Funai to Launch ATSC DTV Set-Top Box With 'Smart Antenna' Technology

Although a prototype DTV tuner for ATSC reception with a CEA-909 interference controlling a smart antenna was demonstrated at NAB over two years ago, the first set-top box using this technology wasn't announced until last week.

ATI Technologies Inc. said Funai Electric will use ATI's XILLEON 226 and NXT2004 chips in its new STB4--E set-top box. The ATI press release announcing the STB4-E said it was the first to use the CEA-909 capability in the NXT2004 chip to electronically reposition a smart antenna for best reception. It did not say if a smart antenna would be included with the STB or who would manufacture them.

"ATI is proud to power this truly unique Funai STB400E set-top box--the world's first consumer electronics device to feature the revolutionary Smart Antenna technology," said Daniel Eiref, director of marketing for the DTV group of ATI Technologies. "Funai customers will benefit from great signal reception thanks to the combination of ATI's NXT2004 chipset and Smart Antenna technology, matched with the extraordinary video quality of ATI's XILLEON 226."

Takehiro Onomatsu, Manager of Funai's DTV project, praised ATI's technology, "As the world leader in TV products, Funai demands exceptionally high quality components for our consumer electronics products and we recognize ATI as a world leader in DTV reception and display technologies. Funai chose ATI based on the company's expertise in signal reception through Smart Antenna combined with exceptional visual quality plus deinterlacing functionality found in the industry-leading XILLEON 226."

The CEA-909 interface and the smart antenna technology were developed by NXTWAVE, which was acquired by ATI Technologies. I described how the technology works and provided some spectrum analyzer photos showing how it performed in my June 26, 2002 RF Technology Column--DTV Reception Advances at NAB2002.

While you may not have seen the name Funai on electronics., its products are sold under brand names Emerson, Sylvania, and Symphonic in the U.S. Look for this technology to show up in Funai products later this year. This may be Funai's first ATSC set-top box, as the Funai USA Web site did not list any set-top box products as of November 21.