I just received an email from our friends at SPB Software House; you can visit their website [here]. They announced that their software SPB TV version 2.0 is available for FREE. The software is available free of charge for Windows Mobile Pro (touchscreens), Windows Mobile (standard), iPhone and webOS. The versions for Symbian, Android and BlackBerry are paid. A new version for Maemo is announced to be released “soon”. SPB TV is used for watching TV over your web connection (IP TV) without the need to pay a subscription fee to anyone (except your data charges if you are using your cell carrier broadband), over WiFi, it is 100% free. If you want to download it from MS Windows Mobile Marketplace straight to your device, it is available for download (search for SPB TV), or if you want to install it with the PC Windows installer, you can download it [here]. The software even has access to free video on demand (as shown in the first image). In the case of the first image, you are watching full screen while you select the video you may want to watch. Image is showing stand up comedy.
Overall image quality can be selected as high- and low-bandwidth, high bandwidth uses about 350 kbps and on a 800x480 device looks great. Pixel size is larger on lower resolution devices, so a lower quality image could be displayed, but the documentation does not say if in this case, it would use a lower-bandwidth setting.
Here is the main screen, it shows a snapshot of the program playing at the time, and if available you will see part of the day’s schedule, plus the logos for the channels that are selected to display per your options/settings. When you want to start watching the currently selected channel, you can tap the snapshot or the “play button”. When a schedule is available, touching on it will take you to the full schedule for the next few days.
Once you are watching TV, you can access the picture-in-picture (PIP) feature and watch two channels at once. This feature lets you select the new channel while watching the already selected channel in full screen. The PIP feature and the full screen channels can be switched back and forth.
Once in full screen mode, you can access the on-screen control panel that will give you quick access to the battery indicator, estimated viewing time, current time, channel switching panel, video quality switcher, volume level controller, backlight level controller, and exit (from full screen) control.
The TV Guide screen will show you the current channel’s schedule, both in advance and part. This feature is only available for channels that provide this information. Not all channels have a schedule feature since it depends on the content being streamed from the source. A day of the week and from a calendar can be selected in order to see the schedule for that particular day as well as the channel in case you want to check the schedule for multiple channels. You can use this screen to setup an Outlook reminder from here. The application will create an appointment in Outlook so that you get reminded of a particular show starting at that particular time.
Some free video on demand is available in SPB TV. In this example the source is standup comedy and each item is a video clip. Each tile represents one clip that can be independently selected . The tiles show a snapshot, a title, a one-line-description, when it was posted online and its length.
You cannot specifically select a category of video on demand, but when you select a channel that has video on demand, you just enter this selection screen instead of just watching whatever they are broadcasting at the time.
Because video on demand is a pre-recorded clip and is not live TV, it can be paused, restarted, con continued from pause. One nice feature to have would be to pause regular live TV channels, this way SPB TV would behave somewhat like a DVR/Tivo device. Of course, this feature would be dependent on how much memory is at your disposal, but it would be great to have such feature.
Here is the volume level control, it display your volume adjustment on screen while you are making volume adjustments with the device’s volume buttons. Even if your device would normally go to a temporary screen to show your volume adjustment; if you are using SPB TV, you would see this volume adjustment overlay so you won’t miss video content while adjusting the volume. You could also adjust volume by tapping at the right level on the volume overlay on screen.
The brightness level control works the same way the volume level control, however you need to access it from your on-screen controls since there are no Windows Mobile devices that have brightness adjustment via hardware buttons (unless you selected other hardware buttons to adjust this setting). Overall it works the same way as volume level controls.
When you setup an Outlook reminder, an Outlook New Appointment pops up with the name of the TV show, the date and the starting and ending time, everything else appears with your Outlook default settings.
The Options screen is divided into two tabs: Channels allows you to select out of all the channels available, which ones to show in the scrollable channel selector. It also lets you sort the channels into whatever order you want. The Orientation tab lets you setup video to display in full-screen-landscape mode, which uses best the aspect ratio of your devices’ screen resolution. If you have a running application that will do the automatic rotation for you or if your device already came with it, then you don’t need to worry about the full screen orientation.
Overall SPB TV v2.0 is a great application with good quality TV. Please have in mind that image quality, frequency of caching and speed of acquiring the cache stream is always dependent of your connection speed. I have made many tests and have concluded that even if you have less than 3G broadband speeds such as EDGE (E) it will still be good enough to watch a show without interruptions as long as you have a minimum of 3/4 bars showing.