Nokia launches TV phone no-one can use

Nokia’s new TV-enabled mobile phone – the gloriously hi-tech-looking N92, above left  – is terribly exciting. With 3G networks increasingly offer

Nokia’s new TV-enabled mobile phone – the gloriously hi-tech-looking N92, above left  – is terribly exciting. With 3G networks increasingly offering mobile TV channels, it’s bound to find its way onto the Christmas list of any self-respecting gadgeteer.

But wait a minute…  the N92 isn’t designed to receive the sort of TV channels being ‘broadcast’ by likes of Vodafone, Orange and 3 – those guys are streaming video over 3G networks. Nokia’s phone uses a system called DVB-H, which is essentially a low-powered version of Freeview. It’s proper digital TV – and at the moment, no one is broadcasting it on a large scale.

So, why has Nokia announced this DVB-H TV phone? Well, there are trials going on around the world, including one in Oxford in the UK. At present, these trials are using modified Nokia 7700 handsets, and the N92 is definitely an improvement on that beast. What’s more, the N92 is scheduled for a release some time in 2006, by which time at least one country – most likely Germany – will have switched off their analogue TV signals. And that will allow the bandwidth to broadcast programmes in the DVB-H format. Lucky things.

Unfortunately for us Brits, our analogue switch-off isn’t scheduled until 2012 – hopefully, but not definitely, in time for us to be able to watch the London Olympics on our DVB-H mobiles. But we’re willing to bet they won’t be the N92. There is an outside chance DVB-H will come sooner, but whispers from Britain’s communications regulator OFCOM suggest that’s unlikely.

In the meantime, we’ll have to console ourselves with Nokia’s two other high-tech phones – in the middle of the picture above we have the  N71, a 3G handset with a large 2.4in display for web browsing (using the new Nokia Web Broswer, which is based on Apple’s Safari) and a 2 megapixel camera.

On the right-hand side we have the N80, a Wi-Fi handset that takes the pain out of wireless networking by incorporating Universal Plug’n’Play (UPnP). Which means you should be able to stream recorded TV programmes to your handset or wirelessly share your camphone photos and videos with your home entertainment kit.

Both the N71 and N80 will be available in the first quarter of 2006.

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