When I write about Mobile DTV, I often get e-mail from readers asking where they can buy Mobile DTV receivers. So far, the choices have been limited – Amazon offers an LG DVD player, the Coby USB receiver and some in-car systems. At NAB, two companies announced immediate availability of Mobile DTV receivers. These receivers also include conventional ATSC reception, allowing less robust reception of stations that have yet to add a Mobile DTV stream.
Three portable receivers are available under the "RCA" logo. These include a 3.5-inch portable TV that can operate on 4 "AA" batteries – ideal to have on hand in case of a large earthquake or hurricane, a 3.5-inch portable TV with built in lithium battery and an FM radio tuner, a 7-inc TV with built-in battery, and an in-car DTV tuner/receiver. Suggested retail prices range from $119 for the battery operated portable to $179 for the 7-inch portable. Go to www.RCAPortableTV.com for more information and ordering. Units ordered during NAB should be shipped from California sometime next week.
I've referred to Hauppauge's Win-TV Aero-m USB ATSC/ATSC Mobile DTV tuner in previous articles, but much to the frustration of readers this handy tuner was not available for sale. The Win-TV Aero-m is now available for sale on Hauppauge's Web Store for the bargain price of $59. I have been using one of these tuners for Mobile DTV reception under Windows XP since receiving a sample from Hauppauge but haven't done extensive testing on how it compares with other ATSC USB tuners in conventional ATSC reception due to the lack of support in Linux. Hauppauge's other ATSC tuners are widely supported in Linux and I'm hoping that the Linux media developers add Win-TV Aero-m support now that the product is available at retail.
More products should be available soon. Valups showed its new "Tivizen" receiver for the iPod, iPhone and iPad and Cydle showed an iPhone cradle for Mobile DTV reception. Winegard showed its CioTV in-car media player with support for Mobile DTV and a wide range of other media. Pixtree, Crestech, and DTVInteractive (maker of the Coby tuner) showed a variety of USB Mobile DTV tuner sticks for netbooks and notebooks. Hauppauge also had small tuners on circuit boards that allow tablet and netbook manufacturers to easily add mobile DTV capability to their products.
As at CES, the receiver manufacturers wanted to know when more stations would begin broadcasting mobile DTV. 76 stations in 32 markets are on the air now. With the new mobile DTV broadcast equipment and lower priced equipment on display at NAB (see "Manufacturers Highlight Mobile DTV at 2011 NAB Show" in this RF Report), we should more stations adding mobile DTV streams. Mobile DTV quipment is not locked into one channel (exciters are frequency agile) so this is one product stations can buy now even if they have to change channels in the future. Discussions with other engineers, both at the station and group level, showed a high interest in rolling out Mobile DTV, even if business models were not yet clear.
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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