IDTV Explained: What You Need to Know

Date Posted:15 December 2012 

IDTV is the latest spin on how we watch television. With analogue television due to be switched off next year in Australia, digital television is the next big thing and IDTV promises to be even bigger.

What is IDTV?

Integrated Digital Television (IDTV) is television without the need for a digital set-top box. It can be in the form of a television set with a built-in digital tuner, or a portable tuner that plugs into mobile devices such as iPads.

IDTV features

The most exciting application of IDTV is its use with portable devices, where plugging in an IDTV tuner allows you to watch TV on iPad wherever you are. While portable digital television is not new, it has traditionally been available via streaming, which does not offer the same image quality as digital and eats up bandwidth, costing the user money. IDTV does not require an Internet connection, so free-to-air television is free to watch. The only cost is the device itself (the IDTV tuner), which works through an app available free from the iTunes store.

The main features are:

  • You can watch, pause, rewind and record live TV programs
  • You can record a TV program in the background, while you continue using your device for other things
  • A free electronic program guide is included with an easy-to-use interface that lets you scroll through and find your favourite programs to record
  • You can also listen to digital radio channels
  • It has a built-in battery that doesn’t drain your iPad and gives up to eight hours viewing time between charges.


As with any TV, you need an antenna to pick up a signal and portable IDTV comes with a choice of three antennas for use in different situations. If you are indoors, you can use the RF adaptor to plug into any standard coaxial TV wall jack. If you are out and about, you can either use the base antenna with magnetic stand or the telescopic antenna, depending on which produces the better signal.

Signal strength will vary depending on where you are, so you will need to experiment a little, but generally the telescopic antenna provides the best picture in most outdoor situations.


There are two main drawbacks to portable IDTV. The main one is that it currently only works on certain portable devices; namely, the iPad 2, the new iPad and the iPhone 4S. This is because IDTV requires greater processing power, which only these newer devices offer at present.

The other problem is that it only picks up certain stations. While all Australian SD channels are available, it won’t pick up HD channels such as ABC News 24, 7Mate, Gem or One -- but there is still plenty of quality viewing content and this problem will no doubt be addressed at some stage in the future.

Given the price (under $100) and the amazing versatility it offers, IDTV is well worth the money for those who want to add ‘digital television’ to the growing list of things their portable devices can do.