LG-BH620T DVB-T Phone Gets European Release

LG-BH620T DVB-T Phone Gets European ReleaseLG has announced the soon-come launch of its new LG-BH620T, a DVB-T phone letting soap-addicts thrill to Coronation Street while they’re out on the move.

Naturally, perambulating punters can watch a lot more than the latest snooze-inducing antics from the Rovers Return on the teensy 320 x 320 pixel screen of the LG-BH620T, with the DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial) standard allowing access to a broad range of freeview digital transmissions.

Continue reading LG-BH620T DVB-T Phone Gets European Release

Miglia Introduce TV To The MAX

Miglia who are known for their TV dongles have introduced two updated models, TVMini Express and TVMax+ which are really the same as the TVMini and TVMAx but with new software.

Bye Bye Elgato EyeTV
The products used to ship with EyeTV but this has now been dropped in favour of their own software. Miglia say this is due to Elgato not supporting their real time encoding on the TVMax (i.e. EyeTV takes in a video feed, stores it and then converts it, while TVMax supports hardware encoding to a variety for formats).

Miglia Introduce TV To The MAXThe new software works with all the Miglia decoders and offers similar functionality to EyeTV.

TVMini Express
This is a standard USB 2.0 DVB-T tuner, the software now bundled is known as “The Tube”. It can play and record Freeview channels and also works with the Apple Remote.

The price has been dropped to £39.95.

The box is around the same size as a Mac Mini or AppleTV and is in the same white and aluminium sides. It has a TV tuner (with aerial and cable connectors) but also video and s-video connections so it will work with a DVD or other video source.

It connects back to a Mac using USB 2.0.

Various video formats are supported including MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and DivX. Since compression is performed inside the box using hardware it will save to disk immediately in the right format without having to go through a software compression phase.

Miglia Introduce TV To The MAXThe software also works directly with iTunes so stored video will appear on any connected AppleTVs.

Current price is £149.00.

This is the MPEG-4 variant that iPods and other devices use. Miglia are coming out with a USB 2.0 dongle that does hardware compression. This will work with Miglia software, but should also allow other developers to utilise it for their own software, so a DVD could be ripped and on-the-fly converted to H.264 for use on an iPod.

Unfortunately details on this are scarce as it hasn’t been released and only a prototype (in black rather than Miglia’s normal white) was seen.

The TVMini has always been a useful DVB-T tuner, it needs a good signal and the supplied aerial isn’t much. The new software works but as it was only briefly demo’ed it’s hard to tell how well it compares to EyeTV. The price drop is welcome though.

The TVMax+ is a new product, again only briefly demo’ed but the new software will make a huge difference as it utilises the hardware compression in the TVMAx itself, cutting down the time it takes to make an iPod or AppleTV compatible video.

The H.264 hardware dongle will be very useful when released.

EU Reding: Europe Should Standardise on DVB-H

Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media has been re-encouraging the European telco industry to pull their collective socks up and agree a standard to mobile TV.

EU Reding: Europe Should Standardise on DVB-HHer guidance to them is to settle on DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds), a European led development of the DVB-T (Television) standard that is throughout large areas of Europe.

It makes total sense for the industry to select and stick to one technical solution, as it makes life easier for everyone, especially the consumer – avoiding the VHS/Betamax Blu-Ray/HD-DVD confusion.

While commenting on the estimated global value of mobile TV being 11.4Bn Euro, she followed it with “I am disappointed about the lack of progress made so far. To fully reap the benefits of this market and to export a European model for Mobile TV as we did with GSM for mobile phones, industry and Member States must work more closely together to devise a common approach, compare technologies, look at possible legal obstacles, make spectrum available throughout Europe and choose together the best way to ensure a quick and large take-up of Mobile TV by Europeans, preferably based on a single standard.”

It is understood that she is meeting today with Telecom ministers from the European Member-states to try and get some agreement.

Despite a number of trials stretching back years, including the UK, Spain and Finland, the jury is still out on whether the public will pay anything for the privilege of watching TV on their mobiles, while on the go.

Mobile TV: Commission urges industry and Member States to develop a proactive European strategy

Elgato Ends Collaboration with Miglia

We’ve just heard from Elgato that they are terminating their relationship. Although we’ve been told that the contract ended on 7 February, it’s only just being discussed publicly now.

