Panasonic and Comcast Join Forces in Marriage of Home Theater Convenience

Panasonic executives present Comcast CEO Brian Roberts with first OCAP-compliant digital cable box.

Panasonic announced a major agreement with Comcast, the nation's largest cable-TV provider, to cooperate on a series of digital set-top boxes compliant with the OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP). When used together with OCAP-compliant Panasonic products (TVs, DVD players, and so forth), the boxes will allow easy, single-remote control of an entire home theater system.

Panasonic will manufacture the boxes for Comcast, though Comcast will be free to use Panasonic's "middleware" (a kind of embedded software) on its own. The first of these cable boxes will include 250-gigabyte high definition DVRs and H.264 (a flavor of MPEG-4) decoding capability, which will allow Comcast to deliver larger amounts of high-definition programming than would be possible with the older, less efficient MPEG-2 coding. Other features include three digital tuners and a cable modem for Internet capability. Panasonic expects to supply 250,000 of these boxes to Comcast.

On a (slightly) more conventional note, Panasonic wowed the multitude with its 103-inch, 1080p plasma display, which it says will be a real product. No delivery date or price was announced, but chances are that if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it.

ces06_0_panasonic_5_400x300.jpg Panasonics 103-inch, 1080p plasma panel

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