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Television Media Communications

Philips Launching TV on Cellular in the US 107

An anonymous reader writes "News.com is reporting that Philips plans to soon bring the TV-on-cellular chipset to the US. TV enabled phones should be hitting the stores sometime in 2006 and to ensure that they meet their goal, Philips has partnered with Crown Castle Mobile Media to help make it happen. From the article: 'The company announced a similar chipset--which consists of a TV tuner, a decoder and peripheral components--for the European market earlier in the year. Three out of the six largest handset makers are currently building phones containing the chip for trials that will likely start soon. [...] The U.S. chipset is essentially the same product. "It is a small shift in the frequency band. The rest is all the same," Kaat said.'"
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Philips Launching TV on Cellular in the US

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  • Product Placement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elronxenu ( 117773 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @06:40AM (#14245269) Homepage
    So does this mean the directors will now be instructed to zoom in more on the product (coke can, etc) since the screen is so tiny?
    • When was the last time you were able to pick out the words etc. written on products / scenery on a small screen, let alone a tiny cellphone one? Frankly, normal TV would be mostly unwatchable on a standard cellphone screen, movies certainly would. On the other hand, at least it means the end of in-program brand placement, as you'll be unable to read what the product is (the exception here being the movie `I,robot`, so stuffed full of placement that you can't miss it, especially when it's audibly spoken at e
      • Re:Detail levels (Score:5, Insightful)

        by leonmergen ( 807379 ) <(lmergen) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @08:43AM (#14245564) Homepage

        As a matter of fact, these types of mobiles with TV on them are already quite popular over here (in .nl) and I must say, for things like the news and such, it works pretty well... good sound, a good quality video stream and well, yeah, the screen might be a bit tiny but you sure as hell can see what's going on (a friend of mine owns such a mobile)...

        The only bad side about this is the cost - it's simply not worth the money (yet) to watch the news over your mobile. You can just as well call your auntie, ask what was on the news, ask her how she's doing, have a good discussion and then hangup and you'll still be off cheaper than watching the news for a few minutes...

        • Perhaps this is where the sidekick/PDA comes into it's own, they're naturally suited to this sort of application and you can get broadband internet connected to them to reduce download times somewhat (and a fixed monthly payment reduces overall charges). The only cost after that is the cost of streaming the TV show, placed on by philips (or whoever will actually be streaming the shows)
        • I don't know about there, but here in the UK it's a £10 a month flat charge for TV.... expensive for TV maybe, but still cheaper than cable :P
      • I SSH on my Blackberry...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Excellent. This will make "throwing out your tv" so much easier.
  • Tichy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spacejock ( 727523 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @06:45AM (#14245275) Homepage
    I have a portable hand-held TV from 1991, and the screen is about 2" diag. It's not big enough to see anything, and I used to get nauseous tryng to view TV on it. The screen is about the same as that on my current mobile, so unless they're planning to make these things about 10" wide it's not going to work for me.

    I'd rather get a USB HDTV decoder and run it off the laptop. Not very portable, compared to a mobile, but watchable all the same.
    • Re:Tichy (Score:2, Insightful)

      by earthstar ( 748263 )
      If that screen is so difficult to watch...what about ipod video screen?I thought people who owned it,liked it.
      • Rather, I think that they like the iPod itself coupled with how society perceives iPods and their owners. The iPod is "chic" these days, so people who buy them may like them because of the name, not because of the features and what they could do.
        • Re:Tichy (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Golias ( 176380 )
          Rather, I think that they like the iPod itself coupled with how society perceives iPods and their owners.

          Oh, for fuck's sake. Can we please let the "people buy iPods just to be trendy" meme die already? It's total bullshit, but it seems like certain people need to tell that to themselves in order to "justify" their decision not to buy one.

          So you decided an Archos (or whatever) is the right personal media gadget for your needs. Good for you. Enjoy it. There's no need to piss all over the choices other
  • mobile TV (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dnaumov ( 453672 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @06:48AM (#14245279)
    "A few years ago, many looked at TV-on-cell technology as an expensive oddity. TV service began in South Korea in 2002, but the TV signal came over the cellular network, resulting in massive phone bills. Since then, cell phone makers have decided to integrate TV tuners into handsets. Service providers still charge consumers for delivering content, but overall, it's much cheaper."

