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Comments on: MobiTV for the Palm TX & Treo 600

MobiTV, a live internet television service for mobile devices, is now available for the Palm TX handheld and the Treo 600. The service allows you to watch live TV anywhere with a WiFi or wireless connection. More...
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What @ the LifeDrive

LiveFaith @ 12/30/2005 2:47:11 PM # Q
Strange. Is the LifeDrive not compatible? Very similar architecture to the TX.

Pat Horne; www.churchoflivingfaith.com
RE: What @ the LifeDrive
danmas0n @ 12/31/2005 1:52:24 PM # Q
We're working on the LifeDrive -- architecture is similar but firmware regrettably is not. We should have something worked out soon, but we wanted to concentrate on the TX since that's what Palm is concentrating on at the moment :)
RE: What @ the LifeDrive
dmitrygr @ 1/3/2006 3:25:38 AM # Q
@danmas0n
while you're at it, why not leave lcd hardware registers alone. I had to make warpSpeed launch a thread on launch of your app just to restore the LCD config you **** UP. Or at least leave the timing registers alone. YOU DO NOT NEED THEM FOR VIDEO DISPLAY. OH WOW....LOOK ALL OTHER APPLICATIONS MANAGE WITHOUT IT.

-----------
Software engineer at PalmPowerups.com
TH55/U + T|X2 + T|E2 + Zire 72 + Zire 31 + Visor Prism + WristPDA
RE: What @ the LifeDrive
danmas0n @ 1/3/2006 1:33:37 PM # Q
Perhaps you've never seen an application which uses the LCD Overlay library. If you have a bug to report, try reporting it to support@mobitv.com. Thanks --
RE: What @ the LifeDrive
dmitrygr @ 1/4/2006 5:29:08 PM # Q
oh i have. media application in TX does not do this. works fine

-----------
Software engineer at PalmPowerups.com
TH55/U + T|X2 + T|E2 + Zire 72 + Zire 31 + Visor Prism + WristPDA
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"Demo Version"

joad @ 12/30/2005 5:16:28 PM # Q
"There is now a demo version that is limited to one channel of commercials."

Finally they heard us..... sorta.

You download the demo (which apparently just runs their commercial), run the installer (which includes pages of legalese to agree to), and then once it finally installs and you start the program you get...

"To watch MobiTV, you muct have a valid Handmark.com account
Email:____________
Password:____________"
(and no instructions on where to get this "Handmark.com account" that seems crucial to see if their commercial will run on your device.)

Just go to Handmark.com and figure out WTF they expect you to get what you need to simply try their silly demo.
==============
UPDATE: If you push "cancel" to the prompt, and don't completely exit out of the program - THEN it offers to run in "limited mode" (aka demo) - and will initialize your data and take steps to run the demo.

Impressions of the demo: audio is understandable but "tinny," video is legible, similar in quality to a really bad digital camera but streams well.

Would I pay $120.00 a year for this... nah. Few stations they offer that I would bother watching on a real TV.

Nice to see innovation on the Palm platform coming along well. I'll probably keep the demo installed (if it runs off the card) to show it off.

But until the price radically drops (maybe $20-30/year tops) and the channel diversity increases, it's basically a gilded lily.

update to update...
joad @ 12/30/2005 5:37:23 PM # Q
Good news - seems to launch fine off the /palm/launcher directory, with no adverse effects (at least for me). Kudos, mobitv/handmark for that!

RE:
visage @ 12/30/2005 5:39:21 PM # Q
(Demo with Palm TX)

Well I figured out the Handmark part - there is no place to register an account seperately, you literally have to buy something to create one (or rather go part way through the order process, right up to the page where you are asked for a credit card number to pay for your "purchase").

But you still got farther - despite the fact that it is Wifi (Internet) they have artificially limited the service to IPs they think are in the US. If you try to access it from say, Toronto (Canada), which is only 35 miles north of the state of New York, you get an "Invalid Geography" error.

Pity for them - I would have likely signed up for the service, ironically to provide me with a "portable TV" when I visited the US for conferences.

RE:
LiveFaith @ 12/30/2005 6:01:39 PM # Q
Are you saying that this streams TV at a grainy resolution / framerate or at a tiny size on the TX? What on earth is going on ... can WiFi not handle enough B/W for 320x320 at least?

