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Microtune boots up for in-car TV

Watching TV while the rubber economy burns?

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Digital tuner chip company Microtune has launched a new chip for in-car reception of DVB-T signals, a market expected to explode during 2009, despite the obvious luxury status of in-car TV reception.

Getting a decent TV signal into a car isn't as easy as it might initially appear. Traditional analogue systems are only good up to around 40kmph with aerials that provide a useful boomerang for Crocodile Dundee's chauffeur but lack the smooth lines of today's vehicles. To get a decent signal you need multiple tuners, attached to multiple antennas - up to four of them if you want to be able to watch while bowling down the autobahn at 200kmph.

Which is where Microtune's new $7.50 chip comes in. Attached to aerials concealed within the rear window, and the two rear passenger windows if necessary, the four signals combined can pick up digital TV at 210kmph. Microtune tells us that 25 million digital tuners will be fitted to cars during 2009, though at an average of 2.5 tuners per car that's only 10 million vehicles world wide.

Most of those will be in Asia - predominantly Japan - as Americans prefer to watch DVDs in the back of the car. Which is strange, as we've always understood Japanese TV to be even worse than what's available in the USA, even if the coverage is better. ®

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