Watch live and on-demand TV on your iPhone

Nope, it's not the long-awaited Hulu app. It's MobiTV, and it's a winner. Eight live channels, dozens of on-demand shows that are actually worth watching, and reasonable rates.

MobiTV offers eight channels of live TV and more than 30 on-demand channels. Rick Broida

Hulu who? If you've been waiting to watch your favorite shows on your iPhone, wait no more: the new MobiTV app streams both live and on-demand television content.

What kind of content? Oh, let's see, there's "Caprica," "Castle," "The Colbert Report," "Community," "Cougar Town," and "CSI"--and that's just the shows starting with "C." Needless to say, the on-demand selection is impressive.

As for live channels, MobiTV offers ABC, CNBC, The Disney Channel, ESPN, and MSNBC, among others.

The interface seems a little busy at first, but ultimately you can find everything you need by tapping either the Live Channels or On Demand button. And once you start streaming a show, one tap toggles between full-screen viewing and the menu overlay. After just a couple minutes of tinkering, I'd mastered the interface.

I tested MobiTV on both Wi-Fi and 3G networks. Video played just about flawlessly over Wi-Fi, and when the 3G coverage was at five bars, I noticed only an occasional stutter and slight degradation of video quality. In both cases, shows were very watchable.

When I dropped down to EDGE, however, images turned grainy and the playback halted from time to time. Verdict: not good.

"Rocky & Bullwinkle" is one of MobiTV's decent selection of free shows. Rick Broida

Your mileage may vary, of course, but I'd say that as long as you've got a decent Wi-Fi or 3G connection, you should enjoy pretty fluid close-to-full-screen video.

At what cost? The MobiTV app is free, and there's enough free content inside for you to take a solid test drive before making a subscription decision. The freebies include the ABC News Now channel, some stand-up comedy shows, news clips from Fox and NBC, and even a few cartoon gems like "Mr. Magoo" and "Rocky & Bullwinkle."

MobiTV's in-app subscription options: $9.99 for one month, $24.99 for three months, and $44.99 for six months. That may seem a little steep, but consider what you typically pay for just one month of cable. And all three plans are good for unlimited viewing.

Indeed, the only really bad news here is that MobiTV isn't compatible with the iPod Touch--or the iPad. According to a company rep, support for the latter is in the works, but he couldn't say when it would be available.

Even so, if you like TV and you own an iPhone, you're likely to love MobiTV.

 

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