Mobile TV offers eight channels: CBS Mobile, Comedy Central, ESPN Mobile TV, Fox Mobile, MTV, NBC 2Go, NBC News 2Go, and Nickelodeon. On the whole, it's a decent offering, but if you're looking to make sure you don't miss your favorite show when you're away from home, you'll likely be disappointed. Not all the offerings are "live" as in simulcast; some of the content is timeshifted (David Letterman at 11 a.m.?), and others are delivered specifically for mobile viewers, such as NBC's Primetime Catch-Up, a roundup of the network's previous night's prime time offerings.
As far as when you can expect to see your favorite network shows simulcast, it's hit or miss. Different networks simulcast over Mobile TV at different times. But even if you can't watch your favorite shows when they're actually broadcast, you'll be able to view many popular shows, including Chappelle's Show, South Park, CSI, and The Real World. Fox Mobile proved to be the most disappointing in terms of programming, airing failed shows such as Stacked and The Loop during primetime instead of hits such as 24 or The Simpsons.
Still, there is a fair amount of live network broadcasts. We were able to watch the NCAA basketball tournament live while away from home, for example, and NBC News 2Go is a mix of mostly live programming from NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC. It's not exactly TiVoToGo, but V Cast could certainly come in handy during commutes or waiting for a flight.
One of Mobile TV's big draws is that it delivers live TV broadcasts rather than streaming video. That means true 30-frames-per-second transmission (EV-DO streaming services cap out at 15fps) and fantastic, crystal-clear video quality that rivals regular broadcast TV. We saw no lag between audio and video, and the video itself was crisp and vibrant. Some programs displayed a bit more artifacts than others, but it's far superior to any previous mobile video services. Of course the smaller display on a cell phone isn't conducive for extended viewing, but it's still a satisfying experience.
Channel-hopping on Mobile TV isn't quite instantaneous, but it's quick enough--there's about a two-second lag between selecting a channel and the feed coming through, or about what you get with satellite TV.
Pricing and availability
Pricing plans include three options. The $25 per month Select plan gives you all eight Mobile TV channels and the V Cast Pack service, which includes unlimited streamed video clips from the V Cast service, access to the carrier's mobile Web 2.0 application, and unlimited data and e-mail. The Basic $15 per month includes the eight V Cast Mobile TV channels (V Cast content is extra) while the $13 per month Limited package gives you just four channels: Fox Mobile, NBC 2Go, NBC News 2Go, and CBS Mobile.
Mobile TV is currently available in 25 U.S. markets: Tucson, Ariz.; Los Angeles; Palm Springs, Calif.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Denver; Jacksonville, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Atlanta; Chicago; Indianapolis; Topeka, Kans.; Wichita, Kans.; New Orleans; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Kansas City; St. Louis; Omaha-Lincoln, Neb.; Las Vegas; Albuquerque-Santa Fe, N.Mex.; Portland; Nashville; Dallas-Fort Worth; Salt Lake City; Norfolk-Richmond, Va.; and Seattle. More cities will be added later, but if you don't live in one of these areas, the service and the phones won't be available for purchase.