RCA DMT336R 3.5-inch MDTV Set

Sitting beside my laptop computer is the coolest portable TV I have ever used. But the question I’m trying to answer is whether anyone’s going to want it.

Few people realize it, but broadcast TV has gone through a technical revolution in the last two years. The Mobile DTV standard, approved in October 2009 and now being rolled out, allows mostly glitch-free reception of digital TV broadcasts while you’re on the go — something the original ATSC digital TV system was never designed to do.

Why do so few people know about MDTV, despite the fact that this revolution is indeed being televised? There are lots of reasons:

1) Most people get their TV from cable, satellite and, increasingly, the Internet. Ain’t much buzz about broadcast these days. Even the Consumer Electronics Association, an organization that back in the 1990s was pushing really hard to preserve broadcast TV, now seems to be throwing it under the bus.

2) Only a few stations have added MDTV capability. In Los Angeles, where TVGuide.com lists 65 digital TV channels (counting multicasts), there are currently only six MDTV feeds.

3) The promised MDTV products didn’t materialize. When I checked out prototype MDTV devices from LG in early 2010, manufacturers assured me there would be a flood of product by the end of the year. Not only was there no flood, there wasn’t even a single drop.

Reason #1 seems to be an unstoppable trend. Reason #2 may take years to change. But reason #3 is no longer, thanks to the introduction of RCA’s cute little MDTV sets.