When you look at the “Escort Mobile TV,” one may get some incorrect ideas about what exactly it is, so I decided to shed some light on it, in hopes of removing the confusion.
What Exactly Is Escort Mobile TV?
I took a completely unscientific survey of several of my friends and some colleagues in the tech industry. I didn’t let them look anything up after I asked them the question: “What do you think Escort Mobile TV is?” I got several answers from the people I asked:
- “Is it a small battery-powered TV?”
- “It sounds like an advertisement for a radar detector.”
- “My guess is that it’s a mobile app that lets the user watch TV on a connected mobile device.”
- “Escort Mobile? It sounds like it might have something to do with cars.”
Two of these replies were pretty close to the truth, but not exactly, while one of them made a good guess based on the name of the company — Escort, the radar detector company. Escort Mobile TV is actually a package that consists of a device that is plugged into your iDevice (iPhone, iPod, iPad) and a free app that’s available at the iTunes App Store. The external device is available through Dyle TV’s Escort Mobile page, as well as at Amazon.
Okay, so it’s a two-part package consisting of a piece of hardware and an iOS app, but what does it do? It lets you watch local broadcast digital TV stations without using up your data plan. Taking a look at the iTunes App Store, one can find an almost unlimited number of apps that allow you to use your iDevice to watch TV. However, these all transmit the TV signal to your device over the Internet, eating into your data plan.
Here’s where Escort Mobile TV begins to shine. The hardware device is a miniaturized rechargeable digital TV antenna that allows your iDevice to receive the digital TV signals that are broadcast by local TV stations. Since it receives the signals broadcast over the airwaves, free of charge, there is no usage of your data plan, whatsoever (unless you count the download of the app).
What Can I Watch Using It?
You’ll have access to many stations from your local viewing area, mainly affiliates of the major networks, like CBS, NBC, and ABC. Exactly what stations you can watch will differ from area to area, so Dyle TV has put together a coverage map. The device is pretty new, so as of now, coverage is pretty spotty and reserved for major metropolitan areas such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, etc., but there are plans on the horizon to roll it out into some smaller markets.
As an example, I entered one of the zip codes for the Denver area (80012) and the coverage map tells me I can watch the local NBC affiliate KUSA, but nothing more. I next punched in one of the zip codes for the Dallas area, 75211. Users in this area can watch the ABC affiliate WFAA, the CBS affiliate KTVT, Fox’s KDFW, NBC’s KXAS, Telemundo’s KXTX, and Qubo’s KPXD.
This appears to me to be a handy little device for commuters and people that do lots of waiting in lines for flights, trains, in the doctor’s office, or pretty much anywhere within the coverage area. What this means in a practical sense is that even if you’re stuck somewhere when the big game, big news, or your favorite series you’ve been looking forward to comes on, you won’t have to miss them.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
Personally, as frugal as I am, the first drawback is the price. If you buy through the Dyle TV site linked above, you’ll pay about $100 for the USB device, the antenna, the adapter, and a user’s guide, while if you buy through Amazon you’ll be paying around $120. I’d like to see it about half that price, but it’s new, so I would say the price will come down over time.
As of right now, the Escort Mobile TV is only for users of Apple devices — including the 4th-generation iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone 4 or newer. Also, if you have a 5th-generation Touch or a newer iPad or iPhone, you’ll have to spring for an adapter, since the connectors are different.
Escort Mobile TV looks to me like a cool little device. However, I think I’d give it a few months to see if the price will come down any.