Elgato Ends Collaboration with MigliaUntil then, Miglia has been bundling Elgato’s TVEye software with their digital TV DVB-T/Freeview/TNT tuners.

Wanting further details, we first spoke to Miglia, who told us they could say nothing until a press release is issued tomorrow.

A call to Elgato gave us slightly more information, but they were restrained by the non-disclosure agreement between the two parties.

Elgato said that they were were saddened that the relationship had to come to an end, and that they had “tried [their] best to keep the relationship alive.”

Looking on the bright side, they said that “The OEM business is only one part of our business. The bigger part is selling our own hardware with our software, which we will continue to do.”

The official statement from Elgato is

Elgato Systems announces that it has terminated the licensing agreement for EyeTV software with Miglia Technology, Ltd. Miglia can no longer ship, sell or advertise TV Tuner solutions bundled with Elgato’s EyeTV software.

Customers using EyeTV with a Miglia TV tuner product are not affected by this change. Elgato EyeTV will continue to work with existing Miglia products. Elgato will continue to support existing Miglia/EyeTV customers with software updates and improvements.

We’re waiting to hear back from Miglia which software they will be shipping with their product in the future.


Samsung Anycall SPH-B5800 DMB TV

Samsung Anycall SPH-B5800 DMB TVFresh out of Samsung’s hyperactive phone production line in Korea is the new Anycall SPH-B5800 DMB phone.

A black, slide-out affair with a rotary controller, a large LCD screen and a phone keypad lurking underneath, the SPH-B5800 packs in a feast of functionality in an attractive package.

As you can see from the aerial sticking out of the side, the phone supports DMB for watching TV on the move, viewable on the large (2″) QVGA (240 x 320), 26k colour, TFT-LCD display.

The display can also rotate through 90 degrees for watching TV broadcasts in landscape mode, with publicity photos suggesting that the phone is able to balance on its side for viewing (so you won’t have to try and prop up against your pint glass in the pub) .

Samsung Anycall SPH-B5800 DMB TVFor music fans, there’s a built-in MP3 player with a microSD (TransFlash) port offering expansion options.

There’s also a 2 Megapixel camera onboard using a CMOS image sensor, which comes with white balance settings and can capture images up to a maximum 1,600 x 1,200 resolution.

Rounding up the feature set (or at least what we’ve managed to make sense of out of the dodgy Korean translation we’re working with here) is Bluetooth support, a handy TV out function and video recording.

Samsung Anycall SPH-B5800 DMB TVSadly, there’s no news of a UK release, with the phone currently only available on the KTF network in Korea.

Anycall (Korean)
Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB)

[From: Akihabaranews]

Sharp 911SH Mobile With TV Recording And Playback

Sharp 911SH Mobile With TV Recording And PlaybackLike a hungry child with its drooling face depositing dribble all over the cake shop window, we’re only able to gaze at the sleek lines of Sharp’s swanky new 911SH TV phone from afar as the Japanese giant has announced that it’s for their home market only.

The swivelling phone looks a beaut too, offering a built in TV tuner and a super sharp 3 inch display.

The display uses technology from Sharp’s well regarded AQUOUS LCD TVs, so comes with a brightness sensor which adjusts the brightness based on the ambient lightning.

There are also three different TV modes, with the 262k colour screen able to swivel 90 degrees to offer portrait or landscape viewing formats.

A built in Micro SD card means that users can record TV programmes and watch pre-recorded films on the move, and the phone can be programmed to record favourite shows.

Sharp 911SH Mobile With TV Recording And PlaybackSlapping in a 1 GB card would deliver a mighty 4 hours of recording, although we’re not sure how long the battery would fare when playing back videos.

Technical details are still a little vague, but the 911SH looks to come with a 2 Megapixel camera, offer video recording and Bluetooth 2.0 support and run on 3G networks.

The phone is expected to be released at the end of the week to lucky, lucky Japanese consumers, and made available in a range of seven colours.

Meanwhile, Brits looking to watch TV on the move will have to settle for the considerably less stylish Virgin Mobile Lobster 770TV phone.

