Best Video Sources
Getting video on phones doesn't make headlines anymore, but the companies delivering it are getting more sophisticated and offering an amazing array of both live and stored content. Eric Schlissel, owner and CEO of Los Angeles-based GeekTek IT Services Inc. , offers his insights into the best options in the world of mobile video.
"There are really four major sources for mobile video right now," says Schlissel.
Here's how they stack up:
MobiTV is available on all major U.S. carriers and featured on more than 400 devices with video-supporting operating systems, including iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile and others. According to Schlissel, all the carrier-channel lineups include a variety of popular news, sports and entertainment brands, but can vary slightly from company to company. So make sure to check out what your carrier is offering. Typical subscription fees are $9.99 per month -- except for Sprint, which offers its basic Sprint TV product to customers with a full data plan at no extra charge. You'll also have the option of purchasing an additional 25 premium channels for $9.99 per month.
Schlissel says this is the most expensive way to go, since iTunes doesn't have a subscription-based service and you pay for each item you watch separately. However, iPhone and iPad users can rent newly released movies for $3.99. Library-category titles start at just $0.99. Bear in mind that even though you have 30 days to watch the movie after downloading it, you only have 24 hours to finish viewing it after you click "Play."
ITunes does offer some free TV episodes, and others that you can rent for $0.99 each. In this case, you have 30 days to download and 48 hours to watch. Another option? Buy them for $1.99 in standard analog format or for $2.99 in HD. Full-season purchase prices start at $24.99 per show.
Coming soon to Android, and already available to iPhone and iPad users, Hulu Plus offers access to movies and thousands of TV episodes through its mobile application with a monthly subscription cost of just $7.99. Even though this is a paid service, Schlissel cautions that some of the shows contain advertising, which may be a deal-breaker for purists who are sick of those freakin' Geico commercials.
If you've got an iPhone, iPad or a Windows Phone 7, you can already use your existing subscription to access Netflix after you've downloaded the mobile app. There have been delays in creating a Netflix app for Android-based phones as the company struggles to overcome security and content-protection issues with the platform. But according to Schlissel, they should start distributing Netflix for select Android devices later this year. Netflix subscriptions start at $7.99.
If you're looking for the mother lode of video for your phone, this may be it. This gadget pretty much lets you stuff your home theatre system in your pocket. (Make sure it doesn't get gum all over it!) With the Solo model ($179.99) or the Pro-HD version ($299.99) plugged in at home and the Player ($29.99) installed on your smartphone, Slingbox apps are compatible with all major operating systems. You can watch and control anything that's available through your cable system, including on-demand features and your DVD player.
Whatever source you choose, the experience of watching TV on your phone is -- unfortunately -- limited not only by the screen size, but also the sound and bandwidth. "Mobile video has a lot of mitigating factors you need to consider," says Schlissel. "But it's definitely moving quickly in the right direction."
Photo: Getty Images
Tim Jarvis is a freelance health, technology and entertainment writer who contributes to O, The Oprah Magazine and the men's grooming and lifestyle site Men's Life Today. He is also currently working on a book about the mysteries of quantum mechanics.
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