At this point you’re probably thinking that my aforementioned disappointment stems from the sky high price point associated with Cell TV, but you’d be wrong. The price doesn’t surprise me, and in many ways it’s justified. In fact, I can still remember when the first commercially available plasma TV was demonstrated to me – it carried a price point of £11,000 and it didn’t stop every journalist in the room wanting one. No, my disappointment stems from the fact that even when Cell TV launches in the UK it simply won’t offer the kind of experience that it should.
Rightly or wrongly, premium television in the UK is, to a certain degree, dictated by Sky. Now, I’ll openly admit that the BBC provides some superb viewing options, but if you’re looking to watch the latest season of 24, Lost or House in high definition, you’re going to have to sign up to Sky. That in itself isn’t a major issue, but what is an issue is that if you want to watch Sky content, you’ll have to use Sky’s hardware.
So, despite Cell TV’s tour de force of technology, anyone who does stump up the cash will find the amount of functionality that’s actually usable, quite limited. Even when Freeview+ HD launches later this year, you’re only going to have four high definition channels at your disposal, so Cell TV’s eight tuner party piece will be somewhat pointless. This probably means that the Cell TV boxes sold in the UK will ship with four DVB-T2 Freeview+ HD tuners, rather than eight.
Of course Cell TV is crying out for Sky HD integration. When you’ve got a TV as advanced as this one, you want to be feeding it the best and most extensive source of high definition content, and in the UK, that means Sky. The problem is that the only way to get Sky HD onto your TV is via Sky’s own set top box, which pretty much defeats the whole purpose of Cell TV.
But surely even Sky can see that a product like Cell TV is the perfect partner for its ever expanding high definition offering. And if anyone at Sky has been doing their homework, they’d realise that Cell TV would make a great halo product for the Sky HD service. Just imagine a Sky HD bundle with eight HD feeds and a Cell TV to receive them all! Even if it cost five or six grand plus the subscription fee, there would surely be interest – just the Premiership footballers alone could surely justify the offering.
In all honesty it’s unlikely that Sky would take on something like Cell TV unless it could be branded as its own hardware, and quite rightly, I can’t imagine Toshiba agreeing to such a move. That said, I sincerely hope that Toshiba and Sky do come to some kind of agreement, because without it, I fear that Cell TV’s talents will be squandered.