Tube gets tiny with Personal Television

Qualcomm device 'optimized for mobile video'

Live TV on cell phones is so yesterday.

Coming in time for Christmas is a wireless, handheld TV that's just a TV, and it will have its own dedicated network to ensure everything runs smoothly. Plans call for DVR functionality down the road.

The new FLO TV Personal Television, or PTV, is from FLO TV, the live mobile TV service from Qualcomm that is used for AT&T Mobile Television and Verizon's V-Cast.

The PTV will sell for $250, and subcriptions begin at $9 a month. FLO TV isn't saying yet what content it has lined up, but the AT&T and V-Cast products have 15 channels apiece, including CBS Mobile, CNBC, Comedy Central, ESPN Mobile, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, MTV and Nickelodeon.

Some of the content is simulcast live, then repeated in what might normally be considered affiliate time, said Jonathan Barzilay, senior vp programming and advertising for FLO TV. "Late Show With David Letterman," for example, is on at its usual 11:30 p.m. weeknight slot, then replayed at noon the following day.

FLO TV launched as a service on cell phones about 18 months ago but uses different towers than those used for phones.

"It's discreet from the cell network and optimized for mobile video," Barzilay said. "The network has been built for continuous service through major corridors," including some tunnels and underground parking.

Market research firm TeleAnalytics predicts that the broadcast mobile TV market will serve 50 million users in North America in 2013, generating $2.8 billion in revenue.

The PTV measures 4.4 inches by 3 inches and is a half-inch thick. Touch-screen technology allows users to channel surf with a swipe of the finger.

Barzilay says PTV is designed, in part, to appeal to parents who might want to keep their children busy with television while out and about while not having to surrender their phones to their youngsters. Also, with most models that combine phones and TV, a phone call interrupts programming.

Barzilay said an in-car model also is coming through a partnership with Audiovox at Christmastime for about $119 a year. The PTVs with DVRs should come some time after that.