Roadshow Video Reviews
AT&T CruiseCastThe age-old dream of TV in your car is within reach.
[ Engine roaring ] ^M00:00:02 >> Ah, it's the age-old dream: TV in the car as you drive. I recall back in the '70s, we did that by clamping an aerial on the rain gutter and sticking a little portable Panasonic or Sony TV in the back. It didn't work, but it does now. A lot of companies are offering TV on the go. And we're gonna show you one that we saw at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, and now it's here for real. ^M00:00:22 [ Music ] ^M00:00:25 Up on top of this vehicle is the little -- and I mean little -- satellite receiver that is the basis of AT&T Cruisecast. Previously, these kind of receivers were a lot larger. But what's in here is the same concept that's always been key to satellite reception: a phased array. Tuning elements are in there that are physically moving to stay aimed at the sky for optimal signal reception. Now, once the signal's locked here, it goes down this impossibly thin, little piece of coax right there, into the vehicle, and this can fit in just about any vehicle, by the way. And here, it hits a set-top box, basically. This gets hid and you don't see this thing in your car. And you recognize these jacks; these are classic RCAs. Stereo, audio, and the yellow guy is video. And that'll feed any number of monitors you have around the car. But none of this matters if it doesn't work. Let's go for a ride and find out if it does. ^M00:01:15 [ Music ] ^M00:01:19 Okay, so what's on TV? Well, interestingly, more than just TV. They have 42 channels here. 22 of those are satellite television -- we'll talk about those in a minute. The other 20 are their own blend of satellite radio. But it's not Sirius XM. It's with provider Music Choice, who you may know for doing audio on your cable system or on your satellite fixed system in your home. Let's see what's on the channel guide. You've got one just like you have at home. You can see you've got your sports channels there, including NFL. We've also got Noggin. Let's see. MTV mobile -- little different flavor of MTV. Actually plays music videos still, if you can imagine that. And we've got Discovery, Animal Planet, Fox News is in here, CNN Mobile. So it's quite an array. Unlike some other providers I could mention who do satellite TV but only have children's channels, this has got something for everyone. You can see some interesting data here. Signal level. That's the satellite level. You can tell if you're getting a good shot or not. You know, minus seven, minus 8 is a pretty good signal in a city area. Once you get down to more like minus 15, minus 20, you're starting to really drop off. Luckily you've got this other thing right here, which is a buffer. Up to two minutes of video buffering. So you can be in the dark, if you will, and you're still gonna be getting your video. That's a pretty long time. Now, we're gonna give this system a really tough test right now. We're heading west on one of the canyons in the south of market area of San Francisco. As you can see, we're down to infinity, which is no signal at all. There's nothing right now. We're living off our buffer. And you can watch it go up and down, green or red, depending on how well you're doing in working the buffer, filling it, or if you're living off it because you don't have a signal right now. Now, you bring your own monitor to this situation, you could have two, like we have, a single drop-down in the center. You could also wire it into the main LCD on the front as a video display, which a lot of cars do with their internal DVD player. Again, that's not supposed to work unless the car's in park with the parking break on. So don't freak about this being the ultimate driver distraction. You've also got parental controls on this system, by the way. Again, just like a home set-top box. You can go in there and you can decide to set things up in a number of ways. You can block an entire channel, or you can block a program by its rating. Okay, so, you will have challenges in the city/urban environment from time to time, but the buffering technology does a pretty good job of catching up. The video quality, as you can see, is kind of like watching TV on an airliner, for example. So what about HD? They can do that. It's a matter of demand. I mean, bits is bits, right? You can send more of them to do high definition if the market cries out for that. They may also be adding premium movie channels and things of that nature in the future. It's a very agile system. Now, today, to get this system installed, it's about $1300 for the gear. That's the dish on the roof and that set-top box that gets buried somewhere in the car. You've gotta bring your own monitors if you don't have any. So your installer would add those on top of that. And the ballpark installation, around a couple hundred bucks. On top of the install and the gear, you're looking at $28 a month for the service. That's the TV channels and the satellite radio. The system's currently available at 12-volt shops. You know, like car media places, car stereo shops, and some auto dealers have it. So all-in, with tax, you're probably looking at $2,000 or less if you start with a vehicle that has nothing in it. Again, this is AT&T Cruisecast. ^M00:04:33 [ Music ]