11 January, 2010

SFR TV on Google phone

SFR lent me a Google Phone (an HTC Magic which came out last spring, not the new one that hit the headlines in January and is still being waited for in France) to test their TV application.

Verdict: it works, but... 
The idea is good. Choice of 3G or wifi to view streamed TV in pretty good quality. Anyone sceptical about watching TV on a tiny mobile screen will be pleasantly surprised. It can be viewed either horizontally or vertically (the accelerometer automatically switches to the right setting). The angle subtended by the 3 inch screen at handheld distance is in fact considerably bigger than watching a 29 inch TV at the other end of the sitting room, which the crystal clear picture suits well. Some 20 channels provided (TF1, France2, France3, M6, Direct8, W9, TMC, NT1, NRJ, France4, BFM-TV, Gong, Manga, RTL9, and 5 versions of MTV unless I missed some. No France5 though). Of course you can also watch videos from Youtube and other web sites.SFR have coupled this with a package providing unlimited access that really does mean unlimited - unlike their rival Orange, some of whose subscribers have had nasty surprises when the bills arrived. However, being a free trial, I was unable to check this for myself.

International use
I also tried to use the service while in the UK.  Roaming had not been activated on the demo account - but you would have to be really keen not to miss an episode of your favourite series to pay the kind of charges that would incur. Unless someone else is paying of course. The TV didn't work via wifi either. This may have been through checking the location of the IP address, or some other reason, as the same error message appears. For some reason Android forbids apps from changing the system proxy directly. While there are Android web browser apps (e.g. ProxySurf) that support it, they won't work with the TV app.

would have been a very expensive way of watching TV
The big but is the patchy nature of 3G coverage. Wifi coverage is even worse. So you can be antisocial and watch the TV while sitting in a cafe with wifi or 3G. But our attempts to watch on the French side of the Eurostar were a resounding failure. Completely impossible to watch Plus belle la vie. A couple of scenes flitted in, only to be cut off again with the message that there was no signal. Presumable the device is just as useless to try to amuse the kids on a long car journey. I didn't try it in the metro (the Paris transit authority has conveniently installed GSM antennas in the tunnels) because I didn't want to risk having it snatched.
Even static reception wasn't all that could be desired. A plane delay at Charles de Gaulle Airport should have provided an ideal use for it, but no. Probably to the releif of my fellow passengers, as SFR had not supplied an earpiece for personal reception and it was incompatible with any that I had, including recent bluetooth models.

So, finally, the only use I could find for it was as a second TV at home, to watch in the kitchen and the toilet.

04 January, 2010

Neuf GW3 hybrid wifi phone

I recently fished out my Neuf GW3 hybrid wifi phone because a friend needed a phone while visiting Paris.
When I tried to set up the VOIP, it turns out the files were no longer available on the SFR web site - a victim of Neuf''s acquisition by SFR no doubt. Fortunately I had a copy on an old computer.

Briefly, it would be a nice phone if it wasn't locked into the Neuf firmware. Camera, IPTV support, slot for micro SD card. And of course, SIP.
The only way of installing new SIP accounts seems to be via the configuration file.
I was able to install a non-Neuf SIP - an old Wengo and a Webcalldirect (Betamax) - account via the configuration software, but the phone can only handle one SIP account at a time.

IPTV. According to a report in a user forum, an active Wengo account can be used to reactivate the TV rights. This is quite probable, as Wengo had been acquired by Neuf and Neuf uses the Wengo address for its activation, as can be seen in looking at Neuf's configuration software.
In any case, it doesn't work now.
.But SFR are streaming TV for the Android and iPhone. Pity they don't take care of their existing customers!

Here are a couple of links:
Pervasive network
Open Twin
Configuration software