The N96 is finally in the house and what better way to test it other than take advantage of its DVB-H support? When the N96 was announced and its specifications became know, it was dubbed a N95 8GB clone with no other major additions, Nokia said DVB-H and no even paid much attention. When it came to evaluating the N96 at launch, I myself was suspect and didn’t think much of this aspect at the time. The general mood was that here’s a feature we would not be able to use and therefore is useless to us. Correct.
Until yesterday. I was in the city of New Delhi for some work and had my train back around noon. Having got a N96 on me I was looking forward to the journey – playing around with it and generally setting it up. While on the train, I reached the application labelled ‘Mobile TV’, I wasn’t even going to turn it on because I had something at the back of my mind which said ‘doesn’t work’ to me, still this being my first DVB-H handset, I opened it.
I was greeted with the above screen and to my absolute surprise I was served with a programme guide for the entire ‘Doordarshan Network’. It offered me a list of over 10 DD based channels such as DD News, DD India, DD Sports etc which I could simply click on to watch. Needless to say, I selected one and within two seconds I was watching the channel live and with a tilt towards the left – in fullscreen mode. No 3G, no internet – nothing. The quality was really super. Period. Even the small text that news channels generally have scrolling beneath the screen was clearly visible. Hitting next on the multimedia buttons or near the D-pad would take me to the next channel and within a second the new content would be playing on the N96’s beautiful 2.8″ screen. The volume was good and was handled by the volume keys on the right side of the device.
All in all I came out of the experience very impressed. After all, I was in a moving train, wanting to keep track of the latest game score and the phone not only allowed me to do that but also tap into live visual commentary by a news channel. What I am not happy about is the fact that I doubt there is coverage outside Delhi and that private channels would be entering the space anytime soon.
There has been a lot of debate over Streaming based TV v/s the DVB-H style. Services like Slingbox and HAVA allow anyone with a high speed internet connection to watch his/her favourite channels that he/she has already subscribed to, on the phone. This is done with the help of an application that is running on his phone which is tied to a device installed at home. Its a great solution generally but fails in places where is no high speed internet and on most Nseries devices on the move, because it will kill the battery like nothing else.
The N96 is a device I probably have a soft corner for owing to the fact that I was present at its announcement an the MWC. But after the recent announcement of the N85, the N96 lost its ground quite a bit. What this brief play with DVB-H has done is allow it gain some lost ground, how it turns out in the end – time will tell, but for now the fight is on.