Forget TV On Mobile Phones, How About (Expensive) Feature Length Movies?

from the sounds-positively-terrible dept

What is it with the infatuation with moving broadcast media to mobile phones? While some are still trying to convince everyone that we want to watch TV on our phones (despite the fact that past attempts at portable TV didn’t work out so well), now some actually believe that feature-length movies will be a hit on mobile phones. Not just feature-length movies, by the way, but expensive feature-length movies. Some companies has worked out the licensing deal so that certain phone users will be able (in theory, should they want to) to download The Shawshank Redemption for around $32 to their mobile phones. Yes, you have to wonder why someone would pay that much. Yes, you have to wonder just how long it might take to download such a film onto the phone at pokey cellular connection speeds — even of the 3G variety (storage is less of an issue, since this deal is with a company making storage for portable devices like this — and it appears there will be an option to buy the storage card with the movie already there). However, most importantly, you have to wonder who really wants to sit around and watch Tim Robbins escape from jail on a one inch screen for two hours and twenty two minutes. Update: It’s been pointed out that, despite what the original article suggests, this probably isn’t available for download, but only as a memory card (which we mentioned as an option — but it appears to be the only option). So that takes out the download issue, but doesn’t solve any of the other ones. Plus, it adds the question of whether you really want to spend so much on a proprietary media card type that you probably won’t be able to watch on other devices like, say, your TV.

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Comments on “Forget TV On Mobile Phones, How About (Expensive) Feature Length Movies?”

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Permanent4 (profile) says:

Think bigger (as in screen)

Nobody wants to watch a movie on the tiny LCD screen of a cell phone. The ideal scenario here is to plug your cell phone into your TV.

Archos has been doing this for years with their AV100/300/400 players and, more recently, with their Gmini 400. You can watch DivX/XviD video on the small LCD, or you can plug the device into your TV and watch that video on a big screen. DivX looks pretty darn good through an S-Video connection.

Now imagine you’ve got an HSDPA-capable phone with a small hard drive, plus a live HSDPA network that gets you about 3 Mbps. Now, you can dial into your carrier, rent a movie, download it to your phone over wireless connection, dock your phone into a video cradle (a la the Archos AV420), and watch the movie on your big screen TV. And the movie would disappear after 24 hours, just like with a cable company’s VOD service.

It could also work like Netflix. For an extra $19.95 a month on your cell phone bill, you could download up to three movies at a time and watch them whenever you want.

Of course, its competitiveness would depend on the strength of the network and the software, not to mention the MPAA’s blessing, but it certainly wouldn’t be impossible…

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

All depends on the phone...

I have a Treo 600 with a 2.5″ diagonal screen with 160×160 resolution. It has in it a 512MB SD card that can easily hold two full length movies sized down to 160×120 resolution.

The next model up, the Treo 650 has the same size screen but 4x the resolution (320×320) and a faster processor so it can handle even higher quality video.

There is a free (as in beer) movie player available here. It plays back most common video formats and works great.

All you need is one of the many free movie compression packages (I like VirtualDub and DivX) and you can download any blockbuster for free off of the alt.movies.divx newsgroups, transcode it into a smaller format and watch it on your phone whenever you have down time. Heck, with the Treo 650 you dont’ even need to downsize it, as long as your SD card is big enough, it’s powerful enough to render it smaller to fit the screen.

I agree that for a majority of phone users it’s not the greatest of ideas, but there are a lot of us out there who’s phones are more than capable of supporting this. While at the cashier’s stand at lunch today there were three reps from HP in line behind me. One of their Treos rang with the default ringer and three of them pulled out a Treo to see if it was for them. Plus me that made four Treos in a row…

ckm says:

Re: All depends on the phone...

I’ve been using it with Pocket Divx Encoder for about a week.

I can fit 10 hrs of TV programming on my 1gig card and I play it on my Treo. Works great. Haven’t tried a DVD yet, but 600mb TV rips shrink to about 120 mb (for an hour of video).

Everyone who has seen it (from business partners to receptionists to cab drivers) has been stunned by it.

With 2 or more gigs on the card, you could almost travel 1/2 way around the world and be entretained by your phone 😉 And the quality is fantastic. Small, but fantastic. The only real issue is that the sound does NOT play through the bluetooth headset, you have to plut in headphones.


acousticiris (user link) says:

Mobile video isn't necessarily dead... proprietary

Expecting that someone will pay $32 dollars for a movie on a tiny screen, listened to through a set of cheep stereo headphones (or worse, a miserable mono headset) at a low bitrate and probably low framerate is insane. Whoever thought this one up should simply be fired for being stupid.
Now lets assume it’s a copy of a DVD I already own. I doubt you’d see me playing it back on my phone…lest we forget that a cell phone is used *firstly* as a communications device. For people like me, it’s a critical communications device that cannot leave my side at any time, and must have a fully charged battery. Playing a few hours of video would seem quite taxing to the battery, leaving my “already-need-to-charge-it-every-night-and-carry-a-second-battery” cell phone almost useless to me.
All of that being said, I recently purchased a Dell Axim X50v with a nice 480×640 3.7″ screen. Yup, it’s small and the quality of video it can play back doesn’t come without sacrifices, but it has really been nice to have access to some entertainment during moments of downtime,…like standing in line at the DMV. I would put it on par with my old portable television,… except it’s content *I’ve* chosen to record, re-encode and playback. And if I murder my battery, so what? I can do without it until its time to plug in.
Would I ever consider purchasing a portable version of that video as opposed to reencoding the video I have already recorded? Not a chance.

Derek Cunningham says:

Movies on Phones

I had a look at this, more of a “I wounder if I could”, I was able to covert a 90min dvd using my laptop and reduce it to just over 45mb file (at my phones screen resolution) More importantly by holding a library on my laptop of I can transfer the files as and when I want to watch them.

It beats watchin paint dry!!

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