Secondly, I am amused by your difficulties in signing in for a test or a membership. One thing that has truly amazed me about e-commerce is the number of times that I actually want to make a purchase and the order entry system is unstable! What on earth are companies thinking? I can understand bugs, for nothing is perfect, but neeeeeeevaaaar when someone is trying to send you money!!! Even if my product or service was the biggest dog in town, I'm going to make sure that when someone is ready to spend money that they can do it real easy. Baffling. :-
Pat Horne; www.churchoflivingfaith.com

Update from MobiTV
danmas0n @ 12/31/2005 1:55:22 PM # Q
Hi there - I've been a lurker on TreoCentral forums for a while as we first launched our Palm product on the 650, but now that we're in PDA-land I'll try to check here as well, especially in the early going. Let me clear up a few things and offer some perspective:

-As noted, to get a "demo" that plays our commercial and shows you what channels you'd get if you registered, cancel out of the screen that asks you for your Handmark account info. We will hopefully be adding some sort of free trial after the New Year, but the point of letting you try it out is to see what kind of throughput you get in your preferred WiFi environment. The quality of the commercial isn't even super high, but if it looks good, the quality of the live feeds should be that good or better.

-IP geolocation: It's not a bug, it's a feature! To give some background, we are a mobile/wireless content aggregator (think cable company). We sign deals to distribute content, provide infrastructure for watching it, collect money, and pay content providers from the proceeds. The rights we get for distributing content are severely limited, and are very geography and transport specific; just getting content providers to agree to distribute anything over WiFi was a BIG thing. Likewise, deals signed for the US market are not valid for Canada or anywhere else. We do have content that is Canada-specific, but we only currently make it available on certain phones, we will expand it as demand indicates. But we couldn't have launched this service without being able to prove that we were limiting our content to the markets in which it is licensed. Cable companies have the same problem, but have a lot more deals in the bag than we do. It's even worse for local channels; the rights only extend about 50 miles from the tower.

So please understand, limiting based on IP address is not a great idea we had when we decided to sell TV on the TX, this is the reality of how content works for TV in general. The TX is the first WiFi device in the world (that I know of) which has the option of a real cable-style internet TV service. That includes real computers. Also, one strength of the IP geolocation system is that when we do have WiFi TV feeds available for Canadian channels, you'll see Canadian TV in Canada and American TV in the US. You can argue that you'd rather have your "home" channels even while abroad, but that's not going to happen anytime soon. We do have some channels which are licensed in multiple geographies, though, so there will be some overlap.

-The content lineup right now is tailored to news/weather/sports, which we figure is what most people want to watch anyway. But to give you an idea, the Treo currently has 30 channels, which is a reasonable basic cable package. We add new channels all the time, and you will be notified every time a new channel pops into the guide. In time, it's actually likely that WiFi will have more channels available than cell phones do.

-Video streams at 320x240, 24 frames per second. Audio is basically CD quality, although it's mono at the moment -- plug in headphones for best results! This is better than most desktop internet video streaming.

-If the price turns you off, it's hard to argue with that. But it's all about perspective on what you're getting. Basic cable costs anywhere from $20-40/month. The average person watches maybe 5 or 6 channels of that lineup. We're certainly not done adding channels to our lineup, but let's say the average person watches 4 or 5 channels of MobiTV. You can watch MobiTV on your home WiFi or anywhere else you get a signal, while you can watch cable in your house. If you're happy with the quality and the experience that MobiTV offers, is it really that bad of a deal? Or is it just that we're not used to paying for media services on our handhelds? Also, remember that we are paying the content providers on your behalf, and that's where the lion's share of the monthly fee goes. We'd love to lower our rates to expand viewership, but there's only so much we can do.

Anyway. It's exciting to have this product out there, and the more support we get for the idea itself, the better leverage we'll have to get better and cheaper content, and the more satisfying the experience will be. Also, it's worth noting that we have annual subscriptions for our 650 product at a slightly lower rate, and will probably be offering the same thing on WiFi eventually. But I would encourage you to try it and just see how much you use it and whether you like it; you can cancel any time you want and your service will last until the end of your billing period (which is one month). Cheers and Happy New Year --

RE:
joad @ 12/31/2005 2:23:23 PM # Q
I only had the commercial to go by, running on a T650. Wouldn't call it "grainy," more of an excess of "noise" in the image - similar to viewing a really old and overused VHS tape on a VCR with dirty heads. Still viewable, but much less quality than I had expected from the reviews.

Perhaps the actual TV is better quality than the commercial, but that kind of defies logic.

