Monday, November 7, 2011

The IECEP Exhibition 2011 Rundown


Last November 3 to 5, the Institute of Electronics Engineers of the Philippines (IECEP) conducted its annual conference, exposition and exhibition at the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. The premiere organization of the country’s electronics engineers once again highlighted some of the best talks for the continuous efforts on profession’s education. Aside from that, alongside with the seminars, the IECEP showcased exhibitors from the top companies from the broadcast, telecommunications and networking systems, digital electronics and other related fields of electronics engineering.


For DTV Pilipinas, we joined the group of the Society of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians of the Philippines or SBETP under Engr. John Achilles Denna, the organization’s secretary. Aside from him, the former president and the man who brought ISDB-T here in the Philippines, Engr. James Santiago, is also present in the said event to represent his company, Village Island, one of the three companies who made the new PTV and Gem HD’s datacasts possible. Among those companies under the SBETP booth were the Integrated Services for Digital Television (ISDTV), the Philippines’ future digital terrestrial television tagging, Village Island, Eagle World Development (EWD), Access Co. Ltd., and Itochu Cable.


The whole booth of the SBETP features the ISDB-T, or the Integrated Services Digital Broadcast, the country’s digital terrestrial television standard adopted from Japan last 11 June 2010. The SBETP, along with the KBP, are known to be supportive of the ISDB-T since its arrival in 2008. Itochu Cable highlights some of the broadcast’s cabling systems like the channel distribution, automated video playout, multi-screen and cable internet. They also feature some of the ways in digital TV broadcasting.


From Access Co. Ltd. under Mr. Hideoki Carlos Ito and Mr. Susumu Sato, they showcased the company’s efforts on trialing data broadcast through Gem HD and PTV’s digital TV channels. With data broadcast, or simply datacast, a user can check out the latest data information real-time on TV while watching programs. These datacasts are broadcasted in simulcast with the video streams of a TV station.


DSC_1434They also do the efforts of simulating a digital TV broadcast transmission using their own transmitter system. While broadcasting, Mr. Sato calibrates the transmission’s streams and data broadcast while we’re checking their booth. Along with the transmission were featuring the Sharp Aquos Phone 923SH from Softbank (which wDSC_1431ill have us a review soon), and a PlayStation Portable (PSP) with 1seg TV tuner connected on the game console. Those devices shows the Access’ data broadcast streams on 1seg phones. Beneath the booth is a 32” Sharp Aquos Quattron TV connected to a full-seg set-top box from Eagle World Development (EWD), showing the full-seg SD stream broadcasted and the datacast on a television.


What wowed us was the Eagle World Development’s booth of the company’s CEO, Mr. Kenji. The company showcased some of the ISDB-T digital TV receivers they will be offering in the near future once the digital television has been commenced. Some of their receivers were set-top boxes, all capable of receiving high-definition (HD) television broadcast through HDMI, and also features datacast and Emergency Warning Broadcast System (EWBS), the most essential feature of the ISDB-T. Though the EWBS haven’t been demonstrated yet publicly, even inside the IECEP exhibition, we were told by Mr. Kenji that those boxes will surely be capable of receiving emergency warnings when a TV network will once tested the service. Sadly, only one set-top boxes were seen in the booth, but we expect to have them in the next IECEP exhibition. Two of them we want to see is the ISDB-T/DVB-S combo box and the set-top box with Wi-Fi dongle support, which can be used for return channels of datacast streams.


They have the prototype of the full-seg ISDB-T mobile TV tuner for vehicles. It has a dual TV tuner inside, though we forgot to ask how do those work since they only show the tuner itself without trials, capable of receiving high-definition (HD) television broadcast but it doesn’t have an HDMI port. What it has is a D-Tanshi connector, a popular television port in Japanese TV sets, which is also capable of carrying HD signals over its connection. Along with the D-connectors are the popular analog RCA I/O ports and two antenna ports. It also has a mini-BCAS or the Broadcast Conditional Access System card slot, which is used for encrypted television channels usually offered by pay-TV services, a USB slot used for firmware upgrade, and an infra-red connector for remote controls.


