CES 2012 – The Mobile TV Slant

Mobile TV World

By James Doyle, 1/14/12

The 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show had a little bit of everything – from Microsoft’s sexy new Ultrabooks to Justin Bieber plugging a dancing robot.

Fear that the geek’s version of Disney Land was losing its lustre were quickly dispelled as record numbers, 3000 +, flocked to Las Vegas to see what the worlds leading technology developers had to offer.

While there were no ‘eureka’ moments, unless I missed them, there was an impressive collection of TV’s, tablets and mobile phones that had evolved from previous years. It was particularly encouraging to find that mobile TV had clearly been in developer’s thoughts.

Mobile TV has firmly established itself as the ‘nearly man’ of the industry with its game-changing potential previously being confined to whispers and afterthoughts in developers dream factories. Nonetheless, Mobile TV had a strong presence at CES 2012.

The consensus is still the same – mobile TV is coming – where, when and in what capacity still remains a labyrinth of questions answered with questions.

Promising signs were evident, with a more than modest collection of companies launching mobile products specifically designed with dedicated mobile TV attributes, namely devices specialised for positive reception.

Optimistic noises were coming from developers, with TV stations covering much of the U.S.said to be board with mobile TV. Apparently, their aim is to deliver programming to phones, tablets and laptops using a standard from the body that oversees TV technology in North America.

Mobile Content Venture (MCV), who is promising two stations in each market and the Mobile500 Alliance, said they have agreements in place with equipment vendors and mobile operators.

While that’s a step north certainly, the continuing frustration is that devices that can receive programming on such scale can be counted on one hand – and even at that, it remains to be seen if the issues with distribution rights can be hurdled, with only two stations in each market.

A fair demonstration was put on by MCV and Mobile500, citing devices and apps that they stated would bring flawless mobile TV to consumers by the close of 2012.

Broadcaster-owned MCV, which consists of leading TV stations across America, as well as, NBC and FOX, spoke of a deal with Belkin, who will develop accessories that enable smartphones and tablets to access Dyle Mobile TV.

The Mobile500 Alliance, comprising of Sinclair and a cluster of smaller station faculties, featured two dongles for turning smartphones and tablets into receivers. Both dongle receivers were demonstrated with Apple iPads — a small, white one from our friends at Siano and a more diminutive black unit made by Elgagto. Both receivers registered local signals with ease.

Although Apple did not officially have a presence at the event, their influence could be viewed from as far as the eye could see, which is as fitting a tribute as you could give to Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief Executive who lost his fight with cancer earlier this year.

Other points of interest included an eye catching showcase of portable flat-panel TVs compatible with Dyle Mobile TV and ATSC broadcasts being unveiled by RCA.

Also, American mobile phone service provider MetroPCS communications said that a Dyle-capable phone will be available in 14 cities this year. MetroPCS, which operates the fifth largest mobile telecommunications network in the US with 9 million subscribers, has been a long term advocate of mobile TV.

Many developers have been reluctant to jump in the deep-end of the mobile TV pool, most in-fact have been petrifed to tap their toe in the water, but the general feeling in Las Vegas this year was that with increasing broadcaster and third party backing – at least they will have armbands on when they finally decide to make the plunge.

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