Bonnie Cha

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RCA Looks to Make Mark in Tablet Market With Free Live TV

It’s not a name you hear too often anymore when it comes to tech products, but today, RCA introduced a new Android tablet that lets you watch live TV on the go for free.


The RCA Mobile TV Tablet features two built-in tuners — one standard over-the-air DTV tuner for when you’re stationary and one mobile tuner for when you’re on the go. It’s the first tablet to support Dyle’s mobile TV service, which provides access to 130 TV stations across the U.S.

Dyle is currently available in 35 markets, and works with the Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G smartphone from MetroPCS and iOS devices, using a $100 accessory from Elgato. Compared to the smartphone experience, viewing video should be more enjoyable on the tablet’s larger eight-inch, 1,024 by 768 pixel touchscreen.

The RCA Mobile TV tablet also has twin speakers, dual cameras, eight gigabytes of memory and an HDMI port. RCA estimates battery life at up to four hours in mobile TV mode or up to 10 hours when just browsing the Web.

While there are many ways to watch TV shows on tablets, Dyle is a bit different in that it’s free, and doesn’t require a data or Wi-Fi connection. But it also has its limitations.

As my colleague Lauren Goode found out when she tested Dyle on the Samsung Galaxy S Lightray, the service was inconsistent. Also, while it displays program information and closed captioning, it does not offer HD content or DVR options.

There’s also the question of whether people really want live TV on their mobile devices. Companies like Qualcomm have tried it before, and the feedback hasn’t been all that great.

RCA introduced a similar tablet at last year’s CES, but it never made it to market. RCA said it held off in order to incorporate more features like access to the Google Play App store.

The RCA Mobile TV Tablet will be available this spring for $299, and will also be on display at International CES.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus