Bell Canada's updated its Mobile TV service to introduce a bevy of new features and content. The mobile TV service now offers 26 channels of live programming and a pile of on demand content thrown in for good measure. The interface has been tidied up, a programming guide has made an appearance, alerts are now here so you won't miss shows and flipping to portrait mode from landscape lets you browse the new guide while your current show plays on. Bell's Mobile TV service is priced at $5 a month for five hours of content; overages -- measured in hours -- cost an additional $1 per hour, though using the service with WiFi is thankfully free. Is it worth the $5 on top of your already potentially pricey phone bill? Follow on through while we take Bell's TV offering for a quick spin with words and some pretty video, too.
Mobile TV loads up quickly, leading you to the screen you see above. The app is broken into tabs on the bottom half of the display, with currently-playing files sitting up top. Scrolling back and forth on the topmost row, you'll see a list of main menu items: Now Playing, Live, On Demand, Alerts, Guide, Radio and Settings. Navigating into any of the tabs offers sub-rows based on whichever you've touched. Click On Demand, for example, to expose the various types of on demand content: recently added to shows, sports and the like. This last row of tabs reveals the channels, so under News we see CTV News, CBC or AccuWeather. It took our S-Pen -- and minds -- just a few taps to find our way around as the layout is dead easy to use.
Navigation and use
The useful 'Now Playing' tab offers up some info on the show you're peeking at and what's next in the lineup. Live, On Demand, are fairly self-explanatory: Live TV will run whatever is on air at the moment on any chosen channel from the 26 available and On Demand has a pretty decent selection of shows that you can start and stop at will. Skipping past Alerts for a moment, is the TV Guide which lists all the content that you can watch from the current time up to two weeks from now. Alerts come in to play when you've scrolled ahead in the guide and clicked a few time slots into the future, now instead of the program starting a box pops up asking if you'd like to set an Alert for when it starts. The Radio tab is a gateway to a Sirius add-on if you choose to opt in for $8 a month for some 20 channels, and lastly settings. The settings tab doesn't have many options for tweaking the app. Just a FAQ, a login page to get additional content tied into your Bell Canada TV account -- if you have one -- and a pane to buy more services. In addition to that Sirius add-on, you can opt into HBO for a cool $5 a month.
From kid's channels to sports, entertainment and news, there's pretty much a piece for everybody here. We'd like to see movies in this app, we know that the focus is TV, but movies are still part and parcel of what TV offers. Notable live channels in the line-up include TSN, TSN2 -- we'll definitely appreciate the Formula 1 racing this summer -- CTV, CBC and Treehouse for the youngsters. HBO is another example of opt-in service for which you'll need to pay an additional $5. On Demand content gets refreshed on some unknown schedule, though, there seems to be a pretty deep selection on most shows we've looked up. An additional nicety would be to have an alert pop up when new On Demand content shows up, rather than us chasing the shows, they could simply let us know they've arrived.
Ultimately Bell Mobile TV is a pretty straightforward app that delivers TV without too much muss or fuss. Of course, some like the fiddling and seeing as that's us, we were hoping for some advanced settings for quality in here, but alas none were present. In fact, no matter what type of connection we had -- LTE, HSPA+ -- the video quality seemed to stay about the same. Don't get us wrong, that quality is pretty good; we're not talking HD, at least not yet, though with the speed of connections we could see this sort of thing becoming a reality. Pricing is fairly low, so if five hours of content for your commute serves your needs this service might be worth having a look at. We like that Bell's taken the confusion out of the equation and eliminated the worry about how much data you're using by simply billing by the hour. But on the flip side, if you're a heavy TV user, those 5 hours could disappear pretty quickly and things might get costly. As long as we can fit two Formula 1 races on TSN2 in during the summer months without blowing our monthly time allotment, we're kind of on board. The app is sitting in the app store now if you're curious to have a look.
Oh, and if you'd like to give the service a whirl on your very own Samsung Galaxy Note from Bell, pop back to the site tomorrow around lunch as we'll be giving one away to some lucky Canadian -- just the phone mind you, you'll have to spring for the service.