[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Help
Click

MORE PROGRAMMES

Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 14:53 GMT
Mobile trends of 2007
BBC Click's Dan Simmons
By Dan Simmons
Reporter, BBC Click

Trying to work out what will fly on mobile phones is a tricky business. While music has had some success, video is having a tougher time.

NXP image processor
The NXP image processor fills in "missing" frames

Processors are now able to handle 30 frames per second, but video is so data-rich that limited bandwidth means many services stream at just 10 or 15 frames a second, which is half of what we're used to on proper telly.

2007 promises much more. New, dedicated image processors fill in any "missing" frames by using the images either side.

The NXP one quadruples the number of frames you see, giving a smoother result. The chip also sharpens the picture, and adjusts the backlight for each shot to save battery power.

Needing fewer frames to achieve a TV-like experience will mean cheaper data charges for us, and a more reliable service.

Especially when you consider that 3G bandwidth struggles to provide full frame rates to more than half a dozen phones in one area or cell, and even the higher speed HSDPA networks will only cope with around 20-25 simultaneous users.

Live TV

Another reason we might start watching our mobiles is live broadcast mobile TV. It has taken off in Japan and South Korea, but for the rest of us it has just been a promise for several years.

TV on a mobile phone
Mobiles in South Korea offer a variety of TV channels

With the right handset, much of Western Europe can get a broadcast service. Crucially for the fashion-conscious, TV phones are getting smaller.

Next month US consumers will be able to get their hands on one of the first models able to access Qualcomm's new MediaFLO TV service.

The company says the service will cover a larger area and more people than any other mobile TV service in the world. All with an electronic programme guide and a monthly subscription.

Jerry Hanley, of Qualcomm, told us: "We're finding people are really excited about this. People want the same experience on their phones as they have at their house. They want to be able to watch the channels they know and love."

Have you ever looked up a number on your mobile and then used another handset to make the call? Perhaps you do not get great reception in the office, or it is simply cheaper to use a landline.

The use of wi-fi networks may now solve that dilemma.

Call charges

Just two years ago some analysts said mobile operators' business models were hanging by a thread and predicted that we would all be using our internet connections to make cheap or even free calls by now.

Today the networks are beginning to embrace that technology. Orange is one of the first in Europe to offer a home wi-fi hub for cheaper internet calling using your mobile, as Sanjiv Ahura, from Orange, told us.

3GSM
A round-up of all the best video clips to come out of Barcelona's mobile phone fair.

"When you go three or six walls deep inside a home or office building, today the best way to provide coverage there is through wi-fi. Tomorrow it may be a different technology.

"We want to make sure you have the same number, same phone, same voicemail system, same content accessible."

In the UK, British Telecom has gone a stage further by offering a seamless transfer of your voice call from the cell network to wi-fi whenever you enter one of their wi-fi hotspots.

Cleverly, rather than charging you less for a cheaper internet-routed call, the deal gives you extra talk time, therefore maintaining the company's revenues.

While using wi-fi to place internet calls on a mobile has been available for several years, 2007 promises simple integration, provided by established operators, and using familiar handsets.

"It's automatic for the customer," explains Dave Hughes of Wireless Broadband.

"There's no messing about with network settings. When you find a hot spot the service simply switches from GSM to wi-fi."

Sat-nav

Just as TV and wi-fi are starting to become available on high-end handsets, so is satellite navigation.

There has been a move away from having to carry a separate satellite receiver with your handset towards everything being built into the phone.

Nokia recently announced that it is going to enter the market with the Navigator phone. Users will be able to purchase downloadable maps as they need them with detailed information about services which are close by.

Other phones will offer actual satellite pictures of the area.

The TWIG GPS phone offers a one-touch alarm button which automatically sends a text message with your location to a pre-determined number.

It can also be paired to another one so they can track each other, which will be useful for keeping tabs on family or friends.

Sat-nav is a power-hungry application, although the handset manufacturers I spoke to all claim a battery life of around four hours. GPS also ups the cost of the handset by around $150 (77) without a contract.

Fastap keypad design
Fastap is an innovative approach to keypad design

While TV, wi-fi and GPS are all settling in for a mobile future there are a few new ideas knocking around too.

Seagate reckon we will need a spare hard disk to stream all that content we will be hoarding.

A 20GB model, available later this year, links to any number of phones which have Bluetooth or wi-fi connectivity.

A larger 60GB model is promised. Useful when you swap phones or have more than one, but with flash storage cards reaching 8GB or more will we want to carry a $200 (103) box around?

Fingerprint recognition will move on to the mobile handset from next month for added security, thanks to Toshiba.

The handset can even be paired to your laptop using Bluetooth so if you walk away it locks your notebook.

Fastap has a different take on the traditional phone keypad could speed up your texting. Raised keys between the numbers keep the model slim and do away with the need for multiple key presses.

After being in development for a while it is already on two LG models in the US, with phone releases in Mexico and East Europe next on the company's list.



SEE ALSO
Living the converged media life
14 Feb 07 |  Business
Sunshine duo make mobile movie
13 Feb 07 |  Technology
Everything but the iPhone
12 Feb 07 |  Technology
Talk moves on at mobile congress
12 Feb 07 |  Technology
Mobile hardware goes on show
17 Feb 06 |  Click

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


banner watch listen bbc sport Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific