Short and simple
From the cable guy perspective, I see it as good and bad.
Good: The cable company's responsibility will be ensuring that your signal is good..... and that is it!
Bad: I just see it as another device that consumers will think can't possibly have a problem because they own it and "this is a brand new tv, it can't be the problem!"
Why I dont like it & the set-top should stay...
What about if there are issues or new formats, who knows, maybe mpeg5, then what, I have to buy a new HDTV. I wouldn't just sign off on those settop boxes just yet. Sounds cool until it isn't working properly, then what do I do?
Great idea Panasonic but I don't think standalone is the answer. I think, instead, these boxes could be tomarrows, high def, gaming system, net to HDTV interface (for playback of net videos such as Netflix, Movielink, etc.), Multiroom DVR (or just DVR) with separate output to record to VCR while watching another show, etc & as well as remote programming of it. I see more than just a settop box, what about a USB port for a racing wheel, we could play against other people in other households, that would be cool, also, Baseball, Boxing, etc. or a keyboard for quick IM'ing of friends. This wouldn't take away from other gaming systems such as Sony's PS3, Xbox 360, the Wii since they have games made for their systems specifically and they can play anyone, not just people on the providers network with a settop setup. The settop box can be much more than just the "so called" generic cable box while keeping TV simple.
As we get into more grand technology, keeping the price down will allow the cost to stay focused on the TV's picture quality. M-card support to avoid a box is one thing but this tru2way just drives the price up further when it could be focused, instead, on larger screen, higher detail, better quality, etc.