Free TV Gadgets Revealed, but are they worth it?

Portable TV

Plenty of portable, battery-powered televisions are being sold but according to Yahoo News, the problem is that they are also being returned at extremely high rates.

The trouble with the little TVs is that the moment you move, you lose the signal. Digital TV signals are designed to be received by stationary antennas, if that antenna moves, the signals become gibberish.

The solution to the problem just might be a new type of TV signal known as Mobile DTV. TV broadcasters are starting to roll out the new signal and many cities already have a couple of stations live.

Audiovox (one of the companies manufacturing the mini TVs) has said that it will build receivers for those signals into its portable TV sets this year, joining other manufacturers who trotted out Mobile DTV gadgets at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

What does that mean for consumers? For the first time they’ll have an array of Mobile DTV gadgets to choose from. This year’s sales figures might well be crucial as the technology’s future is far from certain.

At the show, most showed Mobile TV gadgets that add a receiver to a device that already does something else. Like Valups, a Korean company, who is making an antenna that plugs into the iPad’s connection port, turning it into a 9.7″ inch portable TV with no Internet connection necessary.

iMovee Corp. of San Diego was also at the show with the Mobeo. The gadget, about the size of a smart phone, grabs a Mobile DTV signal and rebroadcasts it over Wi-Fi so that it can be picked up by iPhones, iPads, and Android phones and tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Cydle, another Korean company, has a Mobile DTV receiver of their own that doubles as an external battery for an iPhone, providing both a TV signal and extra power. The company also showed a car navigation unit that doubles as a TV set. We hope it’s not meant for use while driving, though the sight of taxi drivers watching TV while driving is common in some countries, including Taiwan.

The only other big-name manufacturer betting on Mobile DTV is LG Electronics Inc., which launched the first Mobile DTV gadget in the U. S. late last year. The product was a portable DVD player that did double duty as a TV set. LG also displayed Android smart phones with extendable antennas at the show, which are able to receive Mobile DTV without any add-on gadgets. At this time though, no U. S. wireless carrier has signed up to sell the phones, focusing instead selling wireless broadband and not having much interest in providing customers with a way to tune into free signals.

Some carriers have experimented with paid mobile TV though. AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless teamed up with The Open Mobile Video Coalition. The company, which represents broadcasters and equipment makers, points out that Mobile DTV is different because it’s free and it has local channels, including news and traffic. In a trial held last summer, people were found watching Mobile DTV in a surprising place: home. Apparently people found it convenient to have a small portable screen for casual viewing in others places in their home besides the living room.

Some say if Mobile DTV is going to catch on, it had better do it quick. Fewer people watch broadcast TV compared to cable or satellite, causing the Federal Communications Commission to start looking at ways to encourage (or pay) broadcasters to shut down their TV towers and turn their airwaves over for mobile broadband use.

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About The Author

Michelle is a freelance writer, editor and blogger who is a self-proclaimed geek and fangirl. She has always loved tv, especially action driven dramas and sci-fi. It all started when she was a little girl with shows like Tales From The Gold Monkey and the original Battlestar Galactica. She and her friends used to act out their favorite episodes using lawn furniture and stuffed animals as props. These days she still loves action driven dramas and sci-fi, with a little bit of comedy and horror thrown in the mix as well.