MobileInfocenter

Sony Develops TV-Tuner Chips For Mobile Devices

Sony Japan has announced that it has developed some of the smallest TV tuners designed for PDAs and other mobile devices. When integrated with a mobile device the user would be able to receive and view broadcast television.

These modules are so small that Sony engineers gave its volumes in ml which is reasonable if you think of the size of unit. There are two different models. The first and smallest chip – BTF-ZJ401 has just a 1.5 ml volume (25x20x3mm, 3.5g). That is roughly 1/25th the size of chips on the market today. The second, BTF-ZJ411 is a bit bigger at 2.5ml (40x22.5x2.8mm, 4g). The main difference between two modules is the ability of BTF-ZJ411 to extract stereo sound from the radio signal.

Sony TV Tuner ChipsBoth chips can receive a common radio signal input for VHF (1-12 channel) and UHF (13-62 channel), with an impressive signal/noise ratio of 47 dB. The smaller 401 model achieves this with a low 0.8w power consumption.

The main problem for designers of such a small radio units is that it usually contains many induction coils; size of those cannot be reduced endlessly. Sony developed a special chip transforming the radio signal in order to replace all the external coils. Both tuners have a digital interface for simple integration into other digital devices as PDA, laptops and tablet PCs.

Sony says they are planning to supply samples of the modules in February 2003. There is no information on what PDA will be the first to host a TV-tuner, but one can guess - it should be by Sony. Starting prices look high: $299 for BTF-ZJ401 and $340 for BTF-ZJ411, but we can expect them to drop after few months. It is also not clear from the sources whether tuners are planned to be a flash-cards, integrated into memory sticks or factory built-in.

A big thanks to Mick, for help with this article.

Related Info:

Article Comments

 (41 comments)

The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. PalmInfocenter is not responsible for them in any way.
Please Login or register here to add your comments.

Comments Closed Comments Closed
This article is no longer accepting new comments.

Down View Full Comment Thread

Now it's starting to get interesting

Psikotic @ 10/25/2002 12:06:42 PM #
How cool is this? Don't know about reception quality or anything, but it certainly opens a lot of possibilities. Man, I love technology!

RE: Now it's starting to get interesting
Ronin @ 10/25/2002 12:19:28 PM #
I Sony is going to continue to put everything including the kitchen sink in their PDAs (assuming there is a market for such a device) they need to developing/improving battery technology.

I've heard many announcements about Sony reducing the size of components but none about, perhaps, the most significant issue with any portable device - battery life. By the time Sony is done, we will be lucky if the battery life of a Palm device is the same as (let alone greater than) a PPC. Especially, if some of you get your wish that Sony buy Palm outright.

I just hope that in the future I hear an announcement from Sony that give an indication that they are using some of their vast resources to improve battery life.

In the Spirit of Umoja,
Ronin

RE: Now it's starting to get interesting
sandbuck @ 10/25/2002 1:48:28 PM #
:I Sony is going to continue to put everything
:including the kitchen sink in their PDAs.....
:they need to developing/improving battery technology.

Jeez dude, you could take all the fun out of free money...

Anyway, can any E-Es out there explain how you mimmick induction coils on a chip?


RE: Now it's starting to get interesting
Lucan @ 10/25/2002 1:59:02 PM #
Uh, Ronin, I hate to rain on your parade, but some PPCs already have much better battery life than Sony (ie. iPAQ 39XX vs. NR/NX series)

Lucan

RE: Now it's starting to get interesting
Dang Dog @ 10/25/2002 3:24:46 PM #
This is really intriguing. Sony has already previewed an MS-slot TV tuner at a show in Japan, and there are various other MS gadgets as well, but integrated tele on the Clie is a great idea; add a phone and a camera and its Dick Tracey.


Also,Sony just announced a new screen last week that was much more efficient. Maybe with better chips and screens overall energy demands will drop for the new devices.

I'm not sure why everyone whines so much about battery life ( rhymes with get a life...). Get a battery charger or one for the car.

Give me innovation over the American company's stagnation anyday.

