Universal TV Tuner

In this global community, we still tend to be provincial about television. In the United States, we know about NTSC, but may not know about the PAL and SECAM video standards used in many parts of the world. We are learning about the ATSC digital broadcasts, but may not be as aware of the DVB-T, ISDB-T, or SBTVD standards used elsewhere. Just as mobile phone users have learned to have phones that can work with the different phone systems throughout the world, travelers will need to adjust for these different TV signals if they want to receive TV broadcasts on their travels.

The problem of worldwide television reception may be a lot simpler in the future, thanks to new chips developed by Mirics. Their FlexiTV product relies on software — not hardware — to demodulate the broadcast signal using a computer’s processor. This means that they can provide the parts for a notebook TV tuner for under $5, yet it is flexible enough to receive broadcast television signals almost anywhere in the world.

The Mirics chips are not yet available in any shipping product that I know of, but at this price, I can expect that notebook and DVD player manufacturers will be looking at it as an inexpensive way to add a differentiating feature that will appeal to world travelers. And getting TV broadcasts on your laptop might be appealing to some users even if they never leave home.