RE:
dominic241 @ 1/1/2006 3:29:35 AM # Q
Works fine on my T5, with wifi card

Its a sign of the Apocalypse!! Everyone run for your life!! The Next Generation Treo is going to run on...Windows Mobile!! After years of using Palm, and dissing the Pocket PC/Windows Mobile.. it finally will happen!! See the horror on January 5th,2006
RE:
LiveFaith @ 1/1/2006 10:50:32 AM # Q
danmas0n,

Thanks for the spec updates.

Pat Horne; www.churchoflivingfaith.com

RE:
visage @ 1/1/2006 10:51:13 AM # Q
Glad to see feedback and interest for the Palm community from the company. I had a feeling the IP issue was related to content producers wanting to exert regional control (ala DVD).

One question: Does the video stream adapt to varying bandwidth conditions (TX Wifi), and if so are you allowed to reveal the min/max bitrate that the service can adjust to.

If the Wifi service reaches Canada by early March (before the conference season) you almost certainly have 1 subscriber.

RE:
danmas0n @ 1/1/2006 1:57:13 PM # Q
Video and audio do adjust based on bandwidth within reason; the lowest level feeds are still a little too big for using via Bluetooth DUN, for example, everything's tuned for WiFi. Can't talk about specific bitrates, but suffice it to say they're several times higher than any other product we've released. Thanks again for your interest; March may be a little too soon for Canada, but we'll make sure we let people know. Cheers --
RE:
joad @ 1/1/2006 5:17:12 PM # Q
I appreciate the developer's interactions with us - a sign that the company is listening to the community. Very clear responses.

I had a feeling that the price was up there because the "content" providers were charging MobiTV an arm and a leg. Thanks for confirming that.

It's odd to me that the channels listed would want anything at all to pass through their content, as they already include tons of commercials already and MobiTV would probably only ADD to interest in watching their channels on "regular" TV.

The suppliers ought to license the content as though it were a commercial for their channels, rather than treating MobiTV as though Fox "News" had some value worth paying for.

If the content were commercial-free and a little higher quality, then perhaps $120 a year for access would be a doable premium. Access to Comedy Channel alone might even sway me - even WITH the annoying plugs and commercials.

RE:
a1locjaw @ 1/1/2006 10:39:12 PM # Q
Thanks for the info.
Your ad for MobiTv on the TX
shows more viewing screen
than for real. I guess you are
working on that. Good luck. I'll
be watching.

Joln

RE: MobiTV versus Slingmedia streamed to your handheld
rogerkang @ 1/2/2006 5:32:45 PM # Q
I'm currently a subscriber to MobiTV, but also recently bought the Slingbox from Slingmedia. While they don't have software yet that allows streaming to a palm handheld, I think they may be working on it. When (if) that happens, how will MobiTV be able to compete?

The quality of the tv broadcasts streamed to your computer (through the internet) is quite good with the Slingbox and the Slingmedia player. And there are NO monthly access fees. You only pay around $200 for the Slingbox and then hook it up to your home (or other) cable or satellite connection...and plug the box into your ethernet (internet) connection, too. This allows you to watch ALL your tv channels through the internet.

I really like the idea of MobiTV, but I'm just wondering why users would choose MobiTV over Slingmedia once/if the Slingplayer for the Palm comes out.

RE: Slingbox hookup
a1locjaw @ 1/2/2006 6:54:19 PM # Q
Well, for one thing, to watch TV on your computer with a Slingbox, your cable box or TV tuner is tied up... meaning no one else in the household can watch anything else at the same time that you are streaming video to your PC... not a problem if you live alone or no one watches the same TV that you are streaming from at the same time you are watching.

RE:
danmas0n @ 1/2/2006 8:23:48 PM # Q
The Slingbox is awesome, don't get me wrong (I've seen it operate but haven't bought one for myself yet, I really should). But I don't think it's necessarily apples to apples.

As people have noted, Slingbox eats your TV, and you can only connect one person to it at a time, so two people living in the same house and wanting to watch at the same time, regardless of where they are, would need two Slingboxes. Maybe that will eventually change, but Sling is really on uncertain legal ground already and if I understand correctly, one of the key points that keeps them from getting sued is that this is for personal use and not about rebroadcasting to multiple sources. MobiTV is all about rebroadcasting, and we have just started adding features that are explicitly personal. Our next client (which is on Java phones right now and is coming to the Palm later this year) does pay-per-view channels, on-demand style programming, ringtone buys, etc. which are tailored to your subscription. So we're coming at it from a different angle but I think both approaches have their merits.

