Mobile DTV is gaining steam and it looks like it will be abundant at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.
DICE is readying a Mobile DTV tuner for a possible preview this October at the MERA Knowledgefest. Rydeen will show a Mobile DTV tuner at CES for shipping in early 2011. They join Mobile DTV tuners from NAV-TV and Accele, which is selling a Mobile DTV head unit.
Mobile DTV is simply local, broadcast TV that works on a portable device or in a car. It gives consumers the live news, entertainment, sports and weather they get on a home TV.
Since the FCC gave Mobile DTV a second clearance weeks ago, more vendors are revealing plans to launch products. Also, Mobile DTV’s competitor FLO-TV is not selling to plan and developer Qualcomm has put it on the sales block. A simple comparison between the two services is that FLO-TV requires monthly service fees and Mobile DTV does not. (But Mobile DTV requires that TV stations convert to the format). [See note from Audiovox below*]
DICE hopes to provide more details on its device by October with an official unveiling at CES in January.
Rydeen has been testing its RAC-100 tuner connected to a Kenwood AV head unit in Torrance, CA where one station is up and running in Mobile DTV. Rydeen president Phil Maeda said he’s happy with the picture quality although he added, “There were a few areas on the freeway when the signal strength was low, and therefore the picture was pixilated.” He believes that as more receivers come on the market there will be more reason for TV stations to improve their signal.
Accele recently began selling a double DIN head unit with a Mobile DTV tuner. It has a 6.2-inch touch screen and offers built-in navigation and Bluetooth with an option for a rear vision camera. Called the DIN200GPS ATSC, it sells for $999 with the Mobile DTV tuner representing a $300 premium to the consumer.
Rosen is studying the technology. “We are studying and feel the service has some upside but we want to make sure there is enough coverage and content in key markets. Many markets have limited stations broadcasting from what we’ve seen…The advantages of better picture quality and no service fees after the 1x equipment investment are enticing for sure,” said VP sales & marketing Steve Weimar.
NAV-TV announced it will offer a $399 Mobile DTV tuner called the MiTV that works with any aftermarket car video screen or with specific factory car screens. Concept Enterprises also plans to offer a Mobile DTV tuner this year.
The portable TV technology’s key drawback is that less than 50 TV stations are airing in the service, but that number should double by the end of the year.
Programs currently offered via Mobile DTV in a Washington DC test trail of the service include local NBC, Fox, and CBS programming plus MSNBC, CNBC, and PBS programming.
Photo: MiTV by NAV-TV
*Audiovox: The comparison is that FLO-TV provides premium content for a subscription fee, while DTV will provide local network TV in a mobile environment, with out a subscription. This is the same experience one has watching TV at home. Local channels are free and broadcast terrestrially, while the premium content is distributed by a cable or satellite provider on a subscription basis.