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October 10, 2008

How TV can become mobile

LONDON, England – I’ve spent the last few days playing with the N96 and drawn like a midget to a lightbulb to its BBC iPlayer application. The N96 comes packing a DVB-H tuner, which means it can receive TV signals, which in turn enables it to play terrestrial TV. So far so good. Except in the UK there isn’t an form of mobile TV service right now. The UK Nokia team is doing its bit with Capsule N96 – the home-grown TV station designed specifically for the N96, but the real gap-filler has to be iPlayer.

See by making the bulk of its TV shows available to download directly to a phone (no PC involved here, just direct to the device) it suddenly opens up a world of possibility. And I reckon this is bridging a much bigger chasm than it might be given credit for. Sure, it’s not without its challenges, but come on. A whole national broadcaster’s catalogue, right there on your handset. That’s something isn’t it?

The service, and application, work well too. Downloading shows happens over a WiFi connection to ensure the best and fastest download speeds and shows are stored in the device’s gallery. And, with 16GB of storage on board, and a further 8GB available on microSD, there are few space issues to contend with. Downloading a show happens pretty quickly and the screen size makes it entirely watchable, at resolutions that don’t make you think you’re watching an old VHS tape.

But its the fact we have it at all that impresses me most. The BBC was one of the first to embrace podcasts for its radio shows and, I believe, pretty instrumental in making them popular. Once more, its at the forefront of mobile TV, being one of the first to embrace TV downloads. And I wonder what’s going to happen as a result?