Recently I was on a bus heading home when the person next to me was watching a live news report on the horrendous traffic jam in the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City. She was using a Samsung Instinct with Sprint as the carrier.
She could have been listening to the all news station on her MP3 player with FM radio…or sent a text message to her friend to check the status of the tunnel…or just called someone. But when she realized that the jam was going to take at least 45 minutes to clear, she started watching live videos from MTV and a financial news show live from Wall Street and then nicely let some of the regular commuters on this bus in on the latest market news, gossip and sports scores.
I’ve said streaming TV on a phone is nearly unwatchable, but I’ve changed my tune. Following that terrible ride home, when I also left my favorite Jack Finney book in the office, I started to examine several mobile phones and service providers that offer TV on a cell phone.
I’ve now used a LG Voyager via Verizon and a Samsung Instinct through Sprint’s network and got terrific home videos and even cable-like TV, just like the advertisements say.
And yes, I’ve used the iPhone to get to YouTube, but despite its advanced features, the Apple product does not offer live TV. And, considering some of the devices I just tested, and now that I’ve used most of the alternatives, I don’t understand all the fuss about the Apple product ….but that’s for another column.
While a number of serviced providers offer different kinds of video applications on their mobile phones like downloading music videos, transferring home videos or maybe getting a portion of YouTube, for me and many others, if you are going to watch TV on your phone, it should be live!
And, if you are a Blackberry addict (there’s video available on some of those devices, too), you might not know that Samsung, LG, HTC and even the venerable Palm Corporation are making devices that make pretty compelling live and on-demand TV. Those brands also make products for AT@T mobile service, unfortunately from what I hear; Ma Bell is so inconsistent in some parts of the country, that Mobile TV may look worse than those choppy early TV on a PC features.
With devices using Sprint and Verizon you get a pretty decent choice of TV stations, video features and, if you are also interested in business uses, you are getting a super high-speed way to get your email and web viewing….and live from Wall Street reports (if you can stomach them).
I particularly like the Sprint-based Samsung Instinct because, without any fanfare or learning curve, I was watching TV on the touch screen-based device. Ironically, it worked fine in an area of New England where regular terrestrial TV is hard to come by.
In addition, the Instinct, which many experts compare to the iPhone, had another feature that I thought I would never use - an instant point of interest GPS locator. So, while I got CNN talking about the takeover of Wendy’s Hamburger chain, I immediately got in the mood for semi high quality fast food.
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Richard Sherwin is a former syndicated technology columnist and TV/Radio analyst, who has also been a marketing executive with IBM, Philips, NBC and a chief advisor to several manufacturers and service providers.