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Watch TV While on the Run

New services let you watch TV on your mobile phone, but it may be tough on your eyes.

John Blau, IDG News Service

Tired of gabbing, writing text messages, and playing games on your mobile phone to kill time? Try watching some TV.

Mobile TV, of course, isn't just for people physically on the move; it's also intended for those waiting for a train or taking a coffee break or even sitting in a cab waiting for a passenger. I asked a cab driver what he thought about the service after I tested it during a ride. "Nice," he said. "Really nice, but I doubt I can afford it."

Because mobile TV is about viewing on the go, I checked out the service in a car, train, and streetcar. Reception in all three was fine as long as I remained in a 3G cell--which meant that when I recently boarded a train in Frankfurt, I lost reception shortly outside of the city. That's a shame because I think many train commuters (and Germany has plenty of them) would readily use the mobile TV service.

If, after reading all this, you now wonder whether I'd be willing to pay extra for the mobile TV service, let me disappoint you. The service is slick--I like the news and sport channels--and it will most assuredly improve over time, but I personally am not on the move enough to take advantage of such a service. Also, I'm not too crazy about watching anything--particularly a movie--on a small screen for much longer than a few minutes.

On that front, I'm not alone. "The movie offering is great for optometrists but not for users," Boris Nemsic, chief executive officer of Mobilkom Austria, told me in an interview shortly after the launch of the operator's own mobile TV service. "It's just too hard on my eyes."

Mobile TV is a slow hanging curve ball over the center of the plate for Microvision's microdisplay platform. It's the only technology that can give users a big screen experience and still fit into a cell phone form factor.

All we need is a bloop single...

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