Another thing is that the Slingbox uses your home internet connection, and you can't count on good upstream bandwidth. We host our service and if we run out of bandwidth, we buy more. As for Slingbox integrating with home media libraries and with PVRs, that's definitely something where MobiTV is at an inherent disadvantage. But as our content lineup expands, it matters a little less whether you're recording something or we are; does it really matter if you're getting Friends from your TiVo or from our on-demand service? Arguably, it's better to let us do it so you don't have to.

So I hope that gives you some idea of where we're headed. I love the idea of the Slingbox and it will work really well for a lot of people, but it's not a magic bullet.

RE: What about Orb?
dominic241 @ 1/3/2006 3:37:28 AM # Q
I've never actually tried there software yet, but I came across it just recently. Looks promising as I could stream all kinds of stuff to my Palm, TV shows (live and recorded),Photos, audio...etc. Like a slingbox...except without the hardware...just software. Just hope that it is truly compaitable with a Palm when it says "Stream your live TV, photos, music and videos to any Web-enabled device."...well see.

www.orb.com


Its a sign of the Apocalypse!! Everyone run for your life!! The Next Generation Treo is going to run on...Windows Mobile!! After years of using Palm, and dissing the Pocket PC/Windows Mobile.. it finally will happen!! See the horror on January 5th,2006

RE:
rogerkang @ 1/3/2006 2:33:20 PM # Q
Sling doesn't necessarily hog your home tv while it's in use. Currently, I have it connected to a cable outlet in one room and all the other tv's in my house are operating freely and independently.

If you only have one outlet in your house, then you would have a problem when someone at home wants to watch a different program at the same time you want to stream tv to your computer...

I think the way slingmedia avoids any legal trouble is that it does NOT broadcast to everyone and anyone (like mentioned above). Only one computer at a time...it's only for personal use. But for individual users, this is perfectly fine.

I'm not saying one is better than the other...heck, I use both....I'm just saying it's an option and I'm wondering what MobiTV will do to compete with people that want to use the Slingplayer *if* it comes out for the Palm OS. True, MobiTV (as a company) is in the business of broadcasting to many users (like the cable and satellite tv companies). But to the individual user, the Slingplayer/Slingbox option is a very compelling one. It *is* more expensive up front ($200 vs. $10/month), but in order to be a greater value, perhaps MobiTV should lower subscription to $5/month, etc.

Again, I'm not saying one is better than the other. The companies are different by nature (one sells a box that let's users get a similar experience to the service the other company sells). I think it'll be interesting to see what happens in the next few months/next year.

RE:
danmas0n @ 1/3/2006 3:07:56 PM # Q
That's an interesting case in point; so let's say you get a new cable box to serve your Slingbox (for cable systems where that's necessary). That's probably $6.95/mo just to rent one, right? They'll get you one way or another. The point is taken though, it's certainly compelling for people who want their content that they've already paid for, just in a different place. That's the pitch they give, and it works.

But what if you don't have cable? Or you and the wife both want to watch? Or you reason that you'll have to buy a new Slingbox next year or the year after and it's cheaper to "rent" TV for $10/mo? The monthly subscription is the real mental block, I understand that, but if you run the numbers, it's not always a slam dunk. Plus, what about the inevitable interactive services you'll want on your mobile device that your home TV knows nothing about (while watching the Weather Channel, you click to your web browser to view Doppler maps, etc.)?

It's a new service, and the channel lineup and feature set will grow. I know everybody understands that, and the point about perceived value is well taken. There really are good arguments both ways, and whatever works for you is what you'll do. Interestingly, Sling just announced mobile device support, but wait for it...it's for Windows Mobile only. So for now you may be stuck with us :)

RE:
a1locjaw @ 1/3/2006 7:41:08 PM # Q
Dan, will your company be working on the full screen use of the T (either portrait or landscape)? The picture of the TX running MobiTV is not really accurate (I have only the demo channel).. but the picture shows a use of the full 320 x 480 screen, but in the demo I downloaded, it's basically 320 wide by 220? high.. the bottom of the screen is taken up by the "silkscreen" writing area, and that can't be retracted on your app.

Also, I didn't see any way to configure a proxy setting in your app.

I agree with you, though, it's all about the content.... up to date news from several sources, late-breaking events I believe will power that market, with some entertainment content thrown in.

Anyway, good luck and are you in Vegas this week with the company?

RE:
Altema @ 1/3/2006 9:26:06 PM # Q
Dan, since you are lurking around (still, I hope), I had a question. Your company offered a demo through Cingular last year. I almost jumped at it, but decided to wait until I actually had the time to try it out on my Siemens S66 (soon to be the UMTS SXG75). When that time came a few weeks later, there was no longer a demo offered for Java phones, and my phone is not listed on the Cingular website anymore despite having better specs than some of their other low bandwidth phones listed as being compatible. I'd like to try a demo, or even purchase a month to see how it goes. How can that be done?

