MobiTV Review

Review: MobiTV

January 5, 2006
Ratings: 2 of 5

By: Christopher Meinck

MobiTV is a subscription based service that allows you to stream and watch television on your Treo. As someone who enjoys TV, I was excited about test driving MobiTV. When I first reported about the availability of MobiTV on the Treo , it was only available for the Treo 650. MobiTV has since made it available on both the Treo 650 and Treo 600. No word yet on compatiblity with the new 700w. It’s recommended that you have an unlimited data plan if you plan on using MobiTV. This is due the data usage required for video content. If you do not have an unlimited data plan, you’ll probably want to take a pass on this service.

Getting set-up with MobiTV

MobiTV is a subscription based service, but requires that you install software on your Treo. The MobiTV application is 664k. For this review, I installed the application on my Treo. Subscriptions can be purchased month to month or a 4 month subscription with CD. If you purchase a monthly subscription, they will automatically bill you if you do not cancel. Upon subscribing, you recieve an Express Login ID and Password which you set up. Getting MobiTV installed and set-up was very easy.

Channel Lineup

When MobiTV first announced compatibility with the Treo, they already had an impressive list of channels. Since that time, they have also added a few new channels. In total, MobiTV now offers up to 50 channels.

  • NBC
  • Discovery
  • TLC
  • ABC
  • ESPN
  • FOX Sports
  • CNBC
  • Vegas Sports
  • Vegas Scoreline
  • California Music Channel
  • CMC
  • CMC Beat Lounge
  • Comedy Time
  • Fashion TV
  • CNET
  • Discovery Kids
  • ToonWorld
  • CSPAN 2
  • Discovery Espanol
  • MLB
  • Weather Channel
  • CNN
  • ITN
  • Cartoon Network
  • Extreme
  • ShortsTV
  • CBC
  • RDI
  • The Weather Network
  • FOX News Channel
  • G4
  • The Shopping Channel
  • Bloomberg Television
  • Nano TV
  • mobi Trailers
  • iFilm
  • YTV
  • Treehouse
  • Kerrang
  • Max Sports
  • Horror Classics
  • The Mudds

Depending on your provider and location, your channels might vary. I found the selection to be more than adequate and was pleased to see popular channels like ESPN, MSNBC and Fox News. There is also movie trailers channel which I don’t even have on DirecTV. In total, my MobiTV service had 29 channels.


MobiTV has a very slick interface and looks great on the Treo. A quick press of the Guide brings up your available channels in buttons that resemble the favorites buttons on the Treo dialer. Arrows at the top of the screen allow you to scroll through the next group of channels. I had three screens of channels. The channels actually have numbers, and while they go up to 50, there were gaps between channel numbers. All in all, I had 29 channels which was more than enough for mobile television. The interface isn’t cluttered and the help button provides a quick reference for navigating the screen on the Treo. MobiTV supports the 5-way navigation of the Treo, so you can use it to scroll through the channel selection. Once you find a channel, the middle button selects it. I had flashbacks to my Tivo remote which also uses a 5 way navigation. Simply put, the Treos 5-way navigation is perfect for choosing channels and allows for one handed navigation.

Not Ready For Primetime

MobiTV is technology that is simply amazing. The whole concept of having 29 or so channels accessible wherever you have wireless coverage is great. The Treo (and especially the Treo 650) is an ideal device with it’s large high resolution screen and 5-way "tivo-like" navigation. It also helps that a large percentage of Treo owners have opted for unlimited data from their wireless providers making it a perfect match. The next step was to watch TV. Given my extensive television watching history, this was an easy task and one I was willing to undertake. When you first launch MobiTV, a progress bar comes up that you are receiving the signal. The service came up within seconds and I immediately selected GUIDE. I browsed my channels and selected ESPN3. The programming on EPSN3 is specifically targeted for mobile users. Channel content on ESPN3 is similar to ESPN News. Some channels are actual feeds you’d find on DirecTV or you local cable operator. For example, as I write this review, I’m watching Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC. The picture has some minimal pixelization and that’s to be expected. On shows where there is minimal movement, the screen is quite impressive. I could easily see MobiTV as a way to combat boredom on a long commute, the doctor’s office or waiting for a flight. The real problem occurs while watching a program. I had a full line of coverage bars, yet some programs would cut out after 15 seconds or so with an error of no cip appearing in the top banner. If you recall the days before broadband where you wait for the buffering of a video, then you’ll know exactly what I experienced with MobiTV. This was consistent on all of the channels tested. However, I did have more success at different times of the day.


As a Treo owner, I’m accustomed to always being in touch. When away from my Mac, I regularly check my email on Snappermail and browse the web via Blazer. Until my iPod Video purchase, I’ve also used the Treo to watch movies. I was excited about MobiTV because live television is the next logical technology that’s missing from my Treo. MobiTV offers a great selection of channels, a slick interface, but without a high speed data connection it often suffers from frequent drop-outs and buffering issues. If and when MobiTV becomes available on the Treo 700w, I’d expect the service to perform exponentially better using Verizon’s EV-DO network.

MobiTV is priced at $9.95 and is available monthly through MobiTV.

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