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MyTV? May TV! Analog TV in mobile phone

A Sun.Star Cebu colleague bought an interesting phone recently. May TV. (Note: Pronounce may as mai; may is the Tagalog word for “with.”) It’s not Digital Video Broadcasting – Handheld or DVB-H, the technology used by Smart’s myTV service. It’s good old analog TV, the free-to-air signals picked up by regular TVs using antennae.

Mobile TV MOBILE TV. Viewing QTV in TVMobile, a Chinese-made touchscreen phone that can pick up analog TV signals. The antenna at the bottom of the phone can be used as a stylus. Click on photo to enlarge.

The brand printed on the faceplate is TVMobile and for P7,000 (the price when he bought it), it is chock-full of features. The phone was made in China and came with a Chinese manual. It is being sold by a stall in one of the department stores on Colon St. in Cebu City.

The mobile TV offered by Smart’s myTV uses DVB-H and, apart from needing a compatible handset, you need to pay a monthly subscription fee to view the shows. With the TVMobile phone, you don’t need to pay fees, maintain a credit load in your phone, or subscribe to a service.

Since it picks up regular analog TV signal, the video quality isn’t that great, unlike the high-quality video you get with myTV.

When we viewed a show in his cubicle inside the Sun.Star Cebu building, the video was grainy—a signal that, in the time before cable TV, meant you had to climb up your roof to adjust the antenna’s orientation and shout “OK na?”

The phone, according to the colleague who bought it, can pick up local broadcasts of ABS-CBN, GMA 7, QTV, Studio 23, and the Catholic Channel CCTN. Unlike myTV, which is working to expand its channels lineup, you are stuck with these channels in TVMobile. I don’t think the number of free-to-air channels will be increasing. Cable TV channels might still increase but not free-to-air.

TVMobile also offers CATV connection but my colleague hasn’t tried it yet. He’s still experimenting with phone. The manual, as I wrote above, is in Chinese.

TVMobile comes with a touchscreen to control phone functions. I asked the colleague who bought the phone and he said he never encountered problems with the responsiveness of the touchscreen. The phone’s TV antenna can be detached and used as a stylus. Now that is really ingenuous.

Battery time isn’t that bad, he said. If you watch TV, the phone can consume a full charge in 1 and 1/2 hours. That’s more than enough time for TV Patrol Central Visayas or Balitang Bisdak.

The phone also comes with a VGA camera that can take photos of up to 1,280 by 960 pixels. It can also take videos in 3GP format.

My colleague said he initially thought that the phone was fragile. But after dropping it thrice, from a height of at least three feet, the phone is still working and he’s pretty impressed with its sturdiness.

The phone is a GSM unit with GPRS and Bluetooth connectivity. You can increase the phone’s storage by buying a memory card. The unit can store two SIMs but only one functions at a time. If you want to use the other SIM, the phone reboots to use it. Another Chinese-made phone I know of can work with both SIMs functioning at the same time.

The phone also does not come with USB drivers and a PC suite. But when you attach it to a Windows PC, the system will be looking up for MT6227 drivers. That’s your clue. Search for this driver and you can download not only it but an application that will allow you to manage the phone from your PC. After the installation, you will be asked to choose when you connect it whether you want to use the com port. Choose the com port if you want to use the PC application to send and receive messages.

By Max Limpag

Max is a journalist and blogger based in Cebu City, Philippines. He is co-founder of the journalism start-up InnoPub Media.