Direct Over-The-Air TV Coming to iPad and iPhone

You can now get video on your iPhone (s aapl) or iPad from any number of sources, but grabbing over-the-air local TV directly, which is still the best (legal) way to get TV for free at home in the living room hasn’t been a possibility. That’s going to change, thanks to iOS-compatible mobile digital television (DTV) receivers.

The Tivizen, by Korean manufacturer Valups and introduced at CES, is one such device. It plugs into the iDevice’s 30-pin connector, and requires no cellular or data connection to work, so it’s even fully compatible with the iPod touch. All that’s required is an app, downloadable via the official App Store. The Tivizen grabs any available local DTV broadcasts and outputs them in a format your device can recognize and play back. Valups launched a previous iteration of the Tivizen last year, but it was a separate device that had to re-transmit the DTV signals it received to other devices via Wi-Fi.

Content selection will be limited, but not so limited as you might imagine. Checking the mobile DTV station guide from the Open Mobile Video Coaltion (OMVC), it looks like major network affiliates for most large urban areas in the U.S. will be covered. That’s thanks in part by a big push this year by OMVC to make more local mobile broadcasts more available.

When it launches in June of this year, the Tivizen will cost approximately $99, and the app required to use it will be free. When I returned from living in Japan three years ago, that would’ve seemed like a good deal to me, since cellular over-the-air TV was fairly common there and we had little to compare with it, I think the Tivizen and its ilk might fall into the “too little, too late” category. The device has its own battery, which is only good for a maximum of 2.5 hours usage. And with Neftlix(s nflx), Hulu Plus and streaming video apps from the networks themselves, how much demand is there really for local DTV?

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