Hands-on Bell Canada Mobile TV service
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
easure. 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 and 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.