New mobile TV products at CES

There's plenty of good news for broadcasters at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). No, I’m not talking about 3-D television; I’m talking about mobile TV.

Lamented in my article, “Analog died while I was running” back in June 2009 about the loss of analog TV audio, I miss being able to listen to broadcast television on a portable receiver. Since the death of analog, my small running radio, which included an NTSC audio receiver, became more of a historic icon, than my running companion. In its place I substituted a Sirius satellite receiver. It’s great, but a satellite receiver can’t provide coverage from my local television stations. It appears that RCA may have provided me with a new option.

At CES, RCA launched a new line of portable digital television receivers that can receive both Mobile DTV (MDTV) and standard (ATSC) digital TV signals. The product lineup includes 3.5in and 7in pocket televisions and an innovative automobile tuner for car infotainment systems.

The RCA 3.5in Hybrid Portable Television, Model DMT335R, carries a suggested retail price of only $109. The company describes it as having a bright LED backlit LCD screen and operates on AC power or up to four hours on rechargeable AA batteries. The receiver has a real-time signal strength indicator, closed-captioning capability, easel back stand, English/Spanish display and monopole antenna.

The 3.5in model DMT336R has a suggested retail price of $149 and also sports a widescreen, ultra-bright LED backlit LCD screen, hybrid ATSC or Mobile DTV reception, FM radio reception, AC power or up to four hours of playback time on internal Lithium Polymer battery, real-time signal strength indicator, closed-captioning capability, easel back stand, English/Spanish display and monopole antenna. This one looks like my solution for my outside athletic activities.

The largest RCA portable television is the 7in model DMT270R with a suggested retail price of $169. It has a higher resolution 800 x 480 widescreen LCD screen featuring 500:1 contrast ratio. It operates on either AC power or up to three hours on a built-in Lithium Polymer battery. It has a real-time signal strength indicator, closed-captioning capability, an easel back stand, English/Spanish display and 360-degree adjustable antenna.

If you already have one of those high-end in-car entertainment centers, the model DMT3BR at $119 may be for you. It features a design that is smaller than a deck of cards, captures either ATSC or Mobile DTV signals and is powered by car charge. It connects to the car’s infotainment system's audio and video input jacks and is complete with remote control and a monopole antenna.

The OMVC says that almost 70 stations are now broadcasting MDTV. For a map, check here. There seems to be a lot more noise being generated about mobile DTV in the last six months.

Despite Qualcomm’s exit from the mobile TV market, new programming has come online. The joint venture called Mobile Content Venture was announced last November. The organization includes 12 broadcast groups: NBC, Fox, ION and Pearl Mobile DTV. Members of Pearl include: Belo, Cox, Scripps, Gannett, Hearst, Media General, Meredith, Post-Newsweek and Raycom.

The OMVC also announced the organization’s first nonbroadcast members. That list includes Harris, Dell, LG Electronics and Samsung Mobile.

“It is fitting that, as the Mobile DTV industry evolves from the experimental stage into active business planning, our organization expands its membership,” said Vince Sadusky, president and CEO of LIN Media and president of the OMVC. “The charter members we are announcing today have been with Mobile DTV from its earliest days, including the just-completed Consumer Showcase in Washington, which demonstrated the capabilities and viewer appeal of Mobile DTV.”

“Dell has been involved with Mobile DTV since its earliest days, and are working closely with OMVC to deliver additional mobile DTV options to consumers, who increasingly view their laptops, tablets and smart phones as gateways to entertainment,” said John Thode, Dell’s vice president and general manager of mobility products. “Later this year, we expect to introduce new products with integrated mobile DTV solutions, allowing people to stay connected to all the great content they love.”

“As a co-developer of Mobile DTV technology, Harris is among the first companies to produce transmission equipment for Mobile DTV, and we look forward to improving the end-to-end system for delivering TV programming to mobile users,” said Jay Adrick, vice president of broadcast technology for Harris.

More than a dozen other companies released MDTV products at CES. To support the launch, local Las Vegas television stations provided 17 mobile DTV channels of entertainment and information.