Sinclair Broadcast Group, which in the past has expressed concern about the performance of DTV receivers, last week announced that informal tests of fifth-generation prototype receivers reveal significant improvements that will translate into better over-the-air DTV reception using simple indoor antennas.
Sinclair had sounded an alarm over previous generations of DTV receivers, especially their ability to receive signals with strong dynamic multipath and varying signal levels.
Nat Ostroff, Sinclair’s vice president of new technology, said that broadcasters and consumers can now look forward to a robust DTV service delivered over-the-air without having to subscribe to cable or satellite.
He added that this is especially timely because of the FCC-mandated roll-out of millions of large-screen HDTV receivers with integrated over-the-air tuners beginning this summer.
In May, Zenith and Sinclair jointly conducted informal field tests in Baltimore to test reception at sites Sinclair identified as having difficult multipath conditions. Reception at many of these sites was unsuccessful with previous generations of DTV receivers, according to Sinclair.
The results of the new trials show dramatically improved reception with the receiver built around a new DTV chip developed by Zenith’s parent LG Electronics, according to Sinclair.
The innovations in the fifth-generation integrated circuit allow it to lock onto signals in severe multipath environments, even when the ghosts have long delays or are larger than the main signal.
Data was collected from multiple DTV stations at numerous sites, including parking garages and sidewalk locations, many without direct line-of-sight to the transmitter. Simple indoor antennas were used to investigate improvements made in indoor reception and ease-of-use in moderate and strong signal areas.
When the fifth-generation receiver is introduced in digital HDTV receivers later this summer, customers will be able to tune multiple digital channels on simple indoor antennas without having to change the orientation of the antenna. The fifth-generation ATSC chipset is tightly integrated with the tuner allowing greater cost savings.
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