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Summary:

You can now get video on your iPhone or iPad from many sources, but grabbing over-the-air local TV directly, which is still the best (legal) way not to pay for TV hasn’t been a possibility. That’s going to change, thanks to iOS-compatible mobile DTV receivers.

tivizen-feature

You can now get video on your iPhone or iPad from any number of sources, but grabbing over-the-air local TV directly, which is still the best (legal) way to get TV for free at home in the living room hasn’t been a possibility. That’s going to change, thanks to iOS-compatible mobile digital television (DTV) receivers.

The Tivizen, by Korean manufacturer Valups and introduced at CES, is one such device. It plugs into the iDevice’s 30-pin connector, and requires no cellular or data connection to work, so it’s even fully compatible with the iPod touch. All that’s required is an app, downloadable via the official App Store. The Tivizen grabs any available local DTV broadcasts and outputs them in a format your device can recognize and play back. Valups launched a previous iteration of the Tivizen last year, but it was a separate device that had to re-transmit the DTV signals it received to other devices via Wi-Fi.

Content selection will be limited, but not so limited as you might imagine. Checking the mobile DTV station guide from the Open Mobile Video Coaltion (OMVC), it looks like major network affiliates for most large urban areas in the U.S. will be covered. That’s thanks in part by a big push this year by OMVC to make more local mobile broadcasts more available.

When it launches in June of this year, the Tivizen will cost approximately $99, and the app required to use it will be free. When I returned from living in Japan three years ago, that would’ve seemed like a good deal to me, since cellular over-the-air TV was fairly common there and we had little to compare with it, I think the Tivizen and its ilk might fall into the “too little, too late” category. The device has its own battery, which is only good for a maximum of 2.5 hours usage. And with Neftlix, Hulu Plus and streaming video apps from the networks themselves, how much demand is there really for local DTV?

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  1. Live sports on local affiliates. That’s why I’d want it.

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    1. That’s exactly what people here at the office said “hey! I can watch soccer on that!”…which made me grateful, because it’ll mean they *won’t* watch it on the widescreen TV in the break room, so I can watch history channel or something more relevant than soccer :)

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    2. Yep, especially for events like baseball and football postseason for which there is no legal online option if you live in the U.S. I will definitely be buying one of these.

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  2. Hey, it’s free (meaning, no subscription cost). And OTA HD channels (even if just local) is more than enough for some.

    But while on the topic, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is speaking at CES today, announcing further details of the Comcast iPad/iPhone app which will stream just about every channel you currently subscribe to (no addt’l charge) as well as OnDemand content.

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  3. I, for one, welcome our local DTV overlords. For those of us who enjoy local content (not to mention Retro TV), this will be very nice, especially when on the go and not on wifi.

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  4. The only thing we could pick up in our locale would be PBS, but my VIZIO TV is reporting that I am getting 1080i from my MOXI DVR through Charter, and we do not even have the special HD version.

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  5. This reads a bit misleading…the device picks up a different signal than the HD broadcast that your TV or converter box does. Check this site to see what stations in your area are broadcasting the Mobile DTV signal:

    http://www.mdtvsignalmap.com/

    Here in Austin, there’s only one. Hopefully more devices like this will entice the local broadcasters to invest in this technology.

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  6. Thanks to Dean for the information that these gadgets pick up a different digital channel from that most HDTV receivers used. Here in Seattle, That mean 3 of the 4 major commercial networks with the fourth (KING) going MDTV this year. Our PBS affiliate won’t be included, which nixes my interest.

    The big plus of these gadgets is that they mean fewer people will be sucking down cellular bandwidth to watch sporting events. The negative is that built in battery with its limited life. I hope it ships with a micro-USB slot to charge while watching.

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  7. Really looking forward to this, I disagree with your closing statement but have responded in the last couple of paragraphs on my blog http://bit.ly/feQNdb

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