Jumat, 16 Mei 2008

If being away from your television leaves you nervous about missing the latest wisdom from Anderson Cooper or SpongeBob SquarePants, AT&T has some reassuring news for you. Its AT&T Mobile TV will provide round-the-clock access to popular TV fare on your cell phone.

Not just any cell phone, of course. In conjunction with its Mobile TV announcement, AT&T also introduced two new handsets optimized for the service, the LG Vu and the Samsung Access.

The 3G Vu, which weighs 3.16 ounces, provides an MP3 player, a two-megapixel camera, and Bluetooth, in addition to its three-inch, 240x400-pixel display. Its talk time is rated at up to three hours, the same length of time youll be able to watch TV. The Vu costs $299.99 with a two-year service agreement (after a $100 mail-in rebate).

The Samsung Access 3G has a 1.3-megapixel camera, an MP3 player, and a three-inch, 240x320-pixel display. It also features stereo Bluetooth, external speakers, and an internal antenna. It weighs in at about 3.5 ounces and talk time is up to four hours. The Access costs $199.99 with a two-year service agreement (after a $100 mail-in rebate).


Mobile TV is not for everyone, at least not yet. Its available in almost 60 cities, from Albuquerque to Wichita, and AT&T promises more cities are being added regularly. The Mobile TV Plus service costs $30 per month and the Mobile TV Basic plan is $15 per month. Plus offers unlimited mobile Web browsing and data usage, while Basic offers access to 10 popular channels.

Mobile TV runs on a multicast network run by MediaFLO USA, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, so television usage does not use cell-phone minutes or eat up data minutes. MediaFlo also works with Verizon Wireless on its V CAST Mobile TV service, which rolled out first in March 2007 and now reaches more than 50 U.S. market areas on four different phones.

Gina Lombardi, MediaFLO president, told us the company built its own dedicated nationwide multicast network to deliver a "crisp, clear and stable TV-viewing experience. Since we leverage our own dedicated broadcast network, there is no buffering or downloading, and channel change time is approximately two seconds. In addition, the FLO TV service is on a different network than what your wireless carrier uses for talk time."


To sweeten the deal with AT&T, the service will feature a two-month preview of CNCRT, a concert channel that will provide 24-hour access to about 30 recorded concerts from artists including Avril Lavigne, Sheryl Crow, and Rage Against the Machine.

"Consumers today want to watch premium, full-length content whenever and wherever they want, which poses a challenge for many mobile-video services on the market today," Lombardi said. "MediaFLO USAs relationships with industry-leading brands such as CBS, ESPN, FOX, MTV, NBC and Nickelodeon give FLO TV viewers the content they crave with top-rated prime-time TV shows, news and sports."

More than 150 programs will be available on the new service through the CV-Video and Mobile TV services. CV-Video allows viewers to choose prerecorded programming such as news stories, weather forecasts, and movie trailers; Mobile TV offers real-time programming.


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