RE: Now it's starting to get interesting
I.M Anonymous @ 10/25/2002 5:07:12 PM #
If they can bring the price down, this may finally convince me to get a Sony. If I can have a TV with me at all times, well, that would be pretty cool. The haldheld alone would still be smaller than the smallest portable TV out there.

RE: Now it's starting to get interesting
abosco @ 10/25/2002 5:21:30 PM #
Not only that, but it may allow for even high-definition compatible programs on channels (such as Boston Public on Fox which allows for wide-screen, high-definition viewing) and wide screen use. Just think of watching a show on the NR in widescreen, high-res! Wouldn't that just be amazing?

---
I suport pudlik edicashun.
RE: Now it's starting to get interesting
aardvarko @ 10/27/2002 10:42:20 AM #
Reducing the size of a chip usually reduces its electrical requirements, as well...

-aardvarko
webmaster at aardvarko dot com
http://aardvarko.com
RE: Now it's starting to get interesting
RAMdŽd @ 10/28/2002 5:39:50 AM #
HDTV on a PDA is beyond interesting. It's almost Sci-Fi at this point.

Regardless, I don't want video or MP3s on a PDA. But an audio tuner for TV and FM (which is around Ch. 6 on a TV tuner) would be really cool.

I'd even be happy witn Mono reception, unless the Stereo S/N was really good.

And a lot of TV audio products just have VHF reception, and not UHF. This is starting to get interesting.

______________________________
An armed society is a polite society.

RE: Now it's starting to get interesting
Uninformed @ 10/29/2002 9:31:27 PM #
Ladies and Gentlemen, what is your gut reaction on how the new Sony TV tuners will come into play? Do you think we're going to see new CLIE's in early 2003 with tuners built in? Or some kind of add on.

I ask because I am contemplating an NX70 purchase. Boy would I feel stupid if I bought and the "NX80" has a tuner that won't be a third party add on for the '70.

Give me your best guess. THanks

Great until 2007 in UK.

Fly-By-Night @ 10/25/2002 12:07:15 PM #
I was just about to castigate PIC for doing no work on a Friday, but here we are.

These look great, only problem is analogue television transmission in the UK is (supposed) to be turned off completely in 2007 -- right about the time they should be selling for a few dollars per chip. Will Sony have digital TV chips out by then?

Should cut down on the costs of getting steaming video over 3G though. May never get any work done ever again.....

RE: Great until 2007 in UK.
jjsoh @ 10/25/2002 12:11:40 PM #
Well, at least it will theoretically be available in time for the next World Cup. ;)

Seriously though, does anyone know how difficult it would be to implement a TV tuner add-on device via SD or MS? Are there any out in the market or in development (not necessarily for Palm OS5, but for a Palm OS PDA in general)? If not, what would be the limitations that wouldn't allow for such a device to be created?

Thanks.

Jim

RE: Great until 2007 in UK.
Mick @ 10/25/2002 12:36:03 PM #
The main limitation, I think, is the size. If they'll use telescopic antenna then it should be attached to some sort of 'jacket', like those TV-jackets for iPaq. But they can also design the same antenna like Sony Watchman has. Or even headphone cable can serve as aerial (with some limitations), but then you can only listen programs alone.
RE: Great until 2007 in UK.
PFloyd @ 10/25/2002 12:45:00 PM #
I would imagine by then they'd have digital/HDTV style chips.

RE: Great until 2007 in UK.
D144 @ 10/25/2002 3:10:56 PM #
Not just the U.K.!

Although most Americans don't realize it, analog TV will be shut of in the U.S. on December 31, 2006.

But like PFloyd said, by then... who knows

What this thing really needs

cyn @ 10/25/2002 12:33:54 PM #
They don't need tv-tuning capability, so much as composite/s-video/etc. Sure, it sounds silly, but think about it... if they're really trying to push all their gear, being able to interface your new Clie with
http://news.com.com/2100-1040-962826.html would be a massive selling point. Naturally, to keep down on size, you'd want the connectors (or the majority of them) to be in a little break-out box or cable that you carry, maybe just have a connector that could accept composite video (give you basic tv-in) or just svideo [which can have a very small dongle to accept the composite video]. I don't think there would be much reason to do audio through this interface (audio-in) because you can just take the audio coming from the player and connect your headphones, thus reducing the complexity and overhead on the handheld.

