April 21, 2009 in Business

GADGETS

 

Washington, D.C., will be the first U.S. city to get free digital TV broadcasts for mobile devices like cell phones, laptop computers and in-car entertainment systems, broadcasters were set to announce Monday.

Broadcasts using new “mobile DTV” technology are expected to begin in late summer from five stations: local affiliates of CBS, NBC, PBS and Ion and one independent station owned by Fox. The initial broadcasts will be identical to those beamed to TV sets, including the ads.

It’s unclear what devices might be available with the special receivers needed for the new signals. Cell phones are main candidates for the technology, but the wireless carriers have shown no enthusiasm, and the largest two have their own TV services, which require subscriptions.

Dell Inc. will be showing a prototype of a small laptop with a built-in mobile DTV receiver at the National Association of Broadcasters trade show in Las Vegas this week. The computer maker joins cell phone makers LG Electronics Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. in supporting the technology. The companies backing the technology in the so-called Open Mobile Video Coalition said Washington was chosen as a test market because the city is full of tech-savvy viewers who pay attention to local news. Attention from politicians and regulators probably doesn’t hurt either – the coalition has earlier pointed to the usefulness of free mobile TV broadcasts in case of emergencies and disasters like hurricanes.

Broadcasters plan to start broadcasts in more than two dozen other cities by the end of the year, covering 39 percent of U.S. households.

Magellan gets you to AAA spots: You are on the road, your car’s transmission is sounding a bit funky and you want to find a repair shop approved by AAA. What do you do?

One new product, the Magellan RoadMate 1470 Global Positioning System device, gives users searchable AAA TourBook listings.

Besides repair shops, the listings include AAA Diamond-rated restaurants and lodgings, along with attractions, events, campgrounds and businesses that offer AAA member discounts.

Equipped with a 4.7-inch screen with one-touch access to addresses, the RoadMate 1470 costs $300. A similarly equipped RoadMate 1440 with a 4.3-inch screen is $250 while a RoadMate 1340 with a 3.5-inch screen is $180.

From wire reports


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