CES 2007 + iPhone
Verizon Wireless Nokia
Jan 13, 2007, 3:26 AM by Eric Lin, Eric Zeman, & Rich Brome
Phone Scoop reports from CES 2007 in Las Vegas, plus the Apple iPhone. New phones from Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, LG and UTStarcom. Plus videos of NFC, Mobile TV and Video Sharing in action.
Only days before the holiday break, Qualcomm let it slip that MediaFLO would launch early this year, raising expectations that Qualcomm and Verizon would announce commercial service here at CES, since Verizon is Qualcomm's only confirmed partner as of yet. Today the two companies showed off MediaFLO, which Verizon will launch as VCAST TV this quarter.
Unlike Verizon's current video offering, VCAST TV does not stream video over the cellular network. Instead you tune into a channel that is being broadcast over a completely separate network, similar to how you get local TV stations over the air. MediaFLO isn't all that different than over-the-air digital TV that stations across the US are rolling out. The first difference is that it's broadcast in QVGA, which is the size of the VCAST TV phones' screens.
The broadcast quality is impressive. The video is sharp and perfectly smooth. The sound is excellent (it's encoded in AAC+). And changing channels is nearly instantaneous. It really does mimic the experience of home digital TV.
The second difference is the programming. Verizon plans to launch its service with 8 channels including CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, MTV and Comedy Central, as well as a few other stations. (Although Verizon only has concrete deals with CBS and Fox so far; negotiations with other companies are still in progress.) During prime time most of these stations will show the same thing as their home TV counterparts, including the same commercials. However at other times - like the middle of the day - they will be showing other programming and re-running prime time favorites, instead of the usual talk or game shows.
Although the broadcast won't be using the same exact live feed as your living room TV at all hours, Verizon talked up the fact that it could be used for live breaking news and live-action events, including sports. Verizon also hopes to offer some sort of local programming by the end of the year, though they haven't figured out what just yet. At first only generic east- and west-coast network feeds will be available.
Because VCAST TV is a live TV network and not on-demand, you have to watch it like in the pre-TiVo, pre-set top box days and catch your show when it is on (though it might be repeated). To help you along, you can subscribe to a show on Verizon's web site and they will text you whenever one of your shows is starting.
There are still many unanswered questions about VCAST TV. While Verizon said it would launch this quarter, we don't know exactly when. Qualcomm said the network will be available in 20-30 cities this quarter, but today Verizon said it will be available in most major cities. Verizon is also still working out the cost of the service as well as the cost of the handsets. The service will launch on two phones, the LG VX9400 and the Samsung U620. Both have full VCAST features in addition to TV.
(A Verizon executive referred to the U620 as the "Mobi" during a presentation, but we were later told there was a good chance Mobi would not be the final name.)
The U620 looks like a typical Samsung slider, although it looks and feels more like the rounded models from last year as opposed to the more recent slim, angular models. Because it is a simple slider, you have to turn the phone on its side to watch TV full screen. When held this way the antenna extends straight up, but if held as you would normally hold the phone, the antenna comes out of the side.
Both phones have extending antennas for MediaFLO reception. We tried watching TV with the antennas down and had no problem, so we asked around and learned that the antenna helps most when changing channels or when reception is very weak. The LG's antenna is easily twice as long as the Samsung's.
The LG VX-9400 looks like a wide, slim candybar style phone, only with no visible numeric keypad. The screen rotates 90 degrees to reveal the keypad and of course to set the screen up for watching TV. At least on this model only the numeric keys are under the screen. On previous prototypes soft keys or send/end keys were under the screen as well. Now all navigation keys - including the TV key - are in a nice cluster at the bottom of phone, where they are always accessible.
Because you need to use the screen in landscape mode for a number of things other than watching TV, (like dialing a call, for instance,) LG has integrated a number of nice interface touches around the rotation of the screen. For instance the camera viewfinder is normally letterboxed when the screen is in portrait mode, but if you flip the screen up, the viewfinder automatically goes full screen.
You can watch a video of the LG VX9400 and VCAST TV here:
A video review of AT&T's newest 3G phones, two ultra-thin Samsungs with all the latest features.
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Phone Scoop takes an in-depth look at Apple's iPhone. Is it the Swiss Army knife of cell phones that Steve Jobs promised?
Our in-depth review of Sprint's first CDMA / iDEN hybrid phone, the ic402 Blend, along with its brother Buzz. NEW: Video Tour added
Our video review of the Samsung U740, Verizon's other messaging feature phone.
I wonder about the iPhone...
What's the point of live video sharing?
hs anyone heard of a replacement for the Sammy a990
Where is 3G???
Cingular does not offer a wireless Air Card for Macs. If this phone was 3G it would be a great option for thethering to use as a modem for a laptop.
Even so - if the phone is so interet capable, why make it for the very slow Edge network?
I am not a buyer until it is 3G capable.
It is probably best to wait until Apple works the bugs out anyway. The first iPods had quality issues.
apple said they would launch the iphone in europe in q4. all the carriers who are scrambling for the iphone have 3g hsdpa. cingular has hsdpa. i'm willing to be that in decembe...
Is there a better phone?
I just watched the presentation of the iPhone...that phone is amazing too btw. Apple really over did themselves this time. I have been reading on here for about the past hour trying to catch up with what NEW phones th
Question on the ultra phones
Where's the Sprint?!
as far as voice dia...
does anyone have info on a soon to be released samsung?
SPHM510BKS for blue and also SPHM510RKS for red in my system, and I was wondering if anyone had any pictures or specs about this upcoming phone.
I Dont Understand
Do you have any idea the cost involved with using retina or fingerprint scanners for security purpo...
Does anyone know if the battery is removable like a regular cell phone or did they use the same style from the iPod where you would have to pay Apple to change the battery for you?
CRAP CRAP AND MORE CRAP!
I've seen and heard some news about it; it's EXTREMELY disappointing that LG's releasing the "BAR TYPE" Shine for US and regular slider type for Europe. I was definitely gonna get it if they were releasing the same version of European one, but I guess not...
I seriously need to see the actual model though.
Question about N76
Both of their showings at CES seem a little disappointing.
CES is not primarily a phone show. Some years those companies make no new phones announcements at all.
3GSM and CTIA are the big phone-focused s...
Why waste your marketing attempts and end up getting lost in the flood of HDT...
NOTHING ON WIMAX???
It's also pretty far away from wide deployment... at least with Sprint. There aren't any interesting devices you can hold yet. There MIGHT be at CTIA, and if so of course we'll cover tho...
How do you dial???
There are a lot of sites with pictures of it, but not any videos.
What was the sound quality like?
I don't understand why LG only put 1 speaker
on the back of the phone.
At least the VX8100/8300 has stereo speakers.