Hands-on in Las Vegas with the Motorola Backflip, Lenovo Lephone, Samsung TV and projector phones, Palm Pre Plus, new LG phones, Windows Mobile 6.5.3, Google Nexus One and more.
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At an early press preview, Samsung was showing a demo of the new mobile version of ATSC, the technology used by local TV stations to broadcast standard digital TV into homes over the air.
The demo phone is a specially-modified version of the Samsung Moment. They've taken the camera out to make room for the TV chip, and the antenna is practically bolted on. When not in use, the antenna unscrews and goes into a lanyard holder that dangles from the side like a pen on a string. This special Moment isn't intended for sale to the general public. Rather, it's a small batch of just 300 units that will be used for a closed market trail in the Washington, DC / Baltimore area this quarter. When the technology comes to market for the public, new models will be designed, with cameras and more elegant antennas.
The demo had some glitches, but it wasn't running on a full-scale live network, so it wasn't a great indicator of how it will perform in the real world. When video came up, the quality did look quite nice (the Moment's nice OLED screen certainly didn't hurt.) The technology is designed for wide-screen content (16:9 aspect ratio) so, while's it's not true HD resolution, you'll see the same wide image as you would on an HDTV; no cut-off sides.
When it eventually comes to market, it's expected that some content - such as local channels - will be free. National channels, rebroadcast by local stations, may carry a fee to view.
The technology also supports interactivity. For example, when watching American Idol on your TV phone, you could cast a vote for your favorite singer simply by touching their name on the screen. The technology also supports web links, so that touching an ad might take you to the retailer's mobile web site, for example. Samsung and Sprint plan to test interactivity in the trial.
The trial in DC / Baltimore will involve seven DC stations and one Baltimore station, plus some national channels.
One other tidbit we learned: local stations that are currently on VHF channels 6 and below won't work with mobile TV. Those frequencies are so low that it would require even larger antennas on the phones. Therefore those stations will have to partner with another station that has a license to broadcast at a higher frequency. Fortunately, most such stations already have relationships with suitable sister stations. For example, in Las Vegas, the local NBC station (channel 3) can broadcast on a sub-channel of the local Telemundo station (channel 40,) since they are owned by the same parent company.
Here's a video demo of the DTV function in action:
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1) What will be the release version of webOS for Verizon Wireless?
2) Will virtual keyboards (portrait and landscape) be included with the Pre and Pixi Plus (despite the webOS version when released)?
2. There was no mention of a virtual keyboard but you can always jailbreak and install the home brew version.
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