On the Road to ATSC 3.0

Yes, we’re still alive!

Since CES we’ve been on the road to ATSC 3.0, heading out to Phoenix to sample the Pearl model market, Las Vegas for NAB, and made several diversions to Santa Barbara to work with NPG’s broadcast.

Depending on who you ask, ATSC 3.0 will be the greatest revolution in television since digital television (i.e. ATSC 1.0), or – being incompatible with the current ATSC 1.0 broadcast standard and embracing web and streaming technologies perhaps a little too much – its  greatest boondoggle.

ATSC 3.0 has a great many features for broadcasters, such as the opportunity for targeted advertising and content protection.  But what does it have for the average consumer? Continue reading “On the Road to ATSC 3.0”

ATSC 3.0: CES 2019 & The Catching Waves Trip

Another CES has come and gone with its usual fill of dazzling tech, good dining, and blistered feet. And while I’m sure there was a 500″ 5G-connected 16k smart OLED TV with AI-imbued visual enhancements and a deep learning content recommendation engine, ATSC 3.0 was notably absent from the show floor. This isn’t too much of a surprise as the standard was completed just a year ago and it takes a bit of time for products to arrive and broadcasters (and their vendors) to gear up. While no products were on the show floor there was still plenty of activity going on in the background. As in previous years, Sinclair had its ATSC 3.0 test broadcast running from Black Mountain. CES 2020 will no doubt be an exciting show for 3.0.

In the meantime, the annual pilgrimage to M&M’s World trip to CES in Las Vegas provided an excuse to peruse the ATSC 3.0 airwaves and capture some bitstreams. I’d been working with 3.0 from a specification standpoint for much of 2018 with an eye to retrofitting Project Entangle. And with an Airwavz TV RedZone Receiver in hand it was time to start tearing into real broadcasts.

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Revisiting SSDs in DVRs

Previous posts at in-koherence have been rather skeptical of using SSDs as recording storage in DVRs. SSDs have a lifespan that is largely dictated by the amount of data written to them. This may not be much of a problem if you record one or two shows a day. However many users set up recordings for series which they might watch (but for some reason never find the time to…or maybe they decided it wasn’t such a great series after all, but who has time to cancel the subscription to the series?) This is amplified if multiple members of the household set up recordings on the DVR. The next thing you know it your four-tuner DVR is recording 20 hours of shows a day. For all its faults, the good old mechanical hard drive is superior in having a write limit that’s so high that it’s generally not considered.

But with rapidly falling prices, larger capacities (with correspondingly higher endurance ratings), and the increasing difficulty of finding non-SMR 2.5″ hard drives, the time has come to give SSDs a harder look. So we took a mid-grade SSD and ran the first SSD-based Project Entangle through its paces.

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Enhancing OTA ATSC Reception Through Diversity

One of the goals of Project Entangle is to receive The Perfect Broadcast – a transport stream with no bits missing or in error. As anyone using OTA ATSC (and since you’re reading this you’re probably one of them) knows, this can be a challenging endeavor. Signals can be too weak, and ironically too strong. Multipath can turn an otherwise strong  signal error-prone. Dynamic multipath is even harder to deal with as the demodulator needs to adapt to the changing properties of the signal.

But hard doesn’t mean impossible. One of the methods for obtaining The Perfect Broadcast that Project Entangle has been investigating is diversity. Essentially, diversity involves receiving two or more versions of a broadcast in different ways. The various versions are then combined to yield a signal that’s better than any of the individually received ones.
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Update: The SiliconDust HDHomerun Connect Quatro

I’d like to thank all of you who commented or emailed about the SiliconDust HDHomerun Connect Quatro review posted in November of last year. I’m truly amazed at the amount of interest it garnered.

And there’s some great news for those of you who have the Quatro or been on the fence about getting one – the issue reported in that review has been addressed with the 20180327 firmware!

The HDHR5 Quatro now performs on par with the HDHR4 Connect. In fact, for certain types of impairments, it may perform a bit better.

Continue reading “Update: The SiliconDust HDHomerun Connect Quatro”