Desperate to watch television on your phone and can’t wait for digital terrestrial TV to kick off next year? Now you can, thanks to a new cellular handset from Chinese manufacturer VS Mobile. But be warned: you’ll be stuck watching free-to-air channels.
VS Mobile’s new V826 mobile TV phone, which is available from Altech Autopage Cellular, has an analogue TV tuner in it that allows you to receive e.tv and the three channels offered by the SABC and can record up to nine hours of broadcasts.
It’s an interesting idea, and is a nice addition to any mobile handset, though not a must-have.
The problem — and it’s a biggie — is that the V826 is a horrible phone. On paper, it looks like a reasonable device. It can play MP3 audio files, MP4 video files, has a large, 45mmx58mm touch-screen, and battery life is relatively good, even when watching TV. And it can take two Sim cards — useful for switching between networks for the cheapest prepaid deals.
But in reality, the V826, which costs a very reasonable R1 600, is not a phone you’re going to want to own. First of all, it’s badly designed. It’s too big, the keys are ugly, and the software is amateurish.
And it’s lacking key features you’d expect in a device like this: 3G support and a decent camera (the V826’s integrated 1,3-megapixel camera is poor). One gets the impression that the engineers at VS Mobile built a portable television set first, and then integrated phone functionality around it almost as an afterthought.
If you’ve played around with a handset capable of receiving digital TV signals, there’s no way you’d touch the V826 with a bargepole.
Rather hold off your purchase until next year when the first digital handheld TV broadcasts are expected to start. You’ll get a better handset and a much better selection of channels. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral