By Ed Milbourn • Apr 1 2015, 5:20pm
Under assault from the burgeoning OTT IP services, the staggering behemoth that is the US Television broadcast industry will soon deliver a major frontal offensive.
And it's a real blockbuster! My sources tell me that on Wednesday, April 1, a gigantic US broadcasting consortium (consisting of NAB, ATSC, several major station groups, and the five major TV networks) will announce a comprehensive petition to the FCC and Congress to amend the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
This amendment petition would allow broadcasters to use their spectrum to deliver premium subscription programming.
Oh, but that's not all...
By Ed Milbourn • Oct 28 2013, 2:42pm
So, you thought it was dead – eh? Have none of it! Reminds me of color TV in the 1950’s.
With great fanfare, color was introduced with an approved standard only to fail both technically and commercially.
A technically revised standard was introduced in 1963, and commercial re-marketing began in 1954, again with great fanfare.
Alas, most manufacturers and content providers (except RCA) vacated the color TV market by 1956.
The product category went into virtual eclipse for about seven years – until ABC and CBS started color casting popular programs.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Similarly, 3DTV was rushed to market three years ago - without a coherent marketing strategy, an ill-defined standard, technical deficiencies and content starved.
Of the technical deficiencies, probably the most acute was the need for glasses.
That, in itself, was probably not sufficient to derail 3DTV, as watching 3D with glasses is not a new phenomenon, but coupled with faulted content dist ...
By Ed Milbourn • Apr 1 2013, 2:50pm
Sometime in the mid to late ‘70’s while strolling among the catacombs of the CES exhibits in the “old” South Hall, I was attracted to a small exhibit space manned by a tall, erect German gentleman.
With a very thick accent, he was demonstrating 10:1 time compression digital B/W video via a commercial satellite link.
Using side-by-side 13” monitors to compare the compressed versus uncompressed video...
By Ed Milbourn • Dec 6 2012, 2:59pm
No doubt the exhibition “star” at this coming (2013) CES will be Ultra High Definition Television (Ultra HD) featuring at least four times the number of pixels per frame as conventional HDTV.
This means the viewer can be positioned proportionally closer to the screen without seeing any pixel grain.
But the increased picture detail improvement effected by the increased pixel density is not lost by those viewing from greater distances either.
In fact significant image enhancement is noticeable as much as ten times the picture height from the display (assuming 20/20 visual acuity).
To the normal human eye, the roll-off of the image improvement relative to distance is, of course, gradual and dependent on a number of image variables such as contrast, brightness motion content, etc.
The bottom line is...
By Ed Milbourn • Oct 3 2012, 2:19pm
Like many incipient “cord cutters,” I am gradually approaching the point where the vast wasteland of hundreds of channels of nothingness is not worth the trip.
Aside for local news, special events and sports, the rest of TV is of questionable redeeming social value.
However, the one TV accessory to which I have become addicted is the DVR.
If I am going to “cut-the-cord,” I really don’t want to pay someone any monthly fee for the privilege of the wonderful utility of time- shifting otherwise “free” HDTV programming.
Other than reconfiguring a computer dedicated for that purpose, not many (if any) moderately priced, no-fee options existed.
By Ed Milbourn • May 22 2012, 2:51pm
The short answer is that is doesn't work very well.
One can tick-off a whole litany of deficiencies, both commercial and technical, that have resulted in a less than stellar acceptance of this feature.
Does this mean 3DTV is a "failure?"
By Ed Milbourn • May 18 2012, 2:26pm
Like many, I love (most) old movies.
And again, like many, I have accumulated a significant collection of classics - most on VCR's and on the old RCA CED video disc format (RIP).
With the advent of HDTV and advanced film restoration technologies, the BD and DVD versions of these movies are - for the most part - spectacular.
However, the one generally disappointing aspect that mars the total HD experience of these productions is the disappointing sound quality.
This is especially true with...
By Ed Milbourn • Apr 1 2012, 2:55pm
Of course! But it may not be the way one may think.
Although we are certainly capable of producing TV in 4K/UHTV (2160p) or SHDTV (4320p) and reproducing the same, bandwidth limitations remain the real problem for distributing this level of quality.
With 4G interactive personal communications gobbling up most of the usable spectrum and assuming most, if not all, local interconnections will be wireless, there is simply not enough air left for real-time UHDTV – unless one wants to watch Monday Night Football on Tuesday night.
So, what is needed is a whole new approach to reproducing television images that is relatively immune to bandwidth limitations.
One approach that offers the most promise is...
By Ed Milbourn • Feb 15 2012, 3:45pm
Having attended consumer electronics shows in various capacities since 1965, I have witnessed the growth and evolution of the CE industry from many different perspectives.
Some shows announce revolutionary, even disruptive, technologies; others reflect evolutionary trends.
Although CES is primarily a near-market hardware show, increasingly dominant themes are based on enabling technologies.
By Ed Milbourn • Oct 10 2011, 2:48pm
Last spring I convinced myself that, indeed, the M/H application in a notebook stick configuration is viable from a user standpoint.
(see previous Ed’s View)
Now, I wanted to verify M/H viability in a “hand-held” configuration with a marketed receiver.
So, I acquired an RCA DMT 335R 3.5” Mobile DTV/ATSC Digital TV from the RCA web-store for a field test.
By Ed Milbourn • May 31 2011, 2:20pm
I normally don’t write product reviews, so this should not be considered one.
Rather I was more interested in relating my experiences from a consumer standpoint of the viability of ATSC Mobile/Handheld (M/H) service in general and that of a specific category – USB “stick” devices – in particular.
I had seen the various demonstrations of USB M/H devices at CES11 and was frankly unimpressed.
The reception conditions inside the LVCC were hostile to anything “portable” and, therefore, could not adequately replicate reasonable user experiences.
So, the Hauppauge people sent me an aero-m USB stick receiver to field test in anticipated consumer conditions...
By Ed Milbourn • Apr 1 2011, 2:06pm
Sounds like the title of a Steven King novel.
The term “power harvesting” has long been given to the process of acquiring useful power from otherwise wasted energy sources.
However, in this particular application it is the name given to a uniquely innovative system that provides power to electronic devices virtually free.
The theory has been known for years: a vast amount of energy flows in the ether simply from the existence of random RF radiation over a vast spectrum.
The engineering challenge, of course, has been...
By Ed Milbourn • Feb 22 2011, 3:56pm
OK, suppose the national interest and economic forces dictate that must of the TV broadcast spectrum now devoted to over-the-air (OTA) TV be allocated to broadband services.
With that premise being accepted, is there a way to preserve free TV, have mobile TV services and provide a quality experience for viewers? The answer is yes, there is! Several ideas proposed by various ATSC Mobile/Handheld (M/H) stakeholders could be combined into one comprehensive scheme that would deliver all three objectives.
The basis of this unified proposed plan is to ...
By Ed Milbourn • Oct 27 2010, 3:35pm
Unsubstantiated reports from various sources reflect a mixed message relative to the technical efficacy of the ATSC Mobile/Handheld (M/H) standard in actual practice.
As we know, last spring selected TV stations started extensive field testing of the system in several US markets under varying terrain, urban density and other related signal propagation parameters.
Prototype receiving units (none yet marketed) from several manufacturers and in various physical configurations are, of course, an integral part of the system’s tests.
Commercial applications considerations aside, technically, M/H works as advertised.
The question is...
By Ed Milbourn • Apr 2 2010, 3:44pm
Arguably, 3D HD was the "star" of CES 2010 and is the primary focus of the television business starting now.
And rightfully so, as 3D will be a welcome incrementally profitable business as HD approaches market maturity.
However, the same cannot be said for broadcasters as they gather in Las Vegas this month for NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Convention 2010.
To OTA broadcasters, whose very lifeblood – their spectrum – is under assault, the issue is survival.
And that survival may very well depend on their successful embrace of the new ATSC Mobile/Handheld (M/H) standard.
So, in spite of its glitter, 3D may very well take a second seat to M/H at NAB 2010.
To some extent M/H is a solution waiting for a problem.
It is not clear there is any driving conventional need for linear mobile television and/or non-internet data services, at least in the US, or any that would appear to be economically viable.
However, here are some factors, both commercial and technical, tha ...
By Ed Milbourn • Mar 29 2010, 3:38pm
Hidden in the backwater of all the 3D hoopla at CES 2010 was the Panasonic 152" Viera Plasma 4K (4096 x 2160) display that has been showcased for the last couple of years.
Arguably, the big Viera display was the most striking TV image at the show.
There may have been other such Ultra High Definition TV (UHDTV) direct view displays at the LVCC complex this year, but I didn't see them.
But NHD's idea of UHDTV promises to be even better!
From the start of serious HDTV research in the late 1970's, Japan's NHK has been "pushing the envelope" of ever increasing television picture resolution – not just related to displays, but...
By Ed Milbourn • Jan 12 2010, 4:22pm
One cannot appreciate the enormity of this exhibition except in person.
This was my fortieth CES – the first being in 1965 at the old American Hotel in NYC, called the EIA Convention at that time.
Then as a young engineer with RCA, I was awestruck by two full floors of products – one floor with radio, phonograph and audio tape products and the other with television – mostly black and white models.
Now, the CES occupies several square miles of Las Vegas convention space exhibiting and hosting presentations relative to all types of electronics products competing in the ever hungrier world-wide consumer electronics marketplace.
But one factor remains the same as in 1965: television is the king.
Video products continue to...
By Ed Milbourn • Dec 15 2009, 4:52pm
In spite of the aggressive marketing aspirations of a few major television industry giants, namely Sony and Panasonic, there are essentially three fundamental tasks remaining before HD 3DTV can become a viable adjunct to the spectrum of consumer electronic products...
By Ed Milbourn • Oct 28 2009, 10:45pm
Here again, the US consumer electronics industry as well as broadcasters find themselves and their consumers in a technical/marketing quandary because of lack of foresight, planning and just plain incompetence.
This time it may really hurt.
It didn't take any genius to foresee the possibilities of in-home 3D years ago, particularly in light of the economic success of digital 3D movies over the past three years.
Since movies derive more than 55% (and climbing) of their revenues from in-home distribution channels (disc, VOD, PPV etc.), it doesn't take much prescience to predict 3DTV possibilities.
Did the salient organizations react? Yes.
Being unencumbered by the thought process, their reaction was something like a bunch of night drunks during a bar raid.
A couple of years ago a few manufactures started marketing "3D ready" rear projection units with no particular performance standards or technology in mind.
Then about a year and a half ago...
By Ed Milbourn • Aug 5 2009, 3:10pm
"Cognitive Radio." What a strange, oblique name for one of the greatest technology advances in telecommunications since Ma Bell decided that ones and zeros made better use of our precious spectrum (over both wired and wireless media) than wavy, wriggly voltage changes.
Clearly, the academics who coined the name failed PR101.
Why not call it "Smart Radio" - because that's what it is - really smart radio.
So, I'll compromise in this wheeze on the subject by cowardly retreating into the technical acronym morass - henceforth tagging "Cognitive Radio" as "COR" and its TV version as "COTV."
The precise definition of COR...