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HD Goes Mobile

HD on the go? That’s the vision of OnAir Solution, a Korean-based company that created OnAir HDTV-GT, an HDTV reception device designed to deliver over-the-air and digital cable HDTV signals to laptop computers. It’s been on the market since April. AutumnWave, the New Bloomfield, Penn. distributor of OnAir Solution products, named Patrick Castellani as its president and COO. Here’s some quick questions and answers with Castellani

Q: How does OnAir HDTV-GT work and how is it different from other PC tuners in the market?

A. This is the first mobile HD reception system that allows consumers to record HD, digital, and analog over-the-air and cable signals. We also hold patents for using the high-speed USB serial port on the computer.

Q: What’s the advantage of using the USB serial port?

A. It’s the only practical port that can stream video at the data rates needed to pass HD without compressing the signal. And depending on the bandwidth of the program being recorded it takes about 4 or 5 GB of storage to record an hour of HD content.

Q: There have been other tuners for PCs over the years but it seems that having to open up the PC and install a board has been a gating factor to adoption. Do you think the USB connection will spur on demand?

A. You make a good point. By not having to go into the machine there is less chance of conflicts or hardware or file damage. You just install the software, plug the hardware into the USB port and begin scanning channels.

Q: How big of a market do you think there is for watching HD on a PC? Will it be more successful than watching SD material on a PC?

A.We see the market as being very large for college students living in tight, cramped spaces where they don’t want a large TV monitor and a PC.Business travelers are another big market, especially those who are sitting in an airport waiting out a delay. I can remember being in JFK and tuning in a secondary digital channel that showed the Doppler radar and other people were coming over to take a look to see when we were getting off the ground.

Q: Can you receive the HD signals while you’re on the move?

Yes. We did some testing near Harrisburg [Pa.] where we drove around and watched Good Morning Amercian in HD and it looked great. A lot of the mobile reception issues disappeared with the introduction of LG Electronic’s fifth-generation tuner and demodulator that we’re using.

--Interviewed by Ken Kerschbaumer