CES 2007: Live Report

Digital TV broadcasting for mobile devices has been in the works for a while now, with the service available mainly in Asia. During CES, Verizon Wireless announced its intention to commercially launch its MediaFLO based solution. Currently, there are several competing standard - with the main one being DVB-H mainly used by GSM providers, DVB-T/S mainly used in Asia and MediaFLO.

The VCAST TV, unlike the current Verizon offering, does not use the regular cellular network, but rather completely separate spectrum to broadcast its signal. The receiver, built-in the VCAST TV capable phones will pick it up. Unlike the current on-demand offerings, this one is worthy of having the name TV. After starting it, the TV channels are shown in only a matter of a few seconds. The quality is like real TV - and we do not mean the analog but the DIGITAL. Gone are the laughable refresh rates of about 4-5 per second - the motions are smooth, colors are bright and the overall experience is very pleasurable. A lot of people will argue the quality of the viewing experience, given the small screen size and the need to "hold" you TV while watching. We definitely prefer to have the choice to watch TV despite the obvious drawbacks, then not to have such an option at all.

The service is scheduled to become commercially available sometime in Q1. According to VW, the TV programming will not include live feeds all the time. Sometime they might, sometime they might show re-runs from the previous day, sometime they might show top-rated shows or sporting events.

The initial lineup will include programming from TV’s best channels and shows, including CBS, Comedy Central, FOX, NBC News, NBC Entertainment, MTV and Nickelodeon. Additional channels are expected to be added to the lineup after launch. A program guide is also available and includes date, time and program information, and also allows customers to view programming details up to 48 hours ahead of the scheduled broadcast.

The initial lineup of phones will consist of LG VX-9400 and Samsung aU620. Both devices feature QVGA displays, which will be the minimum required for the VCAST TV service.

The LG VX-9400’s display swivels 90 degrees to become landscape oriented for better viewing experience. The main keyboard lies below the display, so in order to be used, the screen has to be rotated every time. Below the keypad is a section with D-pad, two soft-keys and a TV-dedicated one. Since the TV is broadcasted through a separate frequency, a special antenna could be extended in case of weak signal. During our tests, the antenna was down and the TV quality was still excellent.

Samsung SCH-U620 is the second model Verizon will have available at the commercial launch of the VCAST TV service. Unlike the VX-9400, the Samsung has to be held horizontally in order to watch the TV service. Its antenna, which is actually quite shorter compared with the LG’s one sticks out from the left side when help as you would normally will, or up if you hold it in "TV-watching" position. The phone’s features include 1.3 mega pixel camera, with 2 inch display, again with 240x320 resolution; microSD memory expansion and Bluetooth.


1 Comment

1. unregistered

Excellent Coverage!

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