Samsung Spring Preview
The most hyped technology at 3GSM this year was definitely mobile TV. Specifically, the new dedicated broadcast technologies like DVB-H and DMB that facilitate affordable live TV instead of just the prerecorded clips that are typically offered on today's 3G networks.
As a Korean company, Samsung has been heavily involved in the launch of mobile TV service in Korea using DMB - Korea's home-grown TV technology. At CES, they were showing off the B4100, their latest flagship DMB phone for Korea. The B4100 is a very sexy little clamshell phone with a display that rotates to landscape mode for TV viewing.
Samsung has also been pushing to get DMB adopted in Europe and other parts of the world. To that end, they've developed a GSM version of the B4100, called the SGH-P900.
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Although Samsung would love to see DMB adopted in Europe, DVB-H is the frontrunner mobile live TV technology in that region, thanks to heavy backing from Nokia. Therefore Samsung is hedging its bets by also offering a DVB-H version of the same phone: the SGH-P910.
Both phones have an impressive QVGA display.
The interface for mobile TV is no more complicated than it needs to be - there's a list of channels to choose from and that's about it.
Hands-on with the Samsung P900 and P910 at 3GSM, the video quality varied considerably depending on the phone unit and channel we tried. There were impressive examples of video quality for both technologies. It was all prototype gear though, and transmission quality seemed to vary by the hour, so unfortunately it didn't seem like a fair occasion to judge video quality.
DMB doesn't seem to have any traction in the U.S., but Nokia and Crown Castle are pushing hard to launch DVB-H in the U.S. with a major carrier, although they've already suffered two defeats with the news that both Verizon and Sprint are planning to use other technologies for live TV. It looks like we'll only see DVB-H here if either Cingular or T-Mobile sign up for Nokia's new network.