03:55 PM

You Can Take It With You: TV On The Small, Small Screen

A 50-inch plasma display may be cool, but try fitting one in your pocket. We show you a variety of options for taking TV wherever you go--without a wheelbarrow.

In an increasingly wired world, hardcore video addicts want their entertainment available 24/7, wherever they go. So if you're a cutting-edge information junkie, how are you going to get your fix when you're sitting in a taxi stuck in traffic?

TV On The Small, Small Screen

•  Streaming Video Clips

•  Full-Length Streaming Video

•  A La Carte Clips And Shows

•  Self-Recorded Content

•  Setting Expectations

As it turns out, there are now many options available that will provide video content on handheld devices. They can largely be broken down into four groups, depending on what type of content you're interested in and who gets to make the decision about what you watch: pre-recorded streaming video clips provided by cell phone carriers, streaming full-length video programs, clips and content purchased and downloaded individually, and self-recorded content.

Streaming Video Clips

Your carrier probably offers some variety of enhanced video services for your phone -- if you own a newer-generation cell phone and you happen to live in one of the upgraded 3G service areas that can supply the data fast enough (usually in or near metropolitan areas). Even then, you're going to be limited to the programming offered by the carrier, and the offerings usually won't be very long.

ESPN clips on V Cast.
Click image to enlarge.

For example,Verizon Wireless' V Cast service allows subscribers to view short clips from shows, get news updates or watch music videos. On a typical day, you might have a few CNN, NBC and ABC News breaking news stories, some financial stories, the weather forecast, some entertainment clips (Elmo singing the Letter H song, anyone?), and some sports updates. Verizon claims "hundreds of new clips daily," and the service will add $15 a month to your bill.

Cingular also offers a clip service, called Cingular Media Net. Pay $20 a month, and you can watch clips from NBC Mobile, Fox Mobile, CNN, Fox News, ESPN, Fox Sports, Cartoon Network, Disney Mobile, iFilm, The Weather Channel, ABC and Richard Childress Racing. Adding HBO, HBO Family Mobile, or Music Choice to the package will cost an additional $5 each per month.

Sprint offers a very different option with its Sprint Power Vision service. For $15 a month, you can watch full-length streaming video from a number of channels rather than just short clips. If you subscribe to the "ultimate pack," you'll have access to ABC News Now, SIRIUS Hits, NFL Networks, Fox Sports, Fuse, Fashion TV, ESPN, Fox News, NBC, The Weather Channel, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Toon World, Looney Tunes, Comedy Time, and Music Choice.

T-Mobile has no current streaming video option, but reports indicate they'll be rolling one out in 2007.

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