Samsung builds TV reception into newest phone

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has built a TV reception function into its latest handset for its domestic market. The handset allows users to watch TV for no charge, unlike the subscription-based video-on-demand services being launched or in trial by several cellular carriers.

The SCH-X820 includes a TV tuner that allows reception of local VHF and UHF channels via the same broadcast signals that are picked up by domestic television sets. The TV images are displayed on the phone’s TFT (thin film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) screen and can be viewed with the screen either horizontally or vertically, the Seoul-based company said in a statement.

The main display has a resolution of 176 pixels by 200 pixels and can display 262,000 colors. It is supplemented with an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) sub-display on the outside of the clamshell design handset. The sub-display has a resolution of 96 pixels by 64 pixels and can display 256 colors.

In addition to watching television, the phone is also capable of capturing and recording a snippet of video from the broadcast. Its capture function will record up to 50 frames of video from the television signal and save it in the handset memory for use as a screen saver or background image on the phone.

An earphone can be used to listen to the TV broadcasts so as not to disturb others and the standard battery has enough power to allow for around two hours of TV viewing. That’s enough for a soccer match or an average-length movie and a long-life battery, offering enough power for four hours of continuous use, is also available. Standby life is up to 190 hours on the standard battery and up to 385 hours on the long-life battery.

Other features of the SCH-X820, which is compatible with the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) 2000 1x cellular standard, include a 40-polyphonic ring tone, wireless Internet access and Java support.

The handset measures 91 millimeters by 50 millimeters by 25 millimeters and weighs 121 grams. It will go on sale next week in South Korea for between 600,000 won (US$501) and 700,000 won. Samsung had no immediate plans to put the phone on sale overseas.

Samsung’s new handset is the latest in a line of cellular telephones announced in the last year that feature the ability to show video of some sort.

Many handsets in Japan are capable of recording, playback and e-mail of short videos captured with built-in cameras. The function was first launched in March 2002 by J-Phone Co. Ltd. as an upgrade to the popular picture mail service and has been replicated by its major two competitors.

Handsets supporting the third-generation (3G) services that have been launched in several Asian and European countries, support a video phone function and can also access video-on-demand through wireless Internet services, although these features rely on the telephone network to transmit the video and come with a per-minute charge, unlike the TV viewing function on Samsung’s new handset.