Monday, February 15, 2010

KVUE-TV and Dell

Mobile Television Tested in Austin

KVUE-TV (ABC and Belo) and Dell are now testing mobile television in the Austin area. Dell and several other manufacturers including Samsung are developing diminutive digital televisions that can get TV reception almost wherever you wish, and local televisions are installing the technology to transmit programming to them.

KVUE-TV president and general manager Patti Smith says tests are going on right now in Austin. “We are currently transmitting mobile TV in a test with Dell,” Smith confirmed. “Through its membership in the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) and working with other likeminded broadcasters, our parent company BELO is invested in making mobile television a reality in all 15 markets in which it operates. In Austin, we are testing equipment with Dell so that we will be better prepared once we are ready to launch nationwide.”

If you set up your DTV converter with “rabbit ears” before the DTV conversion last June, you know that the signal can be iffy. A picture can freeze in pixels and go to black if the signal strength is too weak, or you don’t have your antenna pointed properly. So, how can a mobile TV capture such a signal?

It takes new, recently approved technology for both the transmitter and the receiver. TV stations in major markets are spending $75,000-$150,000 for new equipment for their towers that will transmit the digital signal within their assigned bandwidth.

On the other end Dell and other manufacturers will be offering new receivers. The new Dell Inspiron Mini 10 Netbook, Samsung Moment Mobile Phone from Sprint, LG Mobile Digital Television, and Tivit for Current Wi-Fi Phones are among current consumer devices. Manufacturers are promising high quality video from the tiny screens. Most agree a lap top computer will be the optimal portable TV device.

Research indicates, however, that younger viewers may prefer the smaller screens on their cellular phones. Further, they may be inclined to watch news and weather from that kind of receiver, rather than the same thing on a big screen in the den or living room. An Open Mobile Video Coalition survey in December, 2009 indicated that 65-percent of potential users are in the 18-29 years age group. They are “early adopters” and smart phone owners.

To be clear, this is not subscription or pay TV. This is live, free, over-the-air local television programming.

"The Dell Inspiron Mini 10 with built in Mobile DTV technology will be the perfect solution for watching local TV broadcasts on the go, like catching the morning news and weather while riding a commuter train," said John Thode, vice president, small screen devices, Dell. "Devices like the Inspiron Mini 10 are the multi-tool of personal technology for digital nomads who want to be connected and productive, but also want instant access to a great entertainment experience." (From Business Wire)

The first mobile television devices are expected to be on the market in April, 2010.

Austin is among only a handful of TV markets participating at this point, and only KVUE-TV is the only known station here. As of last month only 30 stations nationwide were on the air with mobile TV technology. Other Austin stations contacted by email did not respond immediately.

© Jim McNabb, 2010


King said...

Over 20 years ago I owned a hand-held portable TV that ran on 3 or 4 AA batteries and fit in the palm of my hand. We seem to be catching up to where we've already been.

Shawn Rutherford said...

It's possibly a newer, unreleased version of the Samsung Moment that has that capability, as my Moment does not. I believe that variety was on display at last month's, CES, though and with the Moment's AMOLED display, should be a beautiful picture.

I'm curious as to how clear/sharp the picture will be and also to how badly the signal will be compressed.

You may also notice that these have antenna's connected to the top (right) of the phone... my Moment does not currently have a port/slot/plug to support such an antenna, so these must not be the same model.

I would be curious to see how this works in relation to battery life. I've flashed a custom ROM into my Moment to extend the battery life. The original ROM utilized a generic battery management app that once modified, extended the battery life from 6 hours to 3 days.

Ah technology. It never ends and always changes.

shawn rutherford


shawn r.

Beyond Loop 410 said...

While the technology is evolving towards being able to stream or broadcast to mobile devices, viewable or interesting content to actually watch has lagged behind. Most of the programming to watch is on the premium side, I doubt folks will be willing to pay to watch on small portable devices. I have worked in the news business for over twenty-five years and personally find watching most news outlets a waste of time.

I find it interesting that stations are willing to spend $75-100k to retrofit their towers to simultaneously broadcast their signal to more devices without regard to lagging interest in their programming.

Perhaps I'm missing the point. Technology is good, programing is bad. Who will care?

NewsMcNabb said...

Editor's Note: In some ways we are reinventing the wheel because of the DTV conversion. I have an analog portable palm sized TV rendered useless now.

Left out of my post is this very important point: For a relatively small cost, TV stations will install this equipment to reach another audience and, thereby, create another revenue stream. The younger audience has abandoned the family-hour choosing their own media. As mentioned above, this audience will watch the portable screen, research says.

Also, broadcasters can measure the audience using these devices, leading to another revenue stream.

How long this phenomenon will last is hard to say.


shawn rutherford said...

As a follow-up, note... I'd rather have access to my netflix account on my phone, than hoisting an antenna and hoping for something to watch.

I'm with ya, Jim... I have a little portable lcd tv that's worth zero, now.

shawn r.