TV On-The-Go

Someday, children will ask their parents what it was like in “the old days” when phone calls made outside homes or offices occurred mostly on pay phones and only the very rich had TVs in their cars.

We’re already more than halfway to total connectivity, what with cell phones, texting and WiFi making even the most hermit-like person accessible to the world. The days of missed calls and missed messages are fast becoming history’s footnotes when compared with living in the digital now, where location doesn’t matter as long as you’re carrying the right hardware.

The latest move toward total connectivity is the announcement that TV stations in 22 U.S. cities will soon start broadcasting in a format that can be received by cell phones and other personal devices. In other words, TV will soon be a personal pocket item. They’re calling it “Mobile Digital TV.”

Its content would be pretty much what one would expect from watching television at home, including weather and traffic updates and local news, and several electronic companies are already prepping devices to receive TV-on-the go.

Mobile Digital TV’s biggest hurdle might not be hardware but a way to deliver TV signals to cell phones. Some cellular carriers already have pay services that deliver some TV content to mobiles, such as AT&T, which sells phones compatible with Qualcomm’s mobile broadcasting system. However, Qualcomm charges $15 per month for 10 channels, while Mobile Digital TV plans to deliver television content for free.

Plans are for Mobile Digital TV to roll out in 22 markets, including New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, D.C. and Atlanta. So far, 54 network affiliates have signed on and nine PBS affiliates are considering the venture.

Internet Radio Without The Computer

With home theatre systems, iPods, home entertainment servers and subscription music services, it seems almost retro to get excited about a new radio. But Sanyo’s R227 isn’t just any radio.

It’s a standalone Internet radio that looks remarkably like a hybrid between ever-popular clock radios and those multi-band receivers capable of receiving short-wave, police calls and weather emergency transmissions.

Like clock radios, the R227 is something you might want to put on your nightstand. Or your kitchen counter. After you flip the ON switch, the R227 searches for your home wireless network, connects and makes Internet radio as accessible as local stations.

That’s right. Internet radio without a computer. Although Sanyo isn’t the first to market such a gadget, it is the latest. What’s more, this one just might be the one for households everywhere.

Why would you want a standalone Internet radio receiver on your kitchen counter? Actually, when you consider the receiver allows you to tune into thousands of stations across the globe, maybe the question should be why wouldn’t you?

Unlike those boring, old-fashioned radios of yore, the R227 offers computer-like ways to navigate the plethora of channel choices, including searching by genre or location. With the many “niche” Internet radio stations, there are plenty of choices to satisfy even the most demanding listener. Plus, it also works with terrestrial radio.

Although not yet available in the United States, the R227 has garnered great reviews from those lucky enough to take the unit for a test spin, like Los Angeles Times reporter David Colker.

“It was bringing in Bartok Radio, a mostly classical station based in Budapest that segued from an operatic aria (I can’t tell you which one because the announcements were in Hungarian) to a lovely a cappella rendition of the Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’ sung by the King’s Singers,” Colker said.

He described the R227 as having kind of retro look, “reminiscent of the Bakelite used to make classic radios from the 1930s to ‘50s.”

In fact, the only negative other than the unit’s price, which has been described in published reports as ranging from $150 to just more than $200, is the unit’s name.

After all, the moniker “R227” doesn’t exactly drip with excitement and pizzazz. At least, not like iPhone, Blu-ray or Xbox.
But who cares what Sanyo calls it? That is, as long as it works as described and makes listening to Internet radio as easy as listening to terrestrial radio.

Or, as Colker wrote:

“That is a lot pricier than most run-of-the-mill clock radios. But they can’t find Radio Bartok.”

Guitar Hero’s New Milestone

The gaming franchise that turns you into a faux star recently hit a milestone by becoming the first video game to surpass $1 billion in sales.

Activision CEO Mike Griffith announced the record for his company’s “Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock” while delivering his keynote address at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, reports The Guitar Hero franchise reached the $1 billion mark about a year ago, but this is the first time one of the games has done so.

Gaming franchises like “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” have given new life to old songs by delivering them with the games as well as publishing add-on packs, giving gamers even more songs to push buttons for. “GH III: Legends Of Rock” includes songs by Guns N’ Roses, ZZ Top and Scorpions plus many other big-name bands and artists. Furthermore, some bands have their own customized editions of the franchise.

For example, “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” is already in stores, and according to Griffith has already sold three times more than the band’s last album. Griffith also cited Nielsen SoundScan data, saying that bands and artists whose songs are used by the “Guitar Hero” games have seen their download sales rise anywhere from 15 to 843 percent.

Meanwhile, Activision is prepping for a spring launch of “Guitar Hero: Metallica.” Still no word if pushing color-coded buttons is enough to win at the game or if gamers must file copyright infringement lawsuits against the original Napster as well.