There’s never been a compelling reason to have a portable TV on your person. Do we really need another way to rot our brains? FLO TV certainly thinks so. The Qualcomm-developed technology began appearing on a handful of mobile phones last year and offers live streaming and previously aired content from a variety of networks. The FLO TV Personal TV (PTV) is a direct to consumer device that simply streams content without the hassle of having to deal with your mobile phone carrier. But does someone with an iPhone or even a DVR really need a personal TV? It’s hard to say one way or another, but when a device works as advertised, it’s hard to say no.
Built by HTC (makers of the Sprint Hero, Verizon Droid Eris, etc.), the PTV features a large 3.5-inch capacitive touch-screen, built-in speakers, adjustable stand and instant access to programming at all hours of the day. It weighs a tad more than your standard BlackBerry or iPhone at 5.5 ounces. Battery life is estimated at 5 hours of TV watch time, but we managed to squeak out over eight hours the first go around. Mileage will vary based on signal strength and battery conditioning. But we were impressed nonetheless.
The user interface is fairly intuitive and is as easy as swiping your finger up or down to change channels. A dedicated menu button, however, brings up the entire programming guide should you need to peruse your options. For whatever reason, the speakers were placed on the backside of the device making it difficult to discern between audio streaming from the device and chattering in the surrounding area. We’d suggest using headphones, but if you’re using this in the comfort of your own office or home then it’s a moot point.
Content comes from ABC Mobile, Adult Swim Mobile, CBS Mobile, CNBC, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, ESPN Mobile TV, FLO TV Channel, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, MTV, NBC 2Go and Nickelodeon. Only a few channels are simulcast, meaning you can watch them in near-real time: for instance, breaking news on Fox News Channel or select sporting events on ESPN. The service is quite good when signal strength is optimal with very little buffering. However, when pulling up the programming guide, the audio checks out for a second and then resumes without a hitch until you switch channels. Certainly not a dealbreaker in our book, but if you’re a compulsive channel surfer there’s a chance it might become a nuisance.
So the PTV streams popular content and keeps you up to date on the latest breaking news. If the US Open or any other sporting event is delayed you can rest assure that your PTV won’t miss a beat. Is there an app for that? Can you be sure that your DVR will actually record what you want it to?