    WOW. What a silly way to work around the GREEDY GSM PROVIDERS! If 3G/EDGE traffic is expensive in your country, you shouldn't be inventing and pushing new technology, you should be pushing down the 3G/EDGE traffic prices to the same level as in different countries. I have unlimited 3G/EDGE/GPRS here for a flat fee of 10e/month. I can watch TV broadcasts over 3G. What does this new technology bring (in 2006) that I don't already have?
  • Why a TV Tuner? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vivek Jishtu ( 905067 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @06:48AM (#14245280) Homepage Journal
    Its like going a step backwards. When its possible to send Audio/Video using IP based technology what's the point of stepping backwards.
    • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @07:07AM (#14245306) Journal
      TV is inherently a broadcast medium - they're sending the one-way same signal out to millions of recipients. By contrast, voice/video over IP over cellphone-data is taking space on the radio channel for each individual recipient in two directions, even though hundreds of people may be watching the same content at the same time in the same radio cell. Makes a lot more sense to broadcast, if you can do it efficiently. From an IP perspective, it's possible to do multicast IP (though ISPs mostly don't see a business model for implementing it between carriers yet), but the scarce resource here is the radio channel.

      But the radio bandwidth choices seem odd. They've supposedly got 5 MHz across their target market (both North America and Europe), which is approximately one analog TV channel. How many programs do they plan to carry? Does using a cellphone-sized screen mean the resolution is enough lower than current US TV that they can cram a lot of channels in it, or are they only getting ~4 channels like conventional Low-Def Digital TV? If they're getting a bunch of channels of even-lower-def TV, are they broadcasting the same material everywhere, or doing some kind of cellular system that lets them (say) send the top 10 channels that the listeners in that cell want right now?

      • by hhghghghh ( 871641 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @07:20AM (#14245332)
        They're using H.264 streams (MPEG 4 part 10) at stupidly low resolution. It's broadcast, not using the same cells as the cell network, but the same sort of arrangement as over the air HDTV, if not site sharing with those broadcasters.
        • According to this press release [crowncastle.com], Crown Castle will be using Windows Media 9 aka SMPTE VC-1 as a codec with Windows Media 10 DRM. This article [dvb-h-online.org] suggests that with 5 MHz using DVB-H with 16 QAM 2/3 modulation, you should get 9.2 Mbps, enough for 18 channels of 500 kbps video, and would be receivable by devices moving as fast as 150 kph without doppler fading.
      • US ATSC DTV is based on MPEG-2, but the DVB-H systems use Windows Media 9 / VC-1 or H.264 codecs which are much more efficient for lower bitrate video streams. Also US DTV is limited in scale-down to 480 vertical lines at 30 fps, whereas DVB-H can go down to 320 x 240 pixels or even 176 x 144 pixels at frame rates of 15 fps or less.

        With those small screen sizes and low frame rates, combined with advanced video and audio codecs, you can get a useable video stream at 384kbps.
      • "TV is inherently a broadcast medium"

        Yep, and people hate that enough to pay for relatively expensive dedicated time-shifting equipment. Equipment which is more or less technically trivial to get to load its data over to a handheld device within the near future horizon. Which has the additional advantage of being cheaper _and_ more desireable than broadcast programming on a cellphone.

        The choice of bandwidth isnt the only thing that's odd. The whole business plan is odd, as is the very idea that they'll be a
    • Actually the plan is to use multicast IP (using RTP) to deliver video streams using DVB-H. See this document [dvb-h-online.org] titled "Specification for the use of Video and Audio Coding in DVB services delivered directly over IP protocols".

      The use of IP is also motivated by the need to have two-way communication for Digital Rights Management.
  • And then TiVo will announce a device which allows you to timeshift TV shows on your Phone.
    • Also, you can give people you talk to thumbs up or thumbs down ratings. After a while, your phone will decide who you talk to based on past preferences, and if you haven't called anyone in a while it'll automatically ring your favourite person.


      Of course, the third generation devices start introducing while you're waiting for the other person to pick up the phone, and by the time Google are in on the Cellphone act, they'll start analying youro conversations and playing ads ads in the background t
    • Isn't this where Taco is supposed to chime in:

      "Less storage than an Archos, no wireless, lame.

      Oh, wait."

  • by hedleyroos ( 817147 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @07:09AM (#14245310)
    Why would I watch TV on a small screen?

    The only situation I can think of is when commuting by public transport. Also, the content must be of a high quality and not just some local TV station's news. Watching sport is probably ok.

