Although recent studies indicate the number of consumers receiving video services over-the-air from TV stations has stopped dropping and may even be increasing, "wireless TV" gets little respect. An recent article caught my attention — Amazon Bestsellers in Televisions list showed the Haier HLT71 in sixth place. In fifth place was the Axion AXN-8701 7-inch handheld model with built-in tuner. Just ahead of that was a 15.6-inch Toshiba LCD model. Not too bad for an old fashioned free off-air TV set. The Amazon site listed a "most gifted" category, in which the Axion portable TV, at $79.99, was in ninth position.
More support for off-air TV and TV-on-the-go came from Hauppauge. The company reported its Second Quarter and Six Month Financial Results last week.
"We have recently introduced our WinTV Extend software, which brings live TV to portable devices such as the iPhone and iPad," said Ken Plotkin, Hauppauge CEO. "Under development are new high-definition TV tuners for the European, North American and Australian markets. In addition, the company is getting ready to launch a TV tuner for the new mobile digital TV standard in the United States, ATSC M/H. We are quite excited about these new programs and the opportunities which we see going forward."
Reporting on market reaction to the new Hauppauge devices, Barron's published an article last Friday titled "Hauppauge Digital Soars; Has Live TV Support For iPad, iPhone."
The purchase of portable DTV receivers on Amazon and the market interest in Hauppauge's move into portable TV, whether by streaming from home receivers over the Internet or, in the near future, through ATSC Mobile DTV over-the-air should call into question the FCC's plans to take 120 MHz (20 channels) from TV broadcasting. Without question, such a move will result in fewer choices for the people buying those portable DTV sets in the most congested TV markets -- California, the northeast and the Midwest. It could thwart broadcasters' plans to provide programming to portable, mobile and handheld devices in these areas. With wireless carriers placing 5 GB per month caps on their expensive "unlimited" Internet plans and talking about usage based pricing, it's unlikely you'd be able to get much more than a month worth of wireless Internet video for the one-time $79.99 cost of that Axion portable TV.
Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.
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