A portable TV is also present in the EWD’s booth. This device includes 1seg mobile TV shown in a 5” TFT LCD screen. It can handle popular music, photo and video files. It also has FM transmitter for car stereos and games for touchscreen but the prototype doesn’t have any. E-books are also readable by the tablet, but it only supports TXT file, which we expect it supports Adobe PDF files. What unique feature it has is the GPS navigation system. Badly, the GPS cannot be tracked inside the SMX since it is heavily-shielded. It contains MicroSD and SDHC slot, 3.5 mm. earphone jack, a 3.5 mm. video-out jack and a mini-USB port on the side.


Next in the package is a tiny square 1seg USB TV tuner connected on a netbook. It is quite smaller compared to a five-peso coin (as shown below). The tuner has a vertical coax whip antenna with a mini-F-type connector at the end of the line. It has remote control in the package, and a mini-disc as its software inclusion. The software is currently in evaluation version, but once it is marketed, the software included will be finally licensed as for EWD. The software can support timeshifting and recording 1seg programs on the computer, apart from EPG support.


Last but not the least, is the prototypes of the EWD 1seg phones which we featured months ago via ISDB-T Philippines Facebook page. It comes in black and fuchsia pink, and is quite similar to those from MyPhone, Cherry Mobile and Torque since its UI is almost the same to Shanzai’s. It has a tactile QWERTY keyboard, 2.2” QCIF-resolution LCD screen, a single VGA camera (which is contrary to what it is written on the poster) with LED flash, a loud speaker with built-in K-Digital audio amplifier insider (well, we don’t know what’s that either), and most of all, it features a quad-SIM capability on a quadband GSM network. It does support popular music and video files and far more is it has dual TV tuner inside, one for analog NTSC and one for digital 1seg ISDB-T.


On the UI, the ATV (analog TV) and DTV (digital TV) were separated from each other. We think it is better to make those reception combined in one application, but the phones are still prototypes, and may be subjected to change. Both the analog and digital TV tuner scanning were quite fast (but in fact, the real theory is analog should scan faster than digital since the latter requires signal decoding and synchronization). The sound is superb, though it breaks when it reaches its max level. But thanks to 3.5 mm. earphone jack, any type of headsets can be supported by the phone. The phone has a micro-USB port, which can be used for computer data transfer and power charging. It is tentatively and approximately cost around P 4,000 to P 5,000 in the market when officially available.


After we’ve seen those devices, we we’re able to talk to some of the people around the booth, especially with Mr. Kenji of EWD. We exchanged some ideas, and he’s very open to our suggestions. Particularly, we’re hoping for a full-seg USB TV tuner for PCs and laptops since most of the people now are into mobility. Apart from that, we’ve also suggested to have a 1seg phone dongle for any mobile phones that will support digital TV. Mr. Kenji said that EWD will also have a prototype of the full-seg USB TV tuner soon. Luckily, he gave the tiny 1seg TV tuner to Admin-3 after the exhibition as a present since we’ve supported the EWD’s drive in the exhibition that whole day.


Aside from that, we have also the chance to talk to Mr. Sato of Access Co. Ltd. about the datacast, and we reminded of Gem HD’s datacast over 1seg, since only PTV had changed totally its whole data broadcast from full-seg to 1seg. He said the concern will be fully polished soon since Gem HD’s side is open for an upgrade and the service is still in trial.


Cutting the whole story short, the whole IECEP exhibition was more fun than last year’s. The campaign for ISDB-T and the road to digital terrestrial television is being strengthened as early as today for us to being educated and informed in the future’s forthcoming. People passed by the booth were amazed of the technology and we even had a chance to explain how it works, and they believed to what DTV has to succeed. Next up will be the KBP Top Level Management that will be held at Clark, Pampanga on the next week and we expect another showcasing of receivers and transmission system for digital broadcast of the future.


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