliminates any remaining hurdles for two-way CableCARD technology to hit consumers.

Tru2way is an idea that has been around for years, but never implemented due to the reasons mentioned above. It's essentially a "middleware stack" meaning that it is software that resides between the actual application and the operating system, thus allowing for any amount of customization of the interface, DVR functionality, program guide, etc, while still being able to interact with the CableTV provider's data and services.

While we don't yet know how this new technology will look, it's almost certain to be good for consumers who have been hamstrung by a lack of innovation in this sector for far too long. At long last the CableTV companies will be able to focus on broadcasting and distributing television while consumer electronics manufacturers are finally freed to do what they do best. Let's hope these products hit the market and mature quickly.

About the author:
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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Recent Forum Posts:

10010011 posts on May 30, 2008 15:13
Hi Ho, post: 418105
My Dish DVR doesn't have a card in it. I also have not seen cards in any new Dish or DirecTV receivers I have installed for customers.

My brother has Direct TV and still has a card in his receiver. I also know people with Dish Network that have cards in them too.

I believe the past has shown them how easy the smart cards were to defeat so they have been moving to a lease the box not own it system.

These boxes have a card embedded inside someplace, or the “card guts” are just built in.
Hi Ho posts on May 29, 2008 20:56
10010011
As far as I know Dish Network and Direct TV are still using smartcards.
My Dish DVR doesn't have a card in it. I also have not seen cards in any new Dish or DirecTV receivers I have installed for customers.
10010011 posts on May 29, 2008 16:13
bandphan, post: 417789
currently using cc in my display and have installed tivoS3 with cable cards, and was hoping that comcast would impliment 2 way on the M card i currently use.

Nope, as I stated before your Tivo or TV would have to already have a built in cable modem for two way communications.
10010011 posts on May 29, 2008 16:07
yettitheman, post: 417775
Funny trend:
Years ago… cable could be done without cards.. now they want to use them.
Years ago… sat was done with cards (except old C-Band… wow), now DISH and DTV have moved away from them.


Funny.

As far as I know Dish Network and Direct TV are still using smartcards.

In reality the cable companies do not want to use them anyway, the government had to force them to.

Cable box rentals are a large source of income for cable companies, and there is that ever important “living room presence”. They want you to see that Comcast logo on the box every time you look at your TV to remind you that without them your life would be dull and boring…
bandphan posts on May 28, 2008 23:26
10010011, post: 417633
I don't understand what you are saying.

You currently have a Tivo S3 with an “M” card and you are hoping for it to be true 2-way compatible when the cards come out?

Not going to happen, least not with a card alone.

Comcast and Tivo are working on a device that will plug into the USB port on S2 and S3 Tivo's to make them compatible with SDV. This device also has the promise of making them fully On-Demand and PPV compatible, I am not sure about the guide.

currently using cc in my display and have installed tivoS3 with cable cards, and was hoping that comcast would impliment 2 way on the M card i currently use.
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