Monday, January 13, 2014
A number of weeks ago I wrote about mobile TV services being offered by a few local TV stations. To reiterate the basics for those who may have missed the article, the stations broadcast a parallel signal that can be received by special receivers allowing you to watch TV programming using a smart phone or tablet in your car or in other mobile environments. The standard digital TV signals used by your standard
can’t be received well in a moving vehicle.
Some of the local commercial stations have been running spots promoting
the service and a device called DYLE.
These spots have resulted in some confusion and questions. After watching the spots I can see why.
The spots show people going about their daily commute on a bus or train holding a tablet or smart phone and enjoying the morning TV news. What the spots do not show or mention is that the phone or tablet is not receiving these signal directly. Rather, there is a second device about the size of a pack of cigarettes that is required. That device, a mini DTV receiver, has a small whip antenna. It is this device, the DYLE mobile DTV receiver, which actually captures the broadcasts and via Bluetooth or other wireless connection sends the TV programs to your smart phone or tablet for viewing. So in order for this all to work you have to have both devices.
The special mobile DTV signals, while more robust than the standard DTV broadcasts, are prone to interference so the DYLE receiver, be it in a car, bus or train, must have the antenna near a window or better yet outside of the window to adequately capture the signals. The TV spot never shows this; rather it conveys the idea that you can watch the TV channels just like you might a YouTube video or other TV program from the internet. The DYLE website notes, “…you can even carry it in your pocket or your bag.” You sure can carry it there but it is very unlikely that it will actually work there.
Mobile TV has been around for a while. In fact, I served on the technical committee a number of years ago charged with establishing the national Mobile DTV Technical Standards so I know a bit more about this technology than the “average bear.” My opinion is that this technology at best will be slow to take off because it is complicated and clunky to use and soon will be replaced by services using expanded 4G networks. These 4G, and soon 5G networks, will allow for a much simpler user interface similar to the one described in the above mentioned TV spots.
I am bothered when I see technical products or services described so poorly or inaccurately. It raises the consumer’s expectations, creates frustration and results in the purchase of stuff that just doesn’t work well. Many new products do work as promised and give the consumer exceptional results. I fear DYLE is not one of them.