Do you watch mobile TV on your cellphone?

Do you watch mobile TV on your cellphone?

Summary: As a person who commutes by train every day to and from the office and who also spends a fair amount of time on the road for business, I often use my mobile devices for entertainment on the go. I read the rumors of AT&T's MediaFLO service on The Boy Genius Report and wanted to post a few of my thoughts on these types of mobile TV services.


Do you watch mobile TV on your cellphone?As a person who commutes by train every day to and from the office and who also spends a fair amount of time on the road for business, I often use my mobile devices for entertainment on the go. I read the rumors of AT&T's MediaFLO service on The Boy Genius Report and wanted to post a few of my thoughts on these types of mobile TV services.

MediaFLO is a mobile TV technology backed by Qualcommm that delivers limited channels to compatible devices. It is a signal sent over the airwaves that is different than the wireless data network, however you still need wireless data service for managing your subscription and working with the service. Verizon Wireless also has a competing mobile TV service called V-Cast that also uses this same type of technology. Sprint's TV service is provided over a wireless data network and does not use a dedicated streaming content frequency. These services all require a separate subscription that is added to your wireless phone bill with prices from US$13 to US$30 per month.

Other parts of the world use a more standard DVB-H format for streaming TV content and according to a rather large satellite was just launched over the United States that will provide DVB-(S)H signals over the entire country in 2009. Look for devices with DVB-(S)H recievers being announced at CES, such as the Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium. I think this type of service works well for ultra portable devices.

The advantage of these types of services and the technology is that there is really no buffering of video content and streaming is quite fluid. However, there are limited selections on the content that is provided and you need to watch what is on at the time you decide to view the content.

I have no plans to subscribe to any of the current services for a couple of reasons (limited channel selection and subscription fee) and I'll have to take another look at the DVB-(S)H technology next year. When I am on the airplane or in a hotel (and sometimes on my commute) I watch video content. However, that content is either stored locally on my drives or streamed via a WiFi or cellular data connection through my awesome Slingbox Classic connected to my home system. This way I can watch any channel I desire, including my stored DVR content, when I want to without any additional subscription fee. There is an initial charge for the Slingbox and SlingPlayer for mobile devices, but after that it is all part of my data plan.

There can be buffering issues if you are in an area where the wireless signal is limited and I suppose if you really need to watch TV then one of these subscription services may be the answer. I am not that hooked to TV to need to pay another monthly fee though and would be interested in seeing how many people really watch TV on a small phone display. Another great thing about the Slingbox and SlingPlayer software is that I can watch content on my UMPC or MacBook Pro rather than on a phone's small display.

I would be interested in hearing what people think of the mobile TV solutions here in the U.S. and throughout the world. Is it worth the monthly fee? Do you think we should interact a bit more with people when out and about, rather than staring at our phone and watching more TV than we already do?

Topics: Wi-Fi, Hardware, Mobility, Networking

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  • Mobile TV on cellphones

    Mobitv has a solution for Windows Mobile. I use it for my XV6700 phone (Verizon Wireless). It is a pocket pc and the service works very well. Its $9.99 per month, thats with about 30 channels.

    Verizon has their own service of course, but its a good deal more expensive.

  • Answer: HELL NO!!!

    Why in the world would I want to watch TV in a 1-2 inch screen??

    To make things worst, I have to pay a fee to watch micro-tv ads.
    • Me too

      I don't watch much TV on my big screen TV. Why would I bother on a Cellphone. That's just pure stupidity!
  • RE: Do you watch mobile TV on your cellphone?

    People that watch TV on their phones are sad. I have a DVR and I rather watch it on my 60" HDTV. Some may say it is for the news but I find it better to get that in text form or web form on the subjects that matter to me instead of watching the whole thing for bits and pieces.

    I work in a high school district and I have seen kids watch their cartoons and soap opera's on their little phones. How sad is that. Get a life people.
  • RE: Do you watch mobile TV on your cellphone?

    Wow, amazing that you can be both arrogant and ignorant at the same time.

    Whether you like to admit or not, mobile, personalized content on demand is a large part of the future of media. The notion of *always* plunking down in front of a big set in your house to watch TV or movies is only part of the equation. Time-shifting has already affected the nature of media and advertising, place-shifting is only going to push that further.

    Today's youth understand the power and convenience of distributed communications - from simple text messaging (which 2-3 years ago was NOTHING), to personalized portable media - both audio and visual. The iPod started the ball rolling, but there's still a lot of innovation and adoption to go. Right now mobile media is mostly a convenience for the young and road warriors, but as services and content improve, businesses and society in general will continue to adopt the technology and integrate it into revenue-generating, productivity increasing activities.

    Congrats on the DVR and HDTV...must be really great to be so bleeding edge. I bet they really brighten up the cave.
    • Arrogant and ignorant indeed ...

