As Treos (and competing net-connected mobile devices) mature into do-everything machines, as they grow more powerful, get more memory, faster CPUs, higher resolution screens, (although the current top-of-the-line PalmOS Treo, the 700p, has exactly the same screen size and resolution as the two and a half year old 650).. as they run on faster networks, and, as I pointed out in my review of Seidio's new "Ultra Extended" battery, the more power you have in your hand, the more you're gonna want to exploit it, and why not? You've got it, so use it.
While I'm of the opinion that these phones have not yet reached the point where you can rely on them as your sole computing solution and relegate your desktop or laptop computer to the closet, I think it may reach that point in a few years, but we're not there yet, because there'll have to be a significant increase in screen size, and keyboards with full-size keys on which you can truly touch type. Look at it this way you're going on a business or pleasure trip. Of course your Treo goes with you, but do you leave your laptop at home? My guess is: probably not. If you're like me, once you settle down in your hotel room, out comes the laptop for serious work or computing pleasure.
I could write this review using nothing but my Treo, Docs to Go, and a folding portable Bluetooth keyboard, but it'd take me ten times as long to do it. I have yet to find a compact keyboard on which I can fly at 100wpm like I can on a "real" keyboard.
However, with all this increased power and faster networks, streaming media, including video, on a Treo has matured to the point where it's not just a wacky Doc Emmett Brown science experiment any more but a highly competitive, dare I say, exploding business.
Unless you've been sleeping in a tree the past year, wake up! - you can now watch live, streaming television on your Treo.
Tiny screen. Huge screen. Everyone wants both
TV seems to be exploding in two directions at once. For home use, the sales of HDTV subscriptions via cable and satellite, along with exploding sales of bigger and bigger flat screen LCD and Plasma-screen sets has literally gone nuts as prices continue to decrease.
So where are we now? Well, maybe Steve Jobs gave us a taste of the future during his hour and a half dog and pony show at MacWorld Expo last month when he unveiled and demoed the iPhone.
But if you watched that whole presentation, (and I'll admit, he's quite a showman).. did he bother to tell us that the whole time he was using it over a WiFi connection? Did you see him streaming any live video on it? I watched the whole thing and sure, the iPhone is as sexy as all get-out, its animated GUI is gorgeous, everyone immediately said "I want one!" but it's still months away, and we still don't know a whole lot about what it'll REALLY do when it's finally released.
But let's get back to reality. What you can do with your Treo right now. Not six months from now. And one of the things you can do with your Treo right now, assuming you have a current model, like the 700p, and assuming you have the requisite unlimited data plan, and assuming you get a decent signal and you're willing to pony up a few bucks a month for the pleasure is: you can stream live TV.
Pardon me while I get legal
Up front, and not to confuse things, but the folks behind smarTVideo (pronounced "Smart Video").. asked me to make it clear that due to a corporate name change, they are now legally "smarTVideo Technologies, Inc. d/b/a uVuMobile" and will eventually be known only as "uVuMobile." There, that should keep the lawyers happy.
What is it?
smarTVideo is a tiered-price subscription mobile television service, not radically different than the cable or satellite dish service that feeds your home TV. You getcher "Basics" for one price, and add-on premiums for extra bucks. Short term or extended plans. It's pay-as-you-go and pay for as many channel "tiers" as you want, or as many as they offer, depending on how you want to look at it. Ala carte, or gimme everything.
The number of channels offered by smarTVideo is rather limited: a little over two dozen from which to choose. This is a far cry from the thousand plus channels you'll get out of a typical digital cable subscription, but the price is also far less than a digital cable subscription, which, if you pack it to the gills with premiums, can easily run $75.00 a month or more.
If you go with smarTVideo's full "Basic" package of channels, it'll cost you from as little as $2.95 if you just want to buy it for a day (I can't imagine why you would, but maybe someone might).. to $12.95 a month. I'll get to all the gory details shortly, but stop and ask yourself this: if you, like me, have digital cable at home, how many of those 1000 channels do you actually watch on a regular basis? Be honest. 10? 20? Have you programmed your cable box's remote to skip over hundreds of channels you couldn't give a rat's patoot about? All that fluff and junk you simply NEVER watch?
Vast wasteland indeed.
There's more crap on cable than stuff actually worth watching, at least for this consumer.
Still, the whole concept of carrying around a choice selection of news and entertainment channels in your hand is an appealing one, and smarTVideo offers an interesting, though certainly not immense number of channels you can watch.
The other hard and fast requirement (besides a 700p, although it'll work on a 600 or a 650, I'd truly advise against using those older Treos if you want to get into this service, as without an unlimited, high speed data plan, you're not gonna be very happy with the results.. even thought they WILL work), is you must have Kinoma Media Player 4 EX installed too. smarTVideo works in tandem with 4 EX and won't work without it.
So let's take a look at smarTVideo's current station line-up and see what your dollars will get onto your Treo's screen:
smarTVideo offers these "Mobile" channels which are detailed on their site. Again, some of these, like MSNBC, are actual, LIVE TV feeds, while others are stored, streaming content, but EVERYTHING they offer is video.
For instance, "Rascals Comedy Classics", which has absolutely NOTHING to do with Spanky or Alfalfa, contains literally hundreds of recorded stand-up routines by dozens of famous comics. If you've got an itch to watch Andrew Dice Clay in his black leather jacket do his famous "Little Miss Muffet" filthy Grandma Goose(d) routines (seemed so cutting edge back when he first sprang onto the scene, didn't it?).. it's there, along with hundreds of other stage performances by him and other comedians.
The "BASIC Mobile" tier:
ABC News Now
College Sports TV
Court TV News
Fun Little Movies
The Weather Channel
And here's what smarTVideo's Basic tier pricing for all that stuff above will cost you:
$2.95 a day or
$7.95 a week or
$12.95 a month or
$119.00 for a full year
Then there are the PREMIUM channels
Content Asia Network > $4.95
DIC Cartoons > $4.95
Rascals Comedy Classics > $3.95
And the infamous (sorry, kids, no screen shot this IS a family site)..
Naked News > $6.95
All the "Premiums" prices are monthly and monthly only.
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