    But the screen is still way too small. I wonder if it is possible to design a system which transmits two beams of light which are invisible until they cross in the air. Then by some magical interference they create colour. If you can move the beams very rapidly (much like a normal CRT does) then you can create an image in mid-air.

    Any thoughts?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sports take a lot more bandwith when compared to news or something else that isn't under rapid movement. If the tuner is digital prepare for artifacts.

      The mid air image technique has some problems with air, air has changing refraction index due to humidity and so on. CRT monitors have a vacuum to prevent that (think so, might be filled with some other gas). Imagine if you could just pump the air out of the buss and watch your game...
      • The mid air image technique has some problems with air, air has changing refraction index due to humidity and so on.

        Hang on, that's not right. Cinemas project movies through humidity, smoke, air-con outlets and all sorts of 'media of differing refractive index' without any problems at all. The real problem with the mid air image technique suggested above is the lack of a screen on which to project the light.
    • Any thoughts?

      We used to have this shit called "radio." Looked just as good on a two inch screen as on a 25 incher.

      It had the added advantage of allowing you to keep track of the ball game while looking at that hot chick three seats down.

      Maybe if you wanna watch TV you should go home.

    • But the screen is still way too small.

      I agree. This same technology (small handheld TVs) has been around since the 80s at least and never really caught on. I think the cellphone companies are pushing this now because they need the next gimmick to sell the next generation of phones. We've now seen, in addition to plain old phone functionality, PDA functionality, Web browsing, digital cameras, and now they need more.

      I think they're wasting their time and money in this. Video-on-demand is what the people

      • I agree. This same technology (small handheld TVs) has been around since the 80s at least and never really caught on. I think the cellphone companies are pushing this now because they need the next gimmick to sell the next generation of phones. We've now seen, in addition to plain old phone functionality, PDA functionality, Web browsing, digital cameras, and now they need more.

        Yeah. When they added that "plain old phone functionality" gimmick to phones, it was the nose fo the camel. Before that, phones we
    • I wonder if it is possible to design a system which transmits two beams of light which are invisible until they cross in the air

      Neal Stephenson had a system in Snow Crash which used a laser to project an image on to glasses worn by the viewer. The glasses were just like a projection screen so the eye would have to focus very short to read them. Perhaps the glasses could incorporate a lens to help you focus long. That would have to be one hell of a lens.

      Perhaps the computer could be in your lap and project

      • Perhaps the glasses could incorporate a lens to help you focus long. That would have to be one hell of a lens.

        There are already 3D glasses. Remember Virtual Boy, or for that matter any night-vision goggles?

    • We at Slashdot demand you explain this sports thing you're talking about.
  • Looks like someone has analog nostalgia at Philips... why go backwards? While lots of companies are working on streaming video content through GPRS/3G/whatever, a TV tuner which will have problems with reception (like, in the underground?) and combined with a tiny screen... I wouldnt personally buy one of these

  • Already in the UK (Score:2, Informative)

    by pryonic ( 938155 )
    This has already been launched in the UK by a couple of telcos, Vodafone [vodafone-i.co.uk] being the first one I can name. It seems it's free for the first few months, then various packages of channels are available between £2.50 and £5 a month which isn't excessive. Not heard any glowing reviews, not nothing terrible either. I just couldn't watch TV on such a small screen...
  • Using DVB-H? (Score:5, Informative)

    by daBass ( 56811 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @07:41AM (#14245380)
    The article doesn't say it, but I would asume they are using DVB-H [wikipedia.org]. (Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld, as opposed to (T)errestrial, (S)atelite or (C)able)

    Succesful trials with the technology are being done by O2 in the UK. In Oxford to be precise.

  • i don't know about you, but whenever i have enough time to sit down and watch a TV show or even a 6 minute snippet from a TV show, i will do so using an actual television.

    any place where i'm on the go where i would need to use a cell phone to watch TV would be a place where I don't really need to be watching TV anyways.

    and don't we all watch too much TV as it is?
    • Amen!

      Lets give everyone another chance to pay less attention to what they are supposed to be doing. Of course this also allows an excuse for even less social interaction, lets just break down real communication between people even further. Then we can all lament the collapse of society even more.

