December 21, 2008 - TV for Your Windows Mobile Phone

By Mike Fruchter of (Twitter/FriendFeed)

In the digital age that we live in, we are consumers on the go. We depend on and use our mobile devices for everything. Gone are the days where phones were just used for calling someone. Thanks to the rapid changes in technology, our mobile devices have become computers in a sense. We use them to check e-mail, take pictures, play music, play games and so forth. There is not much you can't do on a mobile device nowadays. Though we are not at the point yet where mobile devices will replace the pc, give it another ten years and then lets have this conversation.

Like many of you, I rely on my smartphone for just about everything. I check my e-mail, browse the web, frequently watch YouTube videos, and stream music on my device, but I have never watched TV on my smartphone. Recently, I came across TheChanner, an application currently only available for Windows PCs and mobile devices, which my smartphone happens to be. It's a free, simple application currently in beta, that streams TV channels from across the world.

I particularly like this application because they put some thought into it, and added some social aspects to it which I will cover in this post. For testing purposes I used my smartphone which is an HTC Kaiser running on Windows Mobile 6.

Once you have TheChanner installed on your phone, getting started is relatively easy. You need either a Wifi or 3G-enabled phone for it to work. There is variety of channels to choose from, but beware a majority of them are international. There are a few decent US based TV stations to choose from such as the Combat channel, Baseball channel and Rock television pictured in the above screenshot. The quality of the streams varies from great to horrible. It's dependent on the feed servers and your connection. I had a much better success rate compared to 3G, connecting via Wifi.

The streams can be viewed in half size or full screen mode. The menu bar will allow you to search for stations, favor a station, control the volume, and screen size. Clicking the info button will give you information about the particular channel, and also any comments left by other TheChanner viewers.

There are an impressive 163 channels to choose from. Most are Internet TV channels, which explains why I have never heard of them. While I love the selection of channels, I found no more than about 30 or so that were US-based channels. They offer a channel from just about every country on the globe, so you will definitely find something interesting to watch, that's for sure.

Clicking through 33 pages of channels is time consuming. You can filter the streams you want to watch by categories, countries and languages. As the service grows and adds more channels, you will be able to filter more effectively.

The social aspects are an added touch. You can leave comments on any stream, which are viewable to anyone else who is watching the channel. You can also share a particular station with your friends. Sharing a station is done by sending an SMS message, email, or you can beam the station using bluetooth or IR.

Final verdict:

The application has potential and beats the socks off any Web site-based viewer that lets you watch TV channels, but it's still a little rough around the edges as with any beta. I want to see more channels added, specifically US based ones. CNN India is nice, if you happen to live in India, but what about CNN United States? The other thing I was not too thrilled about was adding a shortcut to start TheChanner on my phone's home screen. Unless that was an option I selected, which I'm almost positive I did not, don't force it to be an icon on my home screen, let me choose. All in all the application is worth checking out, if you are looking for free streaming tv on your Windows Mobile device give it a shot. You can also always install the application to a Windows desktop PC, if you don't have a Windows Mobile device.

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