Call me a sony fanboy if you will (hmm - clie, minidisc player, and t68i ... crud I am one!) but in all reality, sony WANTS their consumers to be using multiple sony gadgets together - and this would enable just that.

RE: What this thing really needs
scaught @ 10/25/2002 12:46:33 PM #
good call.

who wants to watch TV? i want some RCA jacks so i can hook my gamecube up to it.

RE: What this thing really needs
sandbuck @ 10/25/2002 1:57:54 PM #

I need FM/AM tuner for a start.

graph @ 10/25/2002 12:41:08 PM #
TV may not be as useful to me coz i mostly use AM/FM. i think AM/fM should go with every flash memory Mp3players like t665c since you can only hold so few songs and would be looping on the same song within an hour.


but hey im not stopping the TV tuner..go ahead sony.



RE: I need FM/AM tuner for a start.
graph @ 10/25/2002 12:44:52 PM #
by the way, they should really concentrate more on researching better batteries that lasts longer. =)

RE: I need FM/AM tuner for a start.
Midknyte @ 10/25/2002 1:25:43 PM #
Me Too!

I would like to have even just integrated AM/FM Radio to go along with MP3 functionality.

RE: I need FM/AM tuner for a start.
ganoe @ 10/25/2002 1:31:22 PM #
I'm surprised they didn't at least include an FM tuner. It is essentially the same hardware as it is for TV audio.
I want aTV/FM tuner...
RAMdŽd @ 10/28/2002 5:46:01 AM #
...because it is do-able, if it already does TV.

AM would be another matter. It needs a ferrite core antenna, and I don't think short wires (ala Sony Watchman) alone, would work.

Besides, the quality of AM varies so greatly and is subject to so much more interferance.

But TV/FM..? Yeah, baby!

______________________________
An armed society is a polite society.

Why not an AM/FM memory stick radio?

mdquerng @ 10/25/2002 12:58:48 PM #
Although the thought of watching some TV on my Clie is pretty cool, I can't understand why no one has come up with a realatively cheap AM/FM MS radio tuner. It would be easy and low cost to manufacture. It could have an on-screen tuner program for the PDA with memory presets stored right on the MS.

Would anyone else be keen on buying one of these? I'd buy one if the price was between $50 - $100. I hope Sony is listening.

Later;
Q

RE: Why not an AM/FM memory stick radio?
robrecht @ 10/25/2002 1:17:11 PM #
The TV and the Radio Memory Sticks are really cool ideas, but maybe we should worry about why SONY has failed in its promise to increase Memory Stick capacity--which is about 1/10 the capacity of what's soon to be available for SD.

And SONY's battery life is already worse than some ever more respectable entries into the pocket PC market.

And by the way, I have SONY everything, so I'm not a SONY basher. I just hope SONY does not abandon it's Memory Stick technology with so many devices out there that depend on it.

Thanks, Robrecht

RE: Why not an AM/FM memory stick radio?
BiffK @ 10/25/2002 1:50:04 PM #
When I registered my Clie sony had a questionaire to fill out. They asked about what features would I like to see in a future Clie... FM Tuner was one of the options. I, of course, checked all of them!

-Biff K

Cool. But batts need to be improved..

helf @ 10/25/2002 2:52:27 PM #
They need to improve batteries before they put much more in thier pda's. Right now, a NX-70 with a wifi card only lasts bout 1.5-2hours before it needs to be charged :(

we need these kind of batteries :D http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Oct02/cantilever.ws.html

ATOMIC! :D would run for years....

RE: Cool. But batts need to be improved..
renurb @ 10/25/2002 11:40:55 PM #
Just read through all the comments above concerning batteries and wanted to throw in my two cents...

