CNET First Look
FLO TVFor television fanatics, FLO TV delivers a constant stream of subscription TV channels packed into a pocket-size, touch-screen device.
>> Hey, I'm Donald Bell for cnet.com, and today you're getting a first look at the FLO TV portable television. This a pocket-sized video player with a 3.5-inch touch screen made specifically for tuning in FLO's own mobile television signal. It doesn't use Wi-Fi or a cellular connection but actually gets a signal over part of the old UHS spectrum. There's a power button on the top along with a rechargeable battery indicator and on the side is a headphone jack, volume control, mute button, and a micro-USB input for recharging with the included power adapter. There are two speakers built into the back here along with a kickstand for hands-free viewing. The device costs $199 which includes six months of FLO subscription television right out of the box. After six months you'll need to pay $14.99 a month to continue service. Otherwise, the device is pretty much useless. There's no internal memory. You can't load on your own content. There's no FM tuner. It is purely a device for tuning in FLO subscription TV service. Fortunately, the FLO TV service is pretty cool. You get around 16 channels ranging for ESPN and Fox news, to MTV and Comedy Central. Pressing the one button on the front brings up a channel guide where you can flip through the broadcast and select the one you want to watch or schedule a reminder for an upcoming show. There's no pause button, no recording, and no on-demand services here. You just tune in and see what you get. For better or for worse, the channels aren't identical to the live broadcast you'd see on TV. Mostly, you're getting the best of what one channel has to offer but repurposed for the daytime. For example, it's around three o'clock here, and we have the Early Show playing on CBS and American Dad playing on Fox. Most of the content plays with commercials. However, the breaks seem shorter and typically advertise only other shows. So why buy one? It's a tough question, especially with an 8GB iPod Touch out there for $199 with ala cart commercial-free TV shows and literally hundreds of other uses. Really, it comes down to how much do you love TV, and how much free time do you need to kill? For $15 a month and always on stream with interesting TV content you can take anywhere, can eat up a whole lot of down time that $15 in the iTunes store just can't match. Still, I'm not crazy about the idea this is a single purpose device. For $200 it needs to do more stuff, the video quality needs to be better, and the screen's viewing angles could use an improvement too. The company's already announced plans to bring their service to the iPhone and iPod Touch this year which I think makes a whole lot more sense than a dedicated device. For cnet.com I'm Donald Bell and this was a first look at the FLO TV.