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Appeared on: Thursday, March 30, 2006

1. Mobitv

Last week I was on a commuter train to NYC sitting next to a guy with a Blackberry and a cell phone – going between his devices most of the trip.  He saw me pull out the Treo and get my email, surf the web, play a game, etc.  He said:  “If only you could watch TV on that thing – you wouldn’t need anything else.  Well….he might be right.  Now, you can watch TV on your Treo – or any one of a number of phones/smartphones or PDA’s.  MobiTV could be that “killer app” we have been waiting for. Read on to see if it is a “must have”.

MobtiTV logo I use my Treo for just about everything.  I am an email and a news lover – so I am often using my data service over Sprint’s network.  One thing I was missing was “streaming” content for the Treo 650.  That brings us to this new application  - MobiTV.
About MobiTV: (from the MobiTV website)
MobiTV, Inc. (formerly known as Idetic, Inc.) is the first global mobile television and radio service provider targeted at reaching the 2 billion mobile phone users worldwide. The MobiTV® service is available in the US through Sprint, Cingular and several regional carriers; in the United Kingdom through 3 and Orange UK; and is now available to Canadian customers through Bell Canada, Rogers and TELUS Mobility. The Emmy® Award winning service now reaches more than half a million subscribers and offers many popular TV channels from content providers such as MSNBC, ABC News Now, CNN, Fox News, Fox Sports, ESPN 3GTV, MLB, NBC Mobile, CNBC, CSPAN, The Discovery Channel, TLC, The Weather Channel and others that deliver cartoons, music videos and comedy. MobiTV also has a full line up of geographically specific channels. Founded in 1999, MobiTV is a privately-held company headquartered in Emeryville, CA. For more information on the company, its products or technology, please visit www.mobitv.com.

Purchase and Installation:
MobiTV can be ordered from many mobile providers – sometimes in a watered down form.  SprintTV seems to use the MobiTV engine, but offers fewer channels.  The full version of MobiTV can be found on the Handmark website – www.handmark.com.  The cost is a $9.99 monthly subscription.  Once the software is downloaded and the registration code (provided after signing up) is input – TV on your Treo is just moments away..

Ease of use:
This is incredibly easy and intuitive to use.  Simply click the “Guide” button in the middle of the screen and the channel lineup is displayed before you.  On the Treo 650 version – there were 50 channels to choose from.  News, Sports, Weather, Music Videos and more.  MobiTV supports the five way navigator of the Treo flawlessly – just move to the channel you want, push the centre button and then wait for the stream to load.

Now, let’s be realistic – watching MobiTv is watching TV on a 2.5 inch screen.  Since I was using Sprint’s regular Data service (not EDVO or 3G or EDGE) the frame rate was, well…what you might expect.  It was choppy at times.  However, it was still watchable.  It was very easy to switch between shows and check on the latest news, sports and whatever else you might be interested in watching.

I am a “visual” person – I like watching a news video or catching up on ESPN by “watching” instead of “reading.”  If this sounds like you, you will just love this program.  The amount of information available is amazing.  For this first time, I found myself glued to my Treo for close to an hour as I watched the ESPN highlights, caught part of a horror film, a few music videos and then I caught up on the news of the day on MSNBC.  This is the App you will turn to first to impress the person next to you on the train or plane.  The frame rate is not great – but it is still passable.  It is easy to use, fun to watch and incredibly cool.  The big question you need to ask yourself is whether you will use it enough to justify the $9.99 a month surcharge.  $120 a year to have TV on your phone might be a little over the sweet spot in your budget.

Overall Grade:  A
Pros:  Easy to use, lots of content, very cool
Cons:  Might be a bit too expensive

Go to www.mobitv.com or www.handmark.com to order

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