Rechargable, removable, replaceable tripple-A batteries, that's all...

I won't buy a device (ex. digital camera, pda, with or without TV tuner, minidisc player, etc... yes I'm a Sony fan.) which does not use easily replacable batteries.

Blessed are they who don't,
for they shall not,
nor will they.

RE: Cool. But batts need to be improved..
Stingray @ 10/26/2002 9:22:28 AM #
Just wondering, where did you get the info on the NX70 battery life? I cant seem to find it. Anyway, maybe its using the new low powered screen and has other optimizations for conserving power.


"May the potato be with you!"
RE: Cool. But batts need to be improved..
helf @ 10/26/2002 10:39:39 PM #
A friend of mine ordered a nx-60 and just got it a few days ago.. he had tested batt life and told us...

RE: Cool. But batts need to be improved..
ikea55 @ 10/27/2002 9:00:29 PM #
AA/AAA batteries are the best!!
I only buy handheld stuff that uses AA/AAA

- cheap
- easy to find, and you can always use alkalin in case of emergency
- long lasting (1700ma ni-mh AA)
- interchangeble between the devices, so if my GPS dies on a trip, I can always take the batteries out of my digital camera.


Improved batteries would be Li-O polymer AAAA cells
RAMdŽd @ 10/28/2002 5:51:28 AM #
AA or AAA are just too big for a pocket PDA. AAAAs might just barely fit. (I use non-rechargeable AA Lithiums in my remotes, and get *very* long life.)

But I'd settle for proprietary batteries, if I could carry a spare, and replace it (them) myself.

AAs are fine for larger devices, and are easily found almost anywhere in the world. That's a big plus.


______________________________
An armed society is a polite society.

Satellite dish add-on

TDS Computer @ 10/26/2002 12:29:56 AM #
I have just invented a new baseball cab that holds a full size satellite dish that hooks to this device. Now you can receive hundreds of channels of quality programming on your clie.
Unfortunatley, you have to stand perfectly still and face south while tuning in, and Pay-Per-View will not be available until Version 1.1 ships.

Visit us at www.tdscomputer.com

VHF - UHF

wmckelvey @ 10/26/2002 12:57:40 PM #
Just a quick correction, VHF is 1-13 and UHF is 14-83.

Well, at least in the USA.

Satellite

Haber @ 10/26/2002 1:14:07 PM #
I'm waiting for an omni-directional satellite add-on so that I can watch a bajillion channels, not just broadcast.

RE: Satellite
Tuckermaclain @ 10/27/2002 10:39:07 AM #
I made a joke on this board a year ago that Sony would soon offer XM radio in a Palm. At their current pace they could. I would like one, but before that I WOULD LIKE A BATTERY THAT LASTS! They should increase the size some and stuff thing full of Li-ion.

Is Sony the swiss army-knife of PDAs?

Chankla @ 10/27/2002 2:58:51 PM #
OK beyond all of the Address, Datebook, Memo, Clock, Calculator PDA stuff, Sony brings additional bundled functions:
Still Camera
Movie Camera (with VIVID or FullScreen)
MP3 player
Dictation (Voice) recorder
Multi-Remote Control
Flashlight (OK this is a stretch, but you all do it)

...Now, AM/FM radio and Broadcast TV receiver...

GO SONY!!!



Battery

Qube @ 10/27/2002 11:11:34 PM #
One battery sticks out in my mind... The one for the Tx8 series Ericsson cell phones. It's razor thin yet allows the phone to function for WEEKS on end before needing a recharge. Low power consumption may have to do with it too, but this Li-Poly battery is quite a feat. Hopefully the Sony-Ericsson arm will lend a hand.

RE: Battery
sirgeek @ 10/28/2002 6:52:11 AM #
i think a cellphone is a different thing compared to a pda.

RE: Battery
Qube @ 10/28/2002 5:57:33 PM #
Oh how funny.

I'm commenting on the capacity of a wafer thin battery versus the standard 'bulky' LiIon cell phone batteries.

Sheesh.

Top View Full Comment Thread