updated 10:00 am EDT, Fri October 16, 2009
ATSC Mobile DTV gets matching chip
The TV standards group ATSC today said its members have approved Mobile DTV, its over-the-air format made just for portable devices in North America. The gesture should let notebooks, smartphones and in-car units tune into free, live broadcasts of H.264 video even while moving at high speed. Although not HD, the format can run on existing digital TV networks without significant complications and is built to consume little power on the viewer's end.
It additionally supports paid TV and other services that would normally require a landline or satellite signal.
The technology is expected to pose a significant threat to FLO TV, Qualcomm's rivaling standard. While FLO TV is already in use for AT&T and Verizon phones as well as Qualcomm's new Personal TV player (pictured), it requires a paid subscription that has often been seen as a deterrent to wider acceptance of the format.
The ATSC hasn't said when it anticipates the first shipping products, but about 70 broadcasters should have test signals up and running before the end of 2009 and will have wider tests underway early next year.
LG is one of the earliest adopters and says it's already conducting trials using prototype GSM and CDMA phones along with a single-chip tuner, the LG2160A. It's slated to ship in a portable DVD player sometime in 2010 and should find its way into other mobile devices, including some in-car entertainment systems.
Samsung today also revealed that it has designed a single-chip Mobile DTV tuner that, even with a slightly older 65 nanometer process, is small and power-efficient enough to work in cellphones and suitably small devices. No mention has been made of whether its chip will be in mass production in time for trials or which products will use the new component.