iOS App Turns the Dyle on Mobile TV
The biggest drawbacks to watching video on a mobile device are burning data plan minutes and the battery juice. Dyle, a new service that uses an antenna and battery device to pull TV signals from the airwaves, is trying to address both of those issues. Consumers may not want to carry around an extra piece of equipment, however, or pay almost $100 for it.
11/20/12 5:00 AM PT
For more than half the nation, live broadcast television can now be in the palm of their hands.
A new accessory for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad allows the devices to receive live broadcast TV feeds through a free service offered by Dyle Mobile TV in
35 markets covering 55 percent of the U.S. population.
The EyeTV Mobile accessory costs US$99.95 and is made by Elgato. It plugs into the dock connector -- that's the older dock connector, not the Lightning connector on the latest generation of Apple products -- on devices running iOS 5.1 or greater. It tunes in to TV signals broadcast over the ATSC-Mobile band, which was designated by the broadcast industry to deliver television signals to mobile devices.
With EyeTV connected to any IOS device, users can watch most programming broadcast by TV stations transmitting on the ATSC-Mobile band. However, due to licensing complications, NFL football games cannot be viewed through the device.
Data Plans Be Damned
Although there's no digital video recorder in the EyeTV-Dyle scheme, it does allow you to pause and resume programming and view a detailed program guide.
Dyle is designed to supplement, not replace, traditional broadcast television, according to Salil Dalvi, vice president of Digital Distribution for NBC Universal and a comanager of the Mobile Content Venture, the company backed by NBC and Fox that offers Dyle.
"This is the first time that consumers can watch live television as they would see it in the living room on a mobile device away from the TV set and without an Internet connection," he told MacNewsWorld.
"We're able to deliver a live television experience without a consumer having to use their data plan, without having to log into WiFi, without having to share their data connection with everyone who's trying to watch video on their devices at the same time," he added.
The video delivered by Dyle is optimized for a five-inch screen, according to Erik Moreno, senior vice president of corporate development for the Fox Networks Group and the other co-manager of the Mobile Content Venture. "Once you start stretching the picture, it starts to lose some of its quality," he told MacNewsWorld.
"When you stretch it on a 10-inch iPad, it doesn't look as good as on a five-inch device," he added.
However, several display sizes are available on the iPad to improve picture quality with a tap on the screen.
Dalvi, though, defended the picture quality. "If you were watching regular Internet video on your iPad, the quality is in line with that," he said. "Is it going to look as good as a 3 GB file that took a half hour to download? No, probably not, but if you're talking about accessing live television on the go in places where you historically have not been able to consume live television, then this is a step up for the average consumer."
The fact that another device needs to be toted around to receive live TV may be a turnoff for some consumers, contended Jonathan Hurd, a director of Altman Vilandrie. "Anything that adds to the size and weight of a device is a factor affecting an accessory purchase," he told MacNewsWorld.
"Typically you don't see people carrying around extra batteries, add-on devices and keyboards. Most consumers don't want to get that device any bigger or heavier than they have to," he observed. "I'm sure there are segments of consumers for which this device would be an attractive proposition. I'm just not sure how big those segments of consumers are."
In addition to the EyeTV Mobile accessory, Dyle is also delivered to Samsung Galaxy S Lightray handsets for the pay-as-you-go MetroPCS network. Those smartphones are embedded with a tuner that receives the Dyle service without any accessories.
Audiovox is also working on a backseat entertainment system for watching live TV through Dyle. That's possible because the ATSC is designed to accommodate motion, Dalvi explained.
"When you're in motion at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, you still have great picture quality," he said.