Saturday, January 28, 2006
First, your computer becomes a television, then your cell phone is next, and then all of your mobile devices are getting broadband digital TV. Mobile TV may be at an early stage, but it is poised to penetrate almost every aspect of our lives. There is a real battle shaping up for digital broadcast video, and it is probably too soon to tell who is going to win our hearts and handsets just yet. Part of the fight is between these scary sounding acronyms: DVB-H, ISDB-T. T-DMB, DVB-T, DAB, and ATSC, which we will discuss later.
Imagine sitting on the train, during the evening rush hour, watching breaking news, seeing a hot new music video, or talking with, and seeing, your daughter halfway across the country in Iowa on your cell phone. It is a brave new digital video world. And it is coming fast to cell phones and all mobile devices. The mind boggles at what is possible, such as interactive video games, newscasts, real-time weather, sports, and surfing the web to check out a dinner menu to that new Chinese restaurant downtown. Samsung has new phone with a 7 megapixel camera and big screen that will change the way we think about watching television on a telephone.
One of the unfortunate side effects of new advances in technology and entertainment is an onslaught of scary new terminologies. By now, given the inroads that computer technology has made into the fabric of America, most everyone knows what IT, IP, and HTML stand for, but there are probably very few who are comfortable with the new smorgasbord of acronyms such as DVB-H, and ISDB-T, T-DMB, DVB-T, DAB, and ATSC, which deal with the rapidly changing world of digital TV.
The ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) signal that the United States and South Korea have adopted can transmit to your 42-inch plasma HDTV, but not to something moving, like your cell phone in fast train. But the ISDB (Terrestrial Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting) format that Japan has adopted can transmit to both a fixed television, and a moving target, like a handset on the freeway. The fight between these differing standards seems to arise from their countries of origin. If the patent holders can convince their governments to use their technology, then they reap the rewards. In the struggle to bring video to handheld devices, the major players are backing different formats. For example, the digital tech giant LG, that gobbled Zenith and merged with Phillips, is firmly behind Terrestrial Digital Multimedia Broadcasting or (T-DMB) standard. Samsung, in South Korea is pushing DAB which stands for (Digital Audio Broadcasting) and Nokia and Motorola want DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for handhelds). We will continue this glimpse into the battle for digital TV in later columns, in the meantime, get up and get out, because couch potatoes are going mobile and won‚Äôt be tethered to the couch anymore.