At the IFA tech show in Berlin -- the playground every nation is invited to play in -- we get to put our hands on some of the toys all the cool Japanese kids already have. Today, we played with future mobile TV handsets from Sharp. The W51SH is a mobile phone like any other clamshell, inasmuch as it'll make calls, browse the Web and take pictures with a 2-megapixel camera. But check out that swivelling 16:9-format TV screen!
In between demonstrations of its unfathomably thin HDTVs, which rise out of their own cabinets, and product-unveiling ceremonies of epic proportions complete with their own light shows, Sharp showed us the future of mobile TV. The screen itself swivels from its traditional clamshell design into the form you can see in the photo.
The screen is incredibly crisp. The TV pictures you see are not sent over GPRS or 3G; they're coming live over the airwaves from state-of-the-art television broadcasting towers. We in GB haven't agreed on a standard for mobile digital TV broadcasts, and we're not going to get handsets like these until we do.
Sharp told us the successors to these phone models (there were several very similar handsets to the W51SH on display) will be the ones we'll get to see when a digital broadcasting standard is reached. The company claims it doesn't intend to leave us Brits out of all the fun once we get something akin to Japan's broadcasting infrastructure.
Expect more IFA goodies soon, but true mobile TV in this country a little later. Maybe a lot later. Who knows? -Nate Lanxon