New DTV Tuner for TVs and VCRs

Earlier this month ALPS Electric Co. Ltd released specifications for its new "TDH" series of DTV tuners. ALPS manufactures many of the tuners used in consumer electronics. The addition of these new DTV tuners to the product line should make it easier for manufacturers to add DTV reception capability to their products. FCC rules will require this in larger TV sets by 2005. Sample shipments of the tuners are scheduled to begin this month. ALPS plans to ramp production of the TDH tuners up to 200,000 units per month by December. The Japanese version demodulates the 8K COFDM Japanese DTV format, the European version demodulates 2K and 8K COFDM, and the U.S. model demodulates 8-VSB and QAM, which is used for digital cable. Only the U.S. model offers an analog reception option.

The tuners provide an MPEG transport stream output and an RF AGC monitor output for monitoring signal strength.

As I will discuss in my next RF Technology column in TV Technology, many current DTV tuners fail to offer the interference rejection used in the FCC and ATSC DTV planning factors. Neither the ALPS press release or the TDH data sheet provide any specifications for sensitivity, interference rejection or equalizer length, so it is impossible to determine how these tuners will perform for real world over-the-air DTV reception. The ALPS press release said the small size of the TDH was achieved integrating the phase-locked loop circuitry, mixer, oscillator, and all other tuner functions into one IC.

The price for sample units is 25,000 Japanese Yen, or about US$216 at current exchange rates.