MDTV ROAD TRIP
To give me a hands-on feel for what it’s like to live with a real, production MDTV, the PR firm representing the Open Mobile Video Coalition shipped me the first model in RCA’s line, the $169 DMT336R. I took this adorable 3.5-inch set with built-in FM radio tuner on several journeys throughout the American West. Despite its cutting-edge technology, the DMT336R proved small enough to slip easily into my panniers for a couple of tours on my recumbent trike, and it rode in my car to various destinations in California, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.
The DMT336R works all of its digital magic through onscreen menus, so the only controls are an on/off switch, a menu button, and a four-way cursor rocker with an enter button in its center. A fragile-looking antenna pulls out from the side. The side hosts jacks for an external antenna, audio/video out and headphones. Its internal battery charges with an included adapter.
It was a kick to see technology I’m used to seeing in big flat-panel TVs squeezed into this tiny TV. You can select from four aspect ratios: 4:3, 16:9 and two zoom modes. You can call up a menu of available channels for quicker access. You can get closed captions. The only picture adjustment is brightness, but I never felt the need for more.
As with a conventional DTV tuner, you have to scan for channels when you change locations. You have to do separate scans for DTV, MDTV and FM, which is easy but time-consuming. It’s all worth it, though, when you see the crisp, punchy, colorful picture on the DMT336R’s 320x240-pixel 4:3 screen. The picture was so clear I could read the text crawl scrolling under the picture on Los Angeles’ KNBC-Mobile (channel 4) even though the letters were less than 1/8 of an inch high on the little screen. It wasn’t bright enough to watch in full sunlight, but it delivers a very watchable picture in clouds or shade.
Brent Butterworth and Geoff Morrison combine their years of gear testing and knowledge in one überblog of irreverence and techiness.
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