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'Programmable broadband' has arrived for PC TV

Posted: 21 Jan 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PC TV  digital TV  programmable broadband  broadcast TV 

Does it really matter if your notebook PC is capable of receiving live free-to-air TV broadcast?

When a generation of young people is more inclined to watch only what they want to watch over the Internet at any time and any place of their choosing, integrating in a portable gadget a broadcast TV receiver seems almost superfluous.

And yet, upon the survival of mobile TV chip vendors hinges on this application. After searching many years for the yet-to-blossom mobile TV handset market, vendors are increasingly shifting their focus to the PC-TV market.

Add to this phenomenon, the fact that a universal radio receiver has long been a Holy Grail for many in the mobile engineering community. Its absence has prevented consumers from enjoying a truly global mobile handset or global TV on the go.

As mobile TV chip companies such as Siano Mobile, Telegent Systems and CrestaTech all acknowledge, netbook and notebook PCs capable of broadcast TV reception are already within their reach.

Siano Mobile, for one, worked with Hauppauge Computer Works to design Dell's USB digital TV tuner, which was unveiled earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show. The USB digital TV tuner will receive live and free over-the-air local digital and high-definition (HD) TV broadcasts where available.

Telegent Systems also announced last week a single-chip CMOS hybrid TV receiver, designed to allow the integration of live analogue TV (PAL/SECAM/NTSC) and Europe's DVB-T digital TV in laptops, netbooks and mobile Internet devices. Telegent, by adding DTV reception capability to its claim-to-fame analogue TV receiver, hopes to muscle its way into the PC TV market.

And then, there is CrestaTech, a California-based start-up focused on the development of a "universal broadband receiver."

Programmable broadband
The company, founded by Silicon Valley's serial entrepreneur George Haber, took its wraps off at the CES. Using a core technology called "programmable broadband receiver," CrestaTech demonstrated a "region-free TV," capable of receiving analogue or digital TV broadcast, radio and GPS signals.

CrestaTech's universal broadband receiver, called CrestaTV, consists of "extremely programmable RF and interface IC and multi-threaded signal processing software," according to Haber.

The initial CrestaTV, scheduled for sampling in the second quarter of this year, is capable of tuning, demodulating and decoding TV signals ranging from analogue TV, U.S. digital TV (based on 8-VSB modulation) to cable (based on QAM) and European digital TV system called DVB-T (based on OFDM), with the horsepower available in a PC or embedded system.

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