It’s that time of year when we go broke buying presents for people we like, people we don’t like and even people nobody likes. What better gift than a gadget? So to make gift decisions a little easier — or at least funnier — here are some ideas culled from the newest, coolest and oddest mobile TV devices available. All of these can actually be purchased, although some are only to be found in the cobwebby corners of eBay and craigslist.
Multifunction devices: From the space age to the Stone Age with TV phones, media players and even wristwatches
DVB-H-capable and equipped with a DVR and OMA BCAST ESG, the new Nokia 5330 is not a mobile TV device, it’s an entertainment hub. A worldwide rollout is set for the next 12 to 18 months, but you can go to countries like Italy and Namibia to enjoy the Nokia 5330 today.
Raise your hand if there isn’t a Sony Watchman collecting dust somewhere in your house. Surprisingly enough, the Watchman hasn’t died; it has morphed into theNW-X1000 Walkman personal media player. Along with touch screen, noise-canceling, OLED screen and WiFi, the NW-X1000 features an ISDB-T 1-seg TV receiver. Currently only available in Japan, there's no word about Sony's plans for other mobile TV standards.
Samsung’s YP-CM3 PMP was also introduced this year. CMMB compatible for the Chinese market, the device features a large 3in, 400 × 240-pixel screen and plays MP4, AVI and SVI video codecs. Equipped with an external speaker, FM radio tuner, voice recorder and e-book reader, the YP-CM3 could just be the only entertainment you'll ever need.
Human-RH's HDPF-760D digital photo frame TVcombines the all-purpose tchotchke and grab bag gift with several actually useful features: TV, WiFi and e-book reader. With a 7.6in AMOLED display, the HDPF-760D is available supporting ISDB-T 1-seg, T-DMB, DVB-T and CMMB.
Last of its species, there are still someearly-2000sNHJ Wristwatch TVs in circulation. I located this one on the Toronto craigslist. The watch features a 1.5in color monitor with 280 x 220 pixels and receives VHF and UHF channels — the only catch is that those are analog channels. But it's still usable in the 75 percent of the world that still watches analog TV.
Mobile TV-equipped netbooks: Now distraction isn't limited to Web surfing
The Inventec Rainbow is an NVIDIA Tegra-based netbook with a 1080p HDTV receiver supporting DVB-T, ISDB-T, DVB-H, DAB, T-DMB and CMMB. With an ultra-low-power GPU, the unit is about as thin as a dime.
Dell is currently offering a deal on the Inspiron Mini 10v netbook with a free, built-in ATSC-M/H TV tuner. Priced at $499 and customizable, the Mini 10v and is said to ship in time for Christmas.
Get goggled: Mobile TV receiver/players and accessories
Designed to receive QUALCOMM’s FLO TV service, the FLO TV Personal Television has a 3.5in diagonal screen, measures 4.4in x 3in x .5in and weighs just more than 5oz. The catch is that you have to sign up for an $8.99 prepaid one- or three-year subscription.
Claiming to be the world's smallest wearable TV set, Scalar Impressive Works' Teleglass T3-F HMD offers the latest cyborg eyewear — and only requires one eye. With a virtual 28in screen that projects through a device that you attach to your glasses, it's the perfect accessory for Terminator retrospectives, Star Trek conventions or visits to the Delta Quadrant. Available in Japan, priced from $300 up to $1200 depending on features.
IMovee's Touch Telly N430 features a 4.3in, 16:9 ratio aspect touch screen with a built-in mobile DVB-T/CMMB TV tuner. It even has a GPS in case you wander into trackless, post-apocalyptic wastelands while you’re watching reruns of “House.”
In 20 years, people will laugh uproariously at the very concept of iMovee’s Cineplus, new video goggle technology. But look on the bright side: it’s wireless and compatible with every cell phone that has a video function plus media players such as iPods and Zunes. Cineplus supports a wide range of mobile TV standards including DVB T/H, DMB, ATSC, ISDB T, CMMB and MediaFLO.
The future isn’t bright enough to make iMovee’s AIBO video goggles look cool. AIBO goggles support analog video standards NTSC, PAL and SECAM, provide a virtual 80in screen, and can be used with prescription glasses for your driving-while-watching pleasure. The AIBO even has noise-canceling technology, so you’ll never have to listen to the snickers behind your back.
If private viewing isn't your thing, let the world share your viewing tastes with Microvision's Pico Projector. Giving whole new meaning to the phrase “elevator pitch,” the laser Pico Projector combines a slim pocket size with the power to project large DVD-resolution images and offers a plug-and-play projector for mobile TV, movies, photos and presentations. TV out and VGA plugs let you connect to PMPs, mobile phones, notebooks and other mobile media devices.
Editor's note: Because I'm not a gadget person, I enlisted the help of my multiple-personality-disordered product review team, the freelance writer who blogs at Repeal Gravity, Open.salon and CNN iReport. In his day job, he champions the rights of people with disabilities.