Nonetheless, with the handset reporting 71MB of available storage out of the box, if you have any intention playing digital music through Windows Media Player you are going to want to add memory.
The expansion medium selected is microSD cards. Regular readers will know I am not the greatest fan of this format because it is so very tiny. I’m doubly irritated in the case of the Lobster 700TV to find that the slot is not only under the battery but also under your SIM card. Yep, you need to power down, take the battery out and take you SIM out to swap cards. What on Earth is HTC thinking of, designing a memory expansion system like this when end users are likely to want to hot swap cards to get music in and out of their handset?
Still I guess what you really want to know about is the TV and DAB radio capabilities and performance. The service comes courtesy of BT Movio. TV-wise you get BBC1, ITV1, Channel 4 and E4. But note: Channel 4 is just showing its Short Cuts service, a made for mobile TV channel, and the BBC service is available only on a 12 month trial basis. Some American, film and sports content will be missing according to BT’s announcement of its Movio service.
For both TV and radio you have to have the stereo headset plugged in, as this contains the antenna. It is truly annoying that this has a 2.5mm jack with no provided converter to 3.5mm, and that the jack is on the bottom edge of the casing. As for performance, I had no trouble picking up TV broadcasts – though I didn’t have an opportunity to test the system in fast moving situations such as when on a train.
Rendering to the screen was fine once the initial buffering processor was completed, which only took a couple of seconds. There were some periods when the handset re-buffered data, but these were few and far between during testing. Broadcasts seem to be about 20 seconds behind what I was able to pick up on an ordinary TV.
The seven day programme guide isn’t as neatly implemented as I’d have liked – you have to scroll through time in half hour slots. So if you want to see what is on tomorrow at the same time you are watching now, you need to do quite a lot of pressing of the navigation button, which takes time and is quite annoying. You can set reminders to watch a particular channel at a particular time.
When it comes to DAB radio I had access to not far short of the maximum of 50 stations in my test area in deepest South London. The number available to you will depend on where you live, just as it does with DAB generally. Meanwhile, the TV On/Off button doubles as a provider of quick access to interactive services provided via the Web where these are available.
I did two battery tests on the Lobster 700TV. An ordinary MP3 rundown test playing music from a miniSD card and with the screen forced to stay on gave me eight and a quarter hours of music and battery life, which is on the upside of average. I also did a continuous TV playback test and got a shade over three hours of viewing from a full battery. You are, then, going to have to limit your viewing while out and about.
I am in two minds about the Lobster 700TV. Yes, it has all the capabilities of a Windows Mobile Smartphone, with TV and DAB radio thrown in. But the number of TV stations it handles is small – which is why I’ve given it such a low value rating – and I can’t really see myself wanting to squint at its screen for long. Surely nobody is that addicted to TV that they can’t video something to watch later on a bigger screen?