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First Look: Kula TV

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First Look: Kula TV

2:36 /

The Kula TV is a neat concept plagued by cheap construction, a half-baked user interface, and poor performance.

[ music ] ^M00:00:03 >> Hey, I'm Donald Bell for CNET.com and today we're taking a first look at the Kula TV. This is a touch screen portable TV priced at $199 that streams video over a WiFi Internet Connection. You get access to over 400 channels from all over the world, and all of the content is free. The premise is pretty neat, but the execution needs some help. Design wise you get a 4.3 inch screen with decent viewing angles, but it's a little dim and there's no way to adjust the brightness. On the top you have buttons for volume and power, and a fold out antenna that, one seems a little odd for a WiFi device, two doesn't help much with reception, and three uses a fragile plastic design. You may as well glue this thing down and pretend it isn't there. On the back there's a speaker and a reset switch. And on the side is a headphone jack, micro SD slot, USB port, and a socket for the included power adapter, which you'll need for charging the internal battery. You also get 2 gigabytes of internal memory, which you can use to load up photos, music, or videos, though the sound quality isn't great, and videos lack any kind of control for pause, skip, or rewind. As far as the interface goes, they kept things simple with only 4 options on the main menu, streaming TV, stored media, clock, and settings. The settings page really only has one useful option for configuring the WiFi connection, but it works and it gives you a little keyboard for inputting passwords. We wish that same keyboard would have made its way to the TV section though, as a way for searching through all the stations for something worth watching. Instead, stations are listed by language, location, or category, which can make for a lot of trial and error. For example, to look up a local California station I can select USA. But then all the stations for Alaska, Arizona, California, and other states get lumped together. Once you've selected a station it will buffer and play after a few seconds, but video quality is unpredictable and sometimes choppy to the point of being unwatchable even when signal strength is good. Our experience overall was disappointing. For the same price an iPod Touch includes more features, better design, and arguably offers just as much free video content when you factor in podcasts and video apps. You also have the option to buy and directly download premium TV content on an iPod Touch, which is something that the Kula TV doesn't offer. So that's the Kula TV from Sungale. We like the idea of taking the worlds free streaming TV content and putting it in your pocket. But for this price, the hardware and the UI just doesn't cut it. For CNET.com I'm Donald Bell. ^M00:02:33 [ music ] ^E00:02:35

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