updated 06:20 am EST, Sun January 11, 2009
ATT CruiseCast at CES
Electronista tried out the new CruiseCast satellite-TV system previewed by AT&T at CES this week. The company will provide a satellite receiver and controller module to bring television channels onto backseat displays or other vehicle monitors. The external antenna is definitely noticeable, rising at least an inch above the roof rack, although the company intends to shrink the form-factor of future products.
The first potential shortfall of the service would be interrupted feed when the line-of-sight with the satellite is blocked, but the controller module buffers the data for up to three three seconds. While driving around in a test vehicle, the pre-release interface provided measurements indicating a low or lost signal. As tall buildings blocked the South sky, the buffer seamlessly corrected for the lost input without any perceivable delay or choppiness.
Initially the service will provide 22 standard-definition channels. The quality appeared close to the SD resolution provided by cable networks, sufficient when presented on relatively small screens that are typically found on the back of headrests.
Equipment to outfit a vehicle carries an MSRP of $1300, while the monthly subscription costs $28. The content includes such channels as Disney, Disney XD, Discovery Kids, Animal Planet, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network Mobile, USA, Comedy Central, MSNBC, CNN Mobile Live and CNBC. AT&T anticipates the system to become available sometime this spring.