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PCTV gets legs

If it's true that three's a crowd, then the somnolent PCTV market looks like it's about to get pretty crowded. In the last month, Mirics, Siano and Telegent have announced OEM agreements that will embed their mobile TV tuners into mass-market laptops and nebooks. It appears that an affordable, low-power, integrated TV tuner was what the market was waiting for.

It's interesting that all of these support terrestrial TV standards, while only the Siano/NVIDIA solution supports mobile TV standards. Last year, the viability of a separate mobile TV standard in Europe was called into question when free-to-air DVB-T-enabled handsets made a surprise appearance in Germany and have since taken off, prompting Vodaphone to drop its subscription mobile TV service. Some in the industry believe that regardless of whether DVB-H earns a place as a platform for premium mobile TV, mobile TV won't take off until people can watch what they're familiar with — in other words, what's on their TV sets at home.

For more about the DVB-T/DVB-H mobile TV question, download DiBcom's technical analysis DiBcom DVB-T vs DVB-H 2008.pdf of the two standards. None currently support either flavor of North America's ATSC standard.

Mirics, Shanghai HDIC focus on Chinese terrestrial digital PCTV

Chinese viewers are the target market for the Mirics Semiconductor and Shanghai High Definition Digital Technology Industrial Company (HDIC) PCTV partnership. The companies plan to enable terrestrial HD DTV on portable PC platforms using China's DTTB standard. DTTB supports both SD and HD transmission modes, and free-to-air SD and HD content is already available in key Chinese cities, with major DTTB infrastructure build-outs continuing across China.

Mirics and HDIC are currently developing complete reference platforms targeting DTTB-enabled personal computer platforms such as netbooks and all-in-one PCs. The joint project will integrate Mirics’ FlexiRF tuner technology and HDIC’s low-power HD/SD dual-mode demodulators.

NVIDIA integrates Siano mobile TV receiver for multistandard mobile TV

Graphics processor company NVIDIA's next-generation Tegra netbook platform will integrate mobile TV with Siano Mobile Silicon’s multistandard mobile TV receiver chip, the SMS1150. Siano's SMS1150 multistandard receiver chip, embedded inside the new platform, enables both SD and HD mobile TV and supports DVB-T, ISDB-T, DVB-H, DAB, T-DMB and CMMB standards — opening up potential market opportunities pretty much everywhere in the world except North America.

NVIDIA demonstrated a live DVB-T broadcast on the new platform during last week's Computex show in Taiwan. "Siano's technology will enable us to offer our mobile platform to a wider global market. In launching a feature-rich platform, our focus is on enabling the ultimate end-user experience,” said Michael Rayfield, NVIDIA mobile business unit general manager.

Telegent, Topstar Digital target worldwide analog, DVB-T PCTV

Building on a contrarian formula (analog mobile TV) that has so far proved to be a winning one, Telegent Systems and Topstar Digital Technologies are joining forces to deliver TV-enabled netbooks and PCs that receive both free-to-air terrestrial analog TV and digital (DVB-T) signals. Both PC and netbook designs will be available in mass production later this year.

The choice of DVB-T as the sole digital TV standard reflects DVB-T's current position as the most commonly deployed digital terrestrial broadcast technology, with existing deployment in more than 35 markets and about 100 countries committed to implementing the standard. And with analog TV expected to still be broadcasting to more than 85 percent of the world’s population in 2012, the partners expect the hybrid PCTV design to maximize the market opportunity.

Unveiled earlier this month at Computex in Taiwan, Topstar’s 18in all-in-one PC was designed from the ground up for hybrid TV, with the entire system optimized for TV performance. “The high performance, low power and small size of Telegent’s PCTV technology has for the first time enabled us to reliably embed high-quality hybrid TV in our designs, simplifying the addition of this desirable but technologically complex feature,” says Topstar CEO Xiaobo Wu.

Topstar’s hybrid PC TV designs are based on Telegent’s TLG2300, which delivers DVB-T, worldwide analog TV and FM stereo. The single chip integrates the RF tuner, demodulator, decoder and a high-speed USB bridge and is available both in embedded half-mini PCIe card TV tuner and dongle implementations.