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Mobile TV leaps over consumer hurdles with TV-on-Mobile solution

Posted: 05 Oct 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:philips semiconductors? bgt210? tv-on-mobile? dvb-h? nexperia?

Joosse: Making the TV chips small and less power-hungry were the biggest design challenges in the development of the TV-on-Mobile module.

Skeptics have frowned on the concept of TV functionality on handsets, citing issues such as screen size affecting viewer experience. But Philips Semiconductors' recent release of the BGT210 TV-on-Mobile solution is proof that some still believe that mobile TV could soon be a widespread phenomenon.

"TV-on-Mobile is an opportunity for Philips to explore a combination of two areas we masterTV and the mobile phone," said Kees Joosse, senior director of business development for Personal Entertainment Solutions. "The convergence of these two domains is a huge opportunity for us to offer a solution to our customers that is really simple to apply."

The DVB-H BGT210 is a low-power front-end chip that is optimized for use with Philips' Nexperia cellular system solutions and is about the size of a paper clip. This small form factor includes a tv tuner (TDA18281/2), programmable channel decoder/demodulator (TDA10105), source decoder and complete software stack for DVB-H transport control, file transport and real-time A/V transport. The BGT210 contains all the functionality of a complete digital TV front-end receiver and comes with a customer development kit to speed up time-to-market for TV-enabled handsets.

"Making the TV chips small and less power-hungry were the biggest design challenges in the development of the TV-on-Mobile module. However, we have roughly won a factor of 10 in both aspects compared to home-TV solutions," Joosse said.

Earlier this year, Philips had announced the launch of the TV-on-Mobile solution in Q4, which the company beat by releasing the BGT210 device during the September IFA 2005 in Berlin, Joosse said. "The IFA demos were indeed quite significant. Philips was not part of the general fair, but a hotel suite was reserved for invited guests. Reactions were unanimously positive, which was quite encouraging for our team," he claimed.

Skeptics galore

Handset operators have been concerned that feature creep in mobile phones is alienating subscribers that lack tech savvy, but Joosse believes that TV is much more compelling than features such as games, MMS and even cameras. "The key is the simplicity of the user interface. Tuning and zapping should be made really simple," he said.

Other issues have plagued the initial perception of mobile TV, but perhaps the biggest concern is screen size. "Some people question the viewing quality on screens as small as those on mobile phones," said Joosse. "But Philips has found that it takes more than screen size to make a good viewer experienceit's also a matter of screen resolution and brightness." He claimed that QVGA is appropriate for handhelds, while VGA gives a level of detail comparable to normal TV, and that superior sound quality can even perceptually compensate for a poor display.

As part of the Broadcast Mobile Convergence (BMCO) project, Philips, along with Nokia, Universal Studios Networks and Vodafone, participated in end-user trial transmissions for DVB-H to broadcast conventional TV in July 2004. Results of the study showed that 78 percent of the respondents thought that mobile TV was a good idea with 82 percent willing to pay for content.

DVB-H BGT210 chip

"The end-user feedback in trials showed us that there is a real market demand for such a feature. Also, it became clear that good antenna configuration and sensitivity are very important, as signal levelsespecially indoorscan be quite low," said Joosse.

Philips is aiming at conducting similar trials in mainland China together with other partners. "China itself is a little behind in terms of these developments, but we are involved with several standards bodies there," Joosse added.

Joosse also said that Asian customers will be particularly interested in TV-on-Mobile, citing a successful commercial launch of mobile TV in Korea and one projected in Japan for 2006. "My impression is that cellphone issues in general get a good reception with Asian customers and that mobile TV services will get quite a lot of attention in the region," he said.

The BGT210 TV-on-Mobile module is currently sampling and will be mass-produced in early 2006 for a family of Philips products. Smaller versions of the chip will be rolled out in the coming months, the company disclosed.

- Selena Salang
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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