[From NewLaunches.com]

Virgin Mobile Lobster 770TV: Review

Virgin Mobile Lobster 770TV: ReviewThe last 18 months have seen a growing crescendo of excitement in the content and mobile phone worlds about the possibilities of delivering TV to mobile phone. The ideas been around a lot longer than that, but it’s the smell of money that has heightened senses.

Virgin Mobile have been keen to show the pace in this area and BT Livetime).

The handsets are now in pre-production and are getting into the hands of a few people.

James Cridland, Head of New Media Strategy at Virgin Radio has had a pre-production Virgin Mobile Lobster 770TV in his hands for a while and has written up a review of it, complete with the four TV services and 49 radio stations.

Built by HTC, its guts are an Orange SPV C600 but the protrusion on its right hand side holds the DAB chippery. James reports that the headphones are better than SPV600, which the 770TV is based on. They also act as the aerial for the DAB receiver.

James goes into a lot more detail about the handset, but let’s get down to how it performs as a TV.

The content
The four TV channels he had were BBC One London, Channel 4 Shortcuts, E4, and ITV-1 (only available in London). It sounds like the programming on the commercial channels hits a few interruptions due to ‘rights.’

BBC One London is in full and free. E4 and ITV-1 generally shows a simulcast of the main channels, but at some times of the day you get a notice that the current programme is unavailable for ‘rights reasons’ – which, at the time of writing, includes all of E4’s daytime music programming, all advertising, all of GMTV, and quite a few other programmes too: it’s unusual to be able to get all four channels in full, in my experience. Channel 4 Shortcuts shows short clips of Channel 4 shows.

Using it
Starting to watch TV couldn’t be easier, just hitting the TV button, which brings up the TV Guide, which he describes as a fairly comprehensive EPG (electronic programme guide), interestingly updated over-the-air on DAB.

The quality of the service doesn’t sound amazing currently.

Clicking on a channel name opens a screen with a larger logo and a Windows Media ‘buffering’ sign, which disappears fairly quickly to be replaced with a passable picture. The framerate appears quite low – probably no more than 10 frames a second – and the picture quality does break up in fast movement; this isn’t picture quality to write home about, but conversely it is pretty good at coping with variable signal quality – on occasion, you can sometimes lose the picture but keep the sound. Watching live television in a moving taxi is an interesting experience, but works very well.

Radio service
James is significantly more impressed with this Lobster as a DAB radio, finding “the reception quality is rather better than I’ve experienced with an FM radio,” indeed, “it’s no exaggeration to say that this is the best hand-held DAB Digital Radio that I’ve ever had.”

Given his role at Virgin Radio, he’s a man who knows a thing or two about radio too.

Despite liking the other functions of the Lobster, it appears James won’t be chucking out his TV anytime soon, finding the current channels available not good enough.

I can’t see too many people sitting down for half an hour of Coronation Street on this thing; and it would seem to me that the television offering needs changing – to offer more grazing-friendly programming. Sky News or BBC News 24 would be a great addition. The absence of GMTV on the phone shows what disarray the commercial broadcasters are in – why cede peak commuting time to the BBC alone?

Clearly early days in this fledgling area.

Full details are over on James’ blog
Photo credit: James Cridland

Ofcom Should Force Sky To Open Its Platform: Opinion

Ofcom Should Force Sky To Open It's Platform: OpinionIn an ideal world, waiting near the top of the new OFCOM boss Ed Richards’ in-tray, there should be a folder marked ‘Sky Monopoly’ and on it a brightly coloured post-it with the words anti competitive clearly inscribed.

Digital Television is a standards based system with the majority of the world using a system called DVB (the Americans have something called ATSC but that’s a story for another day), the UK’s Sky TV uses the DVB standard in most respects.

Pay TV operations rely on a system of Conditional Access (CA) where channels are encrypted, viewers with a suitable viewing card can decrypt the services they subscribe to, those who don’t subscribe don’t get.

To enable the pay services to operate with the use of ‘viewing cards’ the DVB system has a standard, the standard allows for different viewing cards to co-exist and for TV services to be encrypted by more than one encryption method at a time, the so called Simulcrypt (Simultaneous encryption, get it?).

