LG finally brings mobile digital TV hardware to the States

Mobile Digital TV is still about a year away from mainstream adoption, but major strides were made in 2009. Now on the last day of the year, consumer electronics company LG has announced it will finally be showing off Mobile DTV products at the Consumer Electronics Show.

The mobile DTV concept has been developing for more than three years, but only began to seriously take off in the last four months, after the Advanced Television Systems Committee approved the A/53 ATSC Mobile DTV standard.

Using a portion of the existing 19.4 megabit-per-second DTV channel capacity to transmit data, the Mobile Digital TV standard relies on vestigial sideband (VSB) modulation for IP-based transport of MPEG AVC (H.264) video and HE AAC v2 audio (ISO/IEC 14496-3).

LG partnered with Samsung in 2008 to assist in the development of the ATSC standard, and introduced its first compatible receiver chips in April, with the launch of the first ATSC mobile DTV deployment.

Those chips went into mass production in June, and LG has put them to use in the product which we'll see at CES next week. It's nothing challenging yet, but rather a logical point of entry; a portable DTV/DVD/CD player with a 7" QVGA screen called the DP570MH. Like many other portable DVD players, it is a clamshell design, supports DVD, CD, and WMA playback and can also display JPEG photos, suitable for use in the car and other methods of travel.

However, one aspect of the player speaks to the infancy of mobile DTV: the device's battery life. As a DVD player, the DP570MH can be used for 4.5 hours which is about normal, but as a DTV receiver, it's only useable for 2.5 hours.

HTC's PTV 350 receiver, by contrast, promises 5 hours of continuous viewing of Qualcomm's subscription-based FLO TV. Video streams over both FLO TV and ATSC are 320 x 240 QVGA with between 15-30 frames per second. Both receivers will cost $249, but only ATSC mobile DTV will be available free of charge. Though it lacks a monthly service charge, users can only view local affiliates with a mobile broadcast. FLO TV has national content partners who provide the same service everywhere there is a connection.

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