RCA Mobile TV Tablet Hands-on: Should You Tune In?

When we heard that RCA was launching a $299 tablet that would let you tune in to free TV on the go, we got excited. Then we went to see the Android-powered RCA Mobile TV Tablet for ourselves here at CES 2013, tuning in everything from Katie Couric’s talk show to Telemundo right on the show floor.

The 8-inch Mobile TV Tablet gives you two ways to watch: an ATSC tuner for traditional over-the-air broadcasts, and one for mobile ATSC broadcasts. The mobile tuner works with the Dyle service, which at least in our neck of the woods offered a mere two channels: FOX and Telemundo. However, there were a lot more options on the Live TV menu, including local channels and TheCW.

Unfortunately, both launching the TV menu and changing channels was sluggish, and the picture was often pixelated. In some cases the video didn’t even fill the whole screen–and it’s resolution is only a mere 1024 x 768 pixels.

There’s more bad news. The Mobile TV Tablet felt heavy and thick. At 1.4 pounds, this slate weighs as much as the iPad with a screen that’s about 2 inches smaller. And while it’s possible to watch TV without it, for the best results you’ll need to pull out a very long and awkward telescoping antenna.

The Mobile TV Tablet has entry-level specs, including a a 1-GHz Cortex A5 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of onboard storage. Other features include Wi-Fi and GPS along with microUSB, micrSD Card, and HDMI output.

We’ll withhold final judgement on the RCA Mobile TV Tablet until we’re able to test a final unit–and test in areas with better reception–but for now we’re skeptical that folks will be willing to pay $100 more than the Nexus 7 or Kindle HD for the convenience of free TV. Stay tuned (ahem) for our full review. 

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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