      I don't think the previous responder said anything directly against mobile, personalized content. He just observed that today's cellphone platforms are immature and expensive, and that he feels people are shortchanging themselves by making compromises on screen size and video quality. I have to agree.

      I am a road warrior, and I've been using "portable media" for years. Up until Christmas my device of choice was a personal 7" DVD player combined with my Philips HDD/DVD/DVR unit at home. It records my favorite shows to HDD, which I burn to DVD and watch at my convenience. I use rewriteable discs and recycle them every so often. My wife does the same with her soap operas that she watches on her lunch break.

      Christmas I got an iPod Touch, and the DVD player has gone into the basement. I spent a couple of days fooling with a Windows Media Center setup, and now my shows get recorded, converted and downloaded to my iPod whenever I'm home. The screen is only half the size of my DVD player, but it is clear, bright, and the battery lasts 4 times as long. It is light enough to hold close to watch without fatigue.

      My approach requires just a little bit of planning, which 90% of the population is unable or unwilling to do. So for them, they are consigned to spending extra money on monthly subscriptions for poor services.

      Platforms like the iPod Touch with wifi still have a lot of potential in this area, but Apple has intentionally crippled it in favor of their iTunes locked-in service. So maybe somebody will introduce a similar open-standard product in the future that will allow us to use the existing infrastructure (web, wifi hotspots) and our own resources (WMC) or paid services (Netflix, Amazon, etc.) to access content. I'm tired of the cellphone companies and their anti-competitive tactics and rapacious fees for poor service.
      terry flores
  • I have VZW

    When I upgraded my phone last year to the Samsung SCH-A990, I tested the V-Cast service -- not for direct TV broadcasts, but on-demand small video clips -- and I used it less than 10 times.

    In loud locations, I couldn't hear the audio without moving the phone so close to my face I was practically eating it. Video was grainy or choppy, and I often got a lag of half a second to a full second between audio and video.

    I canceled the V-Cast service and avoided an extra $15 - $20 a month. Perhaps I'm old school, but I still use my phone primarily as *gasp* a phone. Though the flip-screen and 3.2 Megapixel camera sure do come in handy when I need a fast picture of something.
  • RE: Do you watch mobile TV on your cellphone?

    No as I wouldn't have time to watch it. But if I was in a metro area like NYC (as I will be next week :) ) I could see it being very useful while waiting for the next train. Stupid secaucus junctions and their hour waits for the next train. I used to have vcast on my phone and I watched it quite a bit during the holidays while waiting in line but that was the only time I used it so I cancelled the service. Basically if you are waiting around for a while I could see it being useful, otherwise no.
    Loverock Davidson
  • RE: Do you watch mobile TV on your cellphone?

    I use AT&T have have watched their pre-selected clips when I'm waiting for someone. I have never tried their live TV options since I'm not interested in paying another fee to watch TV (I already send DirecTV over $100/month). Besides, the display is simply too small to enjoy. Perhaps, if the service is free, I would use it more. A joint deal between my home television provider and the cell provider would be ideal.
  • RE: Do you watch mobile TV on your cellphone?

    I tried it for 90 days, it was overpriced and I did not enjoy the small screen format. If mobile TV were free, maybe I would use it if there were no other alternatives, but I don't think it is a good use of my resources to pay for something I do not enjoy. Mobile TV on a cell phone screen form factor is not very compelling.
  • Why use TV when Internet's for free?

    Come on, what's that hype in mobile TV?
    There is plenty of platforms you can use over internet or cellphone EDGE etc. that are far better (eg
  • I do not watch mobile TV on my cellphone.

    Why would I want to view TV on my cell phone? People have far more car accidents since cells phone became common. Is no one but me worried that drivers may try to watch their favorite shows while driving?

  • Strictly dependant on content

    Most of us are willing to pay a premium for convenience and fulfillment of our direct needs. I have also tested most, if not all, available technology for carrying video content on the go. Most of it, however, involves a lot of effort between recording it, storing, and transferring to a mobile device. Slingbox is a great option as well, but it has its limitations. The convenience factor will be there once this service is rolled out, the question is Will the content be worth the subscription fee? We'll wait and find out.
  • No, I use my cell phone as a cell phone.

  • RE: Do you watch mobile TV on your cellphone?

    The slingbox is a well established standard of
    placeshifting. It also has network effects, as other
    software firms are establishing software for it.

    Example: Slingplayer Mobile costs $30. Boo....

    But mReplay Mobi, which allows you to watch, control,
    record, edit and share your Slingbox in a mobile
    device... is free.

    Signup at and then download this
    private beta install on your mobile phone:

    Other software for the Slingbox is available and this
    should make you want to purchase a Slingbox over a
    Hava... just in terms of software availability.