Paul

RE:
danmas0n @ 1/5/2006 11:27:54 AM # Q
I won't be in Vegas this week, but a number of us will be; I'm still pondering grabbing a flight tomorrow just to wade into the madness for a bit.

Landscape/fullscreen mode is something we decided not to support for the first rev just because we're using the LCD Overlay for fast display of the video, and it doesn't operate in landscape mode, nor bigger than 320x320 because it was written for the Treo. We can render everything ourselves but not without some performance penalty, we just have to look at it a little more once we determine how much people want it. Also, all TV video (non HD) is 4:3 aspect, so the best you can do in portrait mode is 320x240, which is what we're doing. The picture at the top of the story has now been corrected to show how things actually look on screen, sorry for the confusion. Also, landscape mode requires a totally different UI and potentially different video feeds, which we are working on, so the best solution to get something out there quickly was disabling landscape entirely.

We don't allow you to configure proxies both because most proxies won't actually pass the volume of traffic we use and because there's no cached data which you will ever want to see again. We use SSL ports only, so as long as your router passes port 443, you should never have a problem connecting to the service without a proxy.

As for the S66, to my knowledge we don't support any Siemens phones, so I'm not sure whether the demo would have worked anyway. If it's a discontinued phone, it's unlikely we would add new support for it; my guess is that you're out of luck. If you can get into Cingular's vending machine, though, and it appears available for purchase, you can always buy it as you've suggested. But this isn't really my focus so you might want to e-mail our support staff for the official answer. Thanks --

RE: S66
Altema @ 1/9/2006 3:05:57 PM # Q
I was able to get to the Cingular links, only to get a message saying the device does not support MoviTV. Oh well :(
I know from a technical standpoint it meets all the requirements (I'm a telecommunications engineer), but is not on Cingular's list. IMHO they dropped them because they are too easily customized and you can get pretty much anything you want without going to the Cingular Media Mall. Too bad, best phone I've ever had. Guess I'll have to stick with my own ripped movies for now on the expansion card.

I'll revisit MobiTV when I get the UMTS SXG75 video phone.

RE:
Altema @ 1/9/2006 4:58:33 PM # Q
Found some interesting info... the S66 had MobiTV available when it was released from Cingular: "Siemens MediaNet is standard with the phone, which includes links to CNN, Yahoo News, AP, and MobiTV for a $9.99-per-month subscription fee".

Guess this confirms the phone supports it, but Cingular does not support the phone. And to think that my son's crummy V180 IS supported... argh!

MobiTV. Like it but...
RichyT @ 2/13/2006 8:59:39 PM # Q
I just recently got a Palm TX and was browsing around when I ran across MobiTV. Tried the demo (note: if you put in a made up account, you can't remove it to get demo mode and the auth server keeps complaining). Was a little intrigued then today decided that "well, what's 9.99 anyway?" and plonked down a month's subscription.

Have to say, I'm generally impressed. Not sure if I'll go for a second month yet though. The line-up is just a little too narrow in range. A music channel (A real music channel, not MTV) would probably tip the balance. Comedy Central would have me signed up for life :D

Since we have a developer on here, I have a question. When I downloaded the demo app, the filename ended in 31. The email I received with the link to the software was MobiInst_PalmWiFi29_Handmark.prc so I left the other version installed. Is 31 the latest? How do we find out about updates?

That leads me on to another issue. The website is very sparse. I'd really like to see news, coming attractions etc maybe even some forums. I think this is really something that you could build some community around.

Landscape mode? As soon as possible please.

Where's the channel schedules? Really.

No QVC (and suchlike channels?) I would have thought they'd have been queueing up for people to disperse their content.

PLEASE don't go tiered. If you have to start charging for extra channels, make it on an a-la-carte basis. Having to buy a whole bunch of channels just to get one is why we ended up booting out satellite.

Some audio-only channels might be nice.

Proxy servers may not be able to handle the bandwidth (I'm not convinced) but the option would be nice. At least allow us to specify the server IP so we can do SSH tunneling if needs be. Please also consider allowing other ports than 443

The volume control is not fine-grained enough.

Subtitles would be *real* nice. Headphones in meetings are a giveaway.

Some other things I want to ask but won't until I've looked into some stuff.

For a "get it for nothing" channel, how about playing public domain stuff (it's a wonderful like and that kind of thing). Or is MobiTV totally against providing its own content?

Rich

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