      Smile and say hello to a stranger, it'll confuse the hell out of them.
      • You and the parent poster are probably rich folks who do not have to commute by public transportation many hours a day (one person I know stays 6 ho/day on the commuting bus.) I don't know in your town, but people in the bus down here are not the best conversationists.
        • If you're on the bus for 6 hours a day you really need to move.
          • That is a typical rich-person answer.
            The woman I mentined earns US$ 300 /month; she has a fully-paid-for house in a neighbouring small town.
            * Her house is at least 10x cheaper than an equivalent house anywhere near the city (meaning, she can't just sell her house and try to move);
            * her salary is not enough to eat, feed her son and pay for rent in the city;
            * there are no equivalent employment opportunities in her town;
            * she does not have enough money to go away from the country.
            Now, it does not seem that sim
            • Doesn't sound like this person is the market for this phone, anyway. Or is your hypothetical poor person going to go out and buy the latest-and-greatest cell phone with built-in TV?
              • But in two-three years, tv phones will probably be kind-of-cheap. How much does the TV capability costs? US$ five? ten?
                • This woman does not need to be watching TV on the bus. Tell her to learn to knit or some other easy task that could earn her some money.
                • Yes, the hardware will get cheaper over time, but I seriously doubt the content will get cheaper. If anything, they'll pile more and more content on and claim that it is cheaper per show, even though you'll be paying through the nose for the "unlimited/free" content, and the good stuff will cost even more.

                  Face it, if there were a market for portable TVs, we'd all have them now, and the broadcasters would be complaining about not having portable HDTV decoder boxes available.
            • Oh, so now she also has a son that in addition to working what? 10 hours a day? Commuting 6 hours a day. So she has how much time to see her child? 8 hours? Of which she is sleeping at least 7 hours, eating another 1/2 hour, showering, misc other tasks for 25 minutes... Now she has exactly 5 minutes in which to try and raise a child. Now that woman REALLY needs to either find a different job, move, or give her egg/sperm combination up for adoption.
              • She works 8am - 5pm, monday - friday, and stays with her kid only on weekends.
                Neither option you gave (find a different job, house, giving up her kid) is really an option.
        • You and the parent poster are probably rich folks who do not have to commute by public transportation many hours a day

          So, now the cell phone companies are taking a cue from the tobacco companies? Vcast costs an extra $20/month (that's $240/yr, plus tax). The phones that are vcast enabled are NOT the "free with activation" phones, either. If you're riding the bus because you can't afford any other transportation, why should you be spending an extra $20/month on cellular entertainment? Why not get a DVD pla

        • Rich? As a tech in a white box store, I make so much that I will loose my house in the next six months if I don't find something else. I was born and raised in New Mexico, the land of minimum wage for anyone without a PHD. Now in North Carolina doing better but not by a lot. I know what poor is, I owned a trailor in NM and rented for four years here before buying a house four years ago. As we said on Submarines, been there, done that!
  • by angusr ( 718699 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @08:16AM (#14245471)
    The technology that this article is presumably talking about is DVB-H - Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds. (As opposed to DVB-T - digital terrestrial, DVB-S - digital satellite or DVB-C - digital cable). DVB-H is basically a variant of DVB-T designed to be used in a "burst" mode - i.e. the hardware that the incoming DVB-H data is coming in on (which could be broadcast, or could be over IP via wireless, 3G, EDGE, GSM, etc) is powered up and a buffer is filled with enough data for a period of playback, then the reception hardware powers off while the buffer is emptied, and so on (not new for video over IP, but a fairly new idea for broadcast). It's mainly power saving. Definitely not purely for phones with tiny screens - imagine a Sony PSP, Nintendo DS or a Nokia 770 with DVB-H.

    The DVB-H project homepage is at http://www.dvb-h-online.org/ [dvb-h-online.org]

    • It also has a third FFT length intermediate between the two available for DVB-T.

      The long one (8K) has less doppler immunity and is bad for moving vehicles. The short one (2K) has great doppler resistance but burns the same bandwidth (and thus more in proportion to payload) in terminal repeats between symbols and thus is less bandwidth (and burst-mode receiver power) efficient. DVB-H adds a third, middle-sized option (4K) that splits the difference, resulting in a better tradeoff for handhelds.

