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HTC takes tablet movies service onto next generation of phones

HTC says that its HTC Watch movie service will first be enabled on its new handset, just out, the high spec HTC Sensation, and that it will be carried

By PETER WHITE

Published: 14 April, 2011

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HTC says that its HTC Watch movie service will first be enabled on its new handset, just out, the high spec HTC Sensation, and that it will be carried at both Vodafone in the UK and T-Mobile in the US, day one.

HTC Watch has been a long time coming. Back in 2004 Saffron Digital launched at video service for Vodafone, and since then it has teamed up with a number of handset makers including Samsung and Sony Ericsson, and has worked with HTC on a T-Mobile film service in the past.

Back in February HTC made was is described as a “strategic investment” in London’s Saffron Digital, not full ownership, but a substantial amount of cash so that Saffron can begin building more ties in the Far East.

This of course is going to give HTC a close view of what Saffron is up to, and while HTC Watch looks not much more sexy in technological terms than the phone viewing services Saffron has built for NBC Universal and for Warner Brothers – it’s claim to fame is that it can work with a downloadable DRM, and it has a partnership with Widevine, now Google owned, for this, and for its adaptive streaming technology. However strictly speaking HTC Watch is not a streaming app, instead it uses progressive download, which means that the application calculates how large a buffer it needs to build to complete a video download, while still playing. That buffer can be as little as a few seconds, and it can then ensure that the download continues in the background while you are viewing a movie, without pausing.

By definition this cannot use adaptive streaming because that changes the nature of the stream to suit the network, whereas progressive download establishes a set video quality and decides how fast it can download – two totally different approaches, and one we think that Saffron has built itself, instead of relying on the Widevine streaming software, which is another option, perhaps better used on WiFi connected tablets.

The new HTC Sensation is described as 4G but without a mention of LTE in sight, so this is advanced HSUPA not LTE or WiMAX. The HTC Watch video service was launched on the HTC Flyer tablet in February and this is the first time it is out on a phone. The phone uses the same processor as the Flyer tablet, the Qualcomm 1.2-gigahertz dual-core Snapdragon, RUNNING Android Gingerbread and uses a quarter HD screen, defined as 540 x 960 resolution on a 4.3 inch SLCD touch display. The 8 MP camera takes full HD 1080p video at 30 frames a second.

There are few details about exactly what you can get on HTC Watch, only that content is said to be signed up from most of the major US movie studios and it offers a choice of renting or buying videos, and that when they are purchased, they can be watched on up to five HTC devices, using DRM domain capabilities.

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