Mobility Digest Review: SPB TV 2.0 as free and awesome as ever.
SPB is one of my favorite software makers. Mobile Shell is an awesome program that I’ve used quite a bit. Today I’m going to go through the new version of SPB TV 2.0, an IPTV program for streaming a huge number of television channels straight to your phone. SPB was nice enough to provide us with a copy to review and I’m happy to report that the program worked great and provided a nice distraction from work with the Beverly Hillbillies. The program itself is very solid and well made and suffers from only a couple of issues that I’ll get into later. Let’s start with a few interesting design ideas that really make the program stand out.
The first thing that really sets SPB TV 2.0 apart from all the other IPTV solutions is their channel system. Most programs for TV streaming give you live feeds of the shows as you flip through channels. The problem is that these streaming tv channels take like four or five seconds to buffer up where you can see what the hell is going on. SPB solves this issue by giving you thumbnails of the video that update every so often. This allows you to have the illusion of channel surfing without having to sit through the buffer ever time you want to see what is on another channel. The interface is both quick and smooth. SPB has made sure this program runs lightning fast, even on my three year old Fuze.
This thing has channels for days. Some are slight variations of one another like a collection of Fox stations from around the US. Many are public access or publicly funded stuff but this is on par with other TV services. It does include some pretty awesome old-school sci-fi and horror channels that were a blast of nostalgia into my day. It had a decent comedy channel as well that seemed to load up stuff on demand. The number of channels is definitely impressive but with one issue. SPB, being a Russian software maker, have included a crap-ton of channels from all over the world. We’re talking English, Russian, Italian, French, and others. This is nice if you happen to be octolingual and all but for those of us English only people it just puts a lot of useless channels on your list to flip through. SPB was insightful enough to include the ability to remove channels and even denotes their country of origin making it easier, BUT (this is one of my only problems with the program itself) it does not give you a way to sort them by language. This would make the program much quicker to setup and have a more tailored experience.
The free-ness of the whole thing makes the biggest break from the older versions we’ve seen. The whole ad-supported business usually makes me cringe. From what I’ve seen so far the company only seems to be advertising their own products but in a manner that is totally unobtrusive. While the phone is working up its video buffer SPB gives you a still image of one of its own products, some key take-aways, and a link to download. This is the only place you will see ads throughout the entire program. No lines of text across the bottom of my screen. No banners across the top or breaks in programming to serve you ads based on what channels your watching. Just straight forward pictures that go up for about 2 or 3 seconds while the video buffers. It’s not like you can do anything else with your screen during this time anyway. It’s the perfect system to rake in some cash and not piss off your end user. I am the biggest ad skeptic on the staff and this didn’t bother me at all. It’s when they start taking away my usable space and interrupting my usage that makes my blood boil through my skin and out my eyeballs.
A few other design choices that make a hell of a difference in usage are the bits of information it brings to the user from within the program. While watching any channel the user can tap anywhere on the screen to bring up an onscreen menu (pic on right). As you can see you get the battery and time info from within the program and get maximum screen use for video. Clicking on that little matrix on the left brings up the guide while continuing to stream your current channel to you. The arrow following that allows you to change the quality from low to high. Even with okay 3G coverage I was able to stream the high quality feed with no problems at all. The low quality didn’t look too bad unless it was older black and white programming, such as said billies of the hills mentioned above. Obviously you’ve got volume next to that followed by a button to take you back to the main guide. I also want to mention the program’s ability to schedule reminders for television shows as somewhat of a cool feature but also sort of out of place. I can’t tell you when I have ever been in a situation where I desperately need my cell phone to watch something coming on television but it’s nice that it’s there.
All in all it’s a great program to have in your phone if you’re prone to boredom and like watching old TV or news. To pick it up for FREE, yes that’s right, FREE go HERE for the desktop installer or the .CAB.
wait, so they’re giving it away for free to everyone now?? SWEET!
Looks cool. Downloaded for my Tilt2. Crashed on each of the first two channels, one in loading the channel and again on NASA after I managed to get 3 secs of play time.
Installed on flash card – not main memory. 4mb size. Not sure if install location makes a difference.
Installed on my HD2 and works awesome… I tested both low and high quality, over wifi, EDGE, and 3(cough)G connection…
Great review Matt!!!!!!
Installed program on my AT$T HTC tilt2 on the storage card.
SO FAR, the program is working. pretty cool.
Ok, I lied. The program crashes a lot and I have to keep going back to restart it. But once I have a channel running, it does a great job. The picture quality is better than I had thought.
Thank you SPB, I can live with the crashes for a free program!
SPB does a good job of compatibility testing their stuff. I haven’t loaded it to my storage card because I keep mine pretty full of tunes and TV, along with any .cabs I’d ever need should I have to do a hard reset in the field, but this can certainly affect the apps ability to run in a stable way. Try installing to phone’s memory and you should be good.
It works really well, and is a lot better than online tv or the streaming widget. It’s just too bad that 90+% of the streaming channels out there are garbage. At least spb filtered out most of the total crap (but thanks for st petersburg tv, not sure what I’d do without their city council meetings).
What!!!!!!! Not even a mention that they have an Android version also?
I will say for the record that the free lite version works on my Archos tablet. That being said, there are only a half dozen sites available for free and they are not in English. This could be because the Archos is a French device and there may be location based operations going on in the background. Also, if any Archos user who may be reading this and wish to use the application, it works best in full screen mode.,
@Bryan – Sorry about that double B. The copy we got from SPB is for WinMo only. The Android version didn’t get the update from what the press release was mentioning. The Android version is still operating on the Pro and Lite versions, indicating it’s still on the older distribution platform. Also, I have a Fuze, because AT&T has no decent phones and I’m poor. But yes, they have an Android and an Iphone version available if that’s your flavor but you’re going to be rocking the 1.0 version. They didn’t give me a change log so I’m not 100% on the changes but the channel/guide system they have is far better than its original version. If you want a rundown of the iPhone/Android versions you can check out the original review we did here:http://mobilitydigest.com/spb-releases-spb-tv-10/
Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was just bust your nuts, personally I can’t use the app for the simple reason, that I can barley speak and read English and I’ve been trying to do that for my whole life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Been using their licensed version (oh well) on my Fuze / Storage Card for many months and it has always worked fine. Not the best selection of channels, but they always work. Opened it last night to see if they were pushing a new licensed version (still at 1.2.2) and I was reminded that any new users might want to reconsider downgrading to the new AT&T 2MB for $25 plan for now. Chewed through about 37MB of data in about 10-15 minutes of channel surfing.
And, BTW, changelog info:
Version 2.0 (Jun 8, 2010):
•Video-on-Demand channels added
•High quality h264/AVC streams supported
•Hardware video acceleration support improved
•Advertising added into opening screen
•Backlight supported for new devices
@Jimski – Much appreciated. SPB used to be on top of their shit over at spbclub.com but they abandoned it when everyone kept complaining about release dates. Now all that info gets scattered all over the place in inconsistent press releases and tweets. Channels always kind of suck on free TV but there are definitely some okay stuff if, like I said, you’re into old TV classics, Public access (although sadly no “Dancing Guy”) and news.
They will update Android version for free 2.0 also. But we have to wail some time.