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[Digg] Cell phone screens suck for watching TV. Well, duh! - Adventures in Engineering — LiveJournal
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-08-14 19:24
  Subject:   [Digg] Cell phone screens suck for watching TV. Well, duh!
Public
  Mood:Size matters. ;]

According to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg survey, the kids these days, they're not all that enthralled with watching video on their cell phones and other small screen devices.

Only 14 percent of teens say they want to watch TV on cell phones, and only a few percent more say they'd watch on an iPod. That's compared to 40% who say they're willing to watch video content on the internet.

The kids who were surveyed said they had two major problems. Mobile video content costs too much, and the quality is not good enough, either because of a poor streaming experience, or low resolution.


http://www.pvrwire.com/2006/08/13/small-screen-blues/

Oh, you mean it's NOT fun to watch a crappy quality video on a screen the size of four postage stamps? That took a week to download?? Shocker!!

The Cell phone companies have spent a lot of money building data infrasturcture into their wireless networks. Now they're desperately looking for some way to make money off it. If they'd offer reasonably priced internet access (i.e. not $60/mo more on top of my already outrageous $30/mo voice plan, Verizon!) they'd have more customers than they'd know what to do with. But they're control freaks who only want to let you use The Internets *their* way. Only text messaging. Only overpriced ringtones. Only emailing your pictures out through their server. And you can bet you'll be paying by the kilobyte of data transferred for all of these.

This a bad deal, and people know it.

It stands in stark contrast to what made 'Nets connectivity so popular in the first place. Even when we were all still using modems, it was flat rate payment, eat all you can bandwidth, connect to anyone, anytime, any way you like. Want to leave your connection up all night to download a big file? Fine, go for it. I think it may have been Vint Cerf who said that if the telcos wanted to compete on net access, they have to give the customer what they want: simple "dumb pipes" that concentrate on moving whatever data we choose as fast as possible, without any attempt to interfere with the content on either a marketing or morality basis. He said this before DSL came out, and he was right then. I think he's right again today. See, the game hasn't really changed. Only the venue.
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  User: nickhalfasleep
  Date: 2006-08-14 20:00 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I think the whole video on a postage stamp was incredibly stupid. Why didn't they just stuff the bastards with enough memory to take on the ipod shuffle / nano for music?
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-08-14 20:23 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
They're already having to push the envelope of what's possible with current designs. There's a lot of CPU and specialized circuitry even in a mid-end cell phone. Put in a camera, color screen, etc, etc, and there's barely a sliver of space left. There's definitely not enough space for five or six more memory chips. And the power to run them starts to become significant as well.

From a non-engineering standpoint, cost is an issue too. All that fancy schmancy shit they cram into cell phones doesn't come cheap. Most people sign up for 2 year contracts so they never have to pay full retail for their cell phone. But check the full retail prices sometime. Even a mid-end phone tends to cost $350 when you're already under contract and not getting a break for signing up for a long period. Marketing people are smart enough to know that most people are bad at multiplying by 12 or 24. If you gouge them for an extra $5 a month and discount their phone by $50 or $100, most people consider that a great deal, instead of being $10-$20 pure profit for the cell phone company.
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Alex Belits: iskra
  User: abelits
  Date: 2006-08-15 11:08 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Keyword:iskra
My LG VX-8100 (already a generation behind) has ARM CPU and mini-SD card (I have 512M), and can play MP3 just fine. The problem is, in their infinite wisdom designers of music-capable phones made a special connector that is combined with a traditional mono+microphone headset, so only special headsets work with it, and converters are sold for "phone headset" pins but not "stereo headset" ones. Looks like absolutely pointless case of control-freakery to me, however I hope, third-party converters will appear soon. Taking apart the proprietary headset and attaching a stereo jack is another option, however $45 is way too expensive for such a trivial device.

MP3 is (of course) "disabled" by Verizon, however anyone who can type "howardforums" can easily enable it back.

Screen is obviously too small for any decent video, and there is some weak attempt to keep users from uploading videos over bluetooth, however it's very easy to defeat (camera creates "valid" files, bitpim can overwrite any file, file "validity" is tracked by indexes that ignore file content).

The problem with videos is, of course, that without a large output device no one would even bother uploading anything at high resolution, however if phone designers made as much as some shitty NTSC output, its cpu and mini-SD capacity would be sufficient to store and play something watchable.
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MikeRo
  User: mrothermel
  Date: 2006-08-14 20:29 (UTC)
  Subject:   downloading?
so... lets say someone wanted to download some torrents... wht appliction would the use on a windows box to do this without getting a bunch of viruses at the same time?


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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-08-14 20:50 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: downloading?
How tech-savvy is said person?

I use Azureus because it's easy. Well, easy once you get it running. It needs to have a recent Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed because Sun didn't get the network code right prior to that one. You can download the latest JRE free from Sun or from the Azureus site, but it's another step that sometimes annoys people. It was worth it for me - I really like Azureus.

uTorrent is a C program that doesn't need Java, but isn't as fancy or as intuitive. More for the techie set. But a tiny memory footprint and lightning fast. It's the motorcycle next to Azureus's Ferrari.

With either of these, you'll more than likely have to poke holes in your firewall to get decent performance. This is non-trivial, but there are some good guides on how to do it out there.
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  User: nickhalfasleep
  Date: 2006-08-14 20:59 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: downloading?
I've had no problems with uTorrent downloading.. ahem.. large linux distro ISO's.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2006-08-14 21:41 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
The size of the screen is probably what's stopped me from ever taking real interest in portable game machines (ie, gameboys, psp's, etc) also.

-J
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-08-15 00:42 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
The PSP screen is bright and clear enough that it's getting pretty close to where I'd tolerate it.

Frankly though, for portable applications a good direct-to-eyeball display is going to be required. Even a screen the size of a CD case is unacceptably small more than about arm's length away. Make your screen larger than that, and it starts to get obnoxious to carry around. A conventional screen just can't win here.

Head Mounted Displays are coming along. Imagine quality and weight is pretty damn close to acceptable. Now if only they didn't cost $2000. Oh, yes, I guess there's that "I'm auditioning for a role as the next victim of The Borg" problem too:


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Alex Belits: iskra
  User: abelits
  Date: 2006-08-15 11:20 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Keyword:iskra
Oh, yes, I guess there's that "I'm auditioning for a role as the next victim of The Borg" problem too:

(owl goes here)
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