Ofcom Should Force Sky To Open It's Platform: OpinionThe area where Sky has decided not to use DVB is for its Conditional Access encryption.

Sky TV which is controlled by News Corporation, the large multinational media company with Rupert Murdoch at the helm, uses a special tailored version of Conditional Access a variant of Videoguard which is produced by a company called NDS that is in turn, majority owned by News Corporation.

Now you might be curious to know why this matters, well as the majority of UK householders who watch digital TV, watch via a Sky TV satellite ‘digibox’ and to have a channel that can be easily received via Sky TV the channel must contract with Sky TV to appear on the Sky Electronic Programme Guide, commonly referred to as the EPG.

Ofcom Should Force Sky To Open It's Platform: OpinionIf that TV service then wants to charge the subscribers to their service they have to use that special version of Videoguard CA.

So what can be done about it? Well OFCOM can and should mandate Sky TV to open up its platform to other DVB CA systems and new entrants can then offer smaller niche services and a new competitive platform to Sky should emerge.

The BBC has for some time been promising a Freeview alternative to the UK’s dominant pay TV operation Sky Digital, but with it’s struggle with the government to secure a long term above inflation licence fee settlement and its desire to start a High Definition TV service, this cause has been relegated to the back burner.

As the government ordained switchover date looms ever closer, viewers who can only receive digital TV by satellite should be able to choose a non Sky alternative even at the risk of upsetting a powerful media mogul.

446m Mobile Phones TV User By 2011? We Consider

446m Mobile Phones TV User By 2011? We ExamineWill you be one of the near-half billion (446m to be exact) people that IMS Research estimate will be watching TV on their cellular handsets around the globe by 2011?

Their latest research project a 50% year-on-year growth all of the way until 2010.

In a frankly over-optomistic tone, one of the report’s authors, Stephen Froehlich exclaimed, “Given the right conditions, mobile TV has the potential to spread from one customer to the next like few technologies before it.” We assume he either lives in the US, where text messaging didn’t grow at the speed it did in Europe, or he’s got a short memory. SMS was the ultimate viral application on mobile.

There’s been a lot of buzz about DVB-H, built up by a combination of the TV and mobile phone companies. It’s not far off the truth that the content industry are obsessed with video content on mobile phones.

Our take – All of these estimates are a pipe-dream if the mobile operators think that their subscribers are going to pay to watch TV, at the data rates that are charged by many companies, certainly those in the UK. People’s mobile bills are pretty huge already and they have a lot of other things to be spending their money on.

446m Mobile Phones TV User By 2011? We ExamineIMS Research

Nokia Trials Mobile TV With TeliaSonera Sweden

Nokia Trials Mobile TV With TeliaSonera SwedenNokia has announced a partnership with TeliaSonera Sweden to trial a complete DVB-H system, using Nokia’s Nordic know-how, their Mobile Broadcast System 3.0 and Nokia N92 mobile TV devices.

Currently being wired up by teams of studious, white-coated boffins at the Nokia facility in Kista, Stockholm, the system will be hosted and managed by the Nokia team and will allow TeliaSonera Sweden to serve up a veritable feast of mobile television.

The test system is set to debut over Gothenburg and Stockholm from early August until the end of the year.

Nokia Trials Mobile TV With TeliaSonera Sweden“Nokia is very pleased to be working so closely with TeliaSonera Sweden in this new area of DVB-H based mobile TV. We believe strongly in the capability of this technology as well as in the mobile TV service, and we are looking forward to verify the full potential of mobile TV together with TeliaSonera Sweden,” purred Jan Lindgren, Vice President, Networks, Nokia.

Anders Bruse, Senior VP, Products and Services at TeliaSonera, joined in the PR love-in, adding that the DVB-H technology trial should “give them a better understanding of their customers’ expectations.”

Nokia Trials Mobile TV With TeliaSonera SwedenAbout the technology
DVB-H lets punters on the move download high quality terrestrial digital broadcasts on their mobiles, and also offers tempting business opportunities for mobile service providers, content and broadcast companies, infrastructure and handset manufacturers.

Feedback from several mobile TV pilots has proved promising, with a trial last year in Oxford, England finding that 83% of the pilot participants were chuffed with the service provided.