      Downside: I
  • I'm not one of the militant anti-tv types that you see every once in a while, but do people really need this?
    It's been a few years since I've actually had cable tv or any sort of antenna hooked up to watch tv. There are a few shows I have on DVD, but by and large I do not really watch TV. What gets me since I've more or less stopped watching TV is how much of it most people really watch- the fact is that most of the people I know come home from work every day and watch TV until it's time for bed, and spe
    • Maybe it's a local family or regional thing but TV while being something we do watch isn't as important as described in your post. A lot of the discussions in my family or with my friends is mostly centered around politics, science and ethics/philosophy of some kind. In short, we like to talk about remaking the world I guess ^_^.
  • Now, is there anything good on the Phone?
  • Oops ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @09:05AM (#14245651)
    One might question their timing ...

    If you're the owner of one of the 80 million non-cable, non-digital TV sets in the U.S., you're running out of time: according to consumer advocates, when the government gives the OK to shut off all analog broadcasts -- possibly by January 1, 2009 ...

    Source: http://hdtv.engadget.com/entry/1234000027048954/ [engadget.com]

    They might have these widely deployed just in time for the analog broadcasts to go dark. Hey look at me, I'm watching static on my cell phone!
    • They might have these widely deployed just in time for the analog broadcasts to go dark. Hey look at me, I'm watching static on my cell phone!

      As has been mentioned, the technology being talked about is DVB-H - you can probably guess what the D stands for, I hope.

  • Darwin In Motion (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Malangali ( 932979 )
    TV on the mobile - this is an idea that will thin the herd. Pedestrian strolling down the street watching Friends re-runs on tiny cellphone screen. Traffic light flashes the big red hand, but Monica just said something funny to Chandler. Ha ha! Bam! Pity the SUV didn't notice you when you stepped off the curb, but seriously, what did you expect, the driver was watching the game on satellite.

    Seriously, have you noticed that people don't even know how to share a flight of stairs or a sidewalk when they

  • This has been around for some time...putting tv on the phone is in response to carriers demand for new revenue streams not from consumers saying they need it or, want to pay a premium to watch something on a very small screen. The pitch up here is you can watch the Hockey game from where ever you are...I'd just walk into a sports bar...Big Screen and Cold beer if I really needed to watch a game. Why would I pay a premium for a diminished viewing experience?
    • Why would I pay a premium for a diminished viewing experience?

      Because you are in college, and your parents are paying for your cellphone. Roughly two-thirds of all college students are under 21, which is the legal age for admittance to sports bars in many jurisdictions.

  • We have some publicity about this product here in Canada / Québec. This kind of product dosn't looks good, small image et not really smooth. It looks like to run at about 10fps not interlased when standard tv run at 29.97 fps interlased.
    Can you take a break of TV sometimes and get up /make some sports... it'll be something good for your ass and for our medical system!
  • Is this for analog TV in Europe? If so: they're late. The Dutch public channels will be off the air in analog format starting January 1st, 2006...
  • by Erich ( 151 )
    MediaFLO [qualcomm.com] is also being rolled out across the country. The MediaFLO distributer has Channel 55 all across the country, and can boradcast at fairly high power.

    I've actually seen a MediaFLO handset... and the TV quality actually looks really, really good. Suprisingly good. And the handset I saw had 3 hours of battery life while watching TV. Channel switching times are on par with my DirecTV.

    I think both DVB-H and MediaFLO transmit at 30fps @ QVGA. QVGA is about the same size as CIF/D1, which is very p

  • The headline is misleading. This is not "TV on cellular". This is DVB-H technology, and the whole point of DVB-H is that it's NOT over the cellular network.

    Sending content like *live* TV over cellular networks is horribly inefficient, because it's not a broadcast medium. Every data connection on a cellular network is 1-to-1 (even with 3G), so three people on the same tower watching the same live TV show would use 3x the bandwidth. Not cool, especially for something as bandwidth-intensive as high-quality vid
  • I can't believe how wrong this is on so many levels.

    It's already been said above that people will bumble around, walking into others while viewing their phones. No doubt those who drive while talking on the phone will be even more deadly, once they divert more attention to WATCHING their phones.

    But let's be (unbelievably) optimistic for a moment, and assume that people will actually be responsible enough to not get into trouble while watching their phones. What other ramifications would there be?

    • Adver
  • Oh great. That's all we need. Yet another thing to distract people while they drive.

    Several times per week on my suburban commute, I'll have to take evasive action to keep from getting creamed by some asshole driving and yapping on the phone, text messaging, playing with their GPS, radar detector or stereo, putting on lipstick or mascara, shaving, trimming nails, reading the newspaper or a magazine, eating, rubbernecking an accident on the other side of the interstate, breast feeding, kissing, fellating,

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