Samsung soon launches a new Android gadget with built-in digital radio and MiniTV [mobile TV via DMB].
A lot of people see Galaxy S, the 5 inch mini tablet, as a remote control. Samsung has supplied their most expensive television sets with such mini tablets that can be used as a remote control with the right app installed.
In this model, they have built in a receiver for DAB/DAB+/DMB and a small extendable antenna. Perhaps sent from Heaven to everyone who cannot bear to miss the European Championship in Football, The Olympic Games in London and Tour de France this summer?
We brought Galaxy S to Holmenkollen [the ski venue in Oslo] where we could see Marit Bjørgen destroy all competition in the 30 kilometer cross country race. We were always updated on the time differences to her competitors, as opposed to our fellow spectators along the track in the forest. With sound and television pictures.
A number of people looked jealously at the small TV set, although most of them probably thought that we were watching web tv via the internet.
MiniTV is the Norwegian name for a distribution standard which has become very popular in Korea, where a lot of people watches TV on the train, the metro or in the park.
The Koreans have used the European DAB standard for digital radio and redeveloped it for DMB – Digital Multimedia Broadcasting, to transmit, among other things, mobile TV.
It may therefore not be much of a surprise that the Korean brands dominatet he market for such receivers.
The market has so far been dominated by small and cheap devices, but Galaxy S is the first receiver based on Android. That means that it can be used to pretty much everything in addition to watching television and listening to the radio. Those functions greatly adds to the device.
The Galaxy S is everything. It inlcudes a camera in the front and in the back but lacks a SIM-card, so it cannot be used as a phone. You may however have video conferences via Skype and download everything that is available in Android Market. You can even use it as a remote control if you have a Samsung TV.
We have tested an early prototype of Galaxy S and we can conclude that there is very little negative that can be said about the TV reception in and around Oslo where we have tested the reception indoor and in a car.
There iare almost no disturbances in the TV picture as long as you have the antenna pulled out. The picture quality is good, although this is not HD TV.
The picture resolution is 384 times 224. That is adequate for a small 5 inch screen. Even subtitles can be read, but this is not something you would want to transfer to a large TV screen except for as a last resort.
Impressive battery time
We didn’t have time to empty the battery, but we watched TV 2 News 24 for an hour.
When started to watch, the battery had 70% power remaining, according to Android, afterwards 65%. Wi-Fi and GPS was turned off, but the screen’s lighting was turned up to the maximum, so the result was highly surprising.
We doubt that we can watch TV for 20 hours, but it is clear that it will be sufficient for most situations when you do not have a charger available.
Digital radio thrown in
A gadget with DMB built-in, such as Galaxy S, does also have DAB and DAB+. The three are part of the same family of standards, which means that digital radio also comes built-in.
We tested that as well.
FM has a lot of annoying interruptions every time a mobile phone is nearby, while the DAB sound is wonderfully noise free.
And although the TV transmissions can only be received in Greater Oslo, digital radio covers large parts of the country. A substantial expansion plan will give as good DAB coverage as current P1 (Norway’s biggest radio station) via FM (99.5%) within 3 years from now.
The other side of the medal
The downside of Galaxy S is of course that it cannot be used as a phone.
Then again, who wants to be interrupted by a phone call when watching a football match.
We would also wish that the ear phones could be used as an antenna as is the case when listening to FM radio on your mobile. The optimal case would be if the antenna could be built-in and invincible, but we may not even wish for that.
The frequencies being used for DAB/DMB are nearby 200 Mhz. They demand longer antennas than those built-in til mobile phones and that receive higher frequencies.
The MiniTV broadcasts have been on air in the Oslo region for three years and they are still classified as test transmissions.
Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), TV 2 and MTG cooperate on this project. Four of the transmitters are made fir MiniTV.
Norwegian Mobile TV Corporation (NMTV), the joint venture company that provides MiniTV, has applied to the government on a commercial nationwide license. It is being seen in relation to the expansion of the digital radio network.
To add additional multiplexes on the transmitter sites is less expensive when the rest of the infrastructure can be reused.
Why is a new broadcasting network needed when television can be streamed via the internet over mobile telecom networks?
We tried to receive NRKs TV stream via the mobile network in Holmenkollen, but all we managed to receive were a couple of still pictures.
That is not enough to satisfy those that want to follow the ski race via their mobile. There are not enough resources for everyone. When a lot of users fight over the same resources, and many of them want something as data intensive as television pictures, there simply is not enough capacity. Hardly to make phone calls.
Broadcasting on the other side is also a stream of data, men one stream covers everone, each person doesn’t need one each. The frequencies around 200 Mhz also ensures that the transmissions cover a large area. Only four transmitters around the Oslo fjord enables almost 1.5 million people to be able to receive the signals.
And that is done through accumulated power of only 2000 watt!
DMB does, as opposed to other television standards, support interactivity.
That means that the TV broadcasters can trigger two way communication in the broadcast, something which is currently being tested by TV3. Users can then for instance vote on an artist in a programme by touching the screen or get additional information on an ad or a commercial that interest them.
There are enormous possibilities, but these can only be used as long as the receiver has a return channel. For Galaxy S that means that the user must be in coverage of Wi-Fi. To make it more user friendly, DMB has to enter mobile phones.
Galaxy S will cost somewhere between 1990 and 2500 kroner when it comes to shops in a month or two.
Even though that is not a lot, much cheaper receivers exist. But this is an Android gadget which means that it can be used to so much more. And it comes with a good 5 inch screen and impressive sound quality from the speakers.
Another good solution for those of you owning Ipod/Ipad/Iphone is a dongle: IP-100 DMB. It costs only 799 kroner and comes with the antenna as a soft padded wire connected to the dongle.
For original article in Norwegian: Read here.