|Summary: Will YouTube be available on your cell phone? Many of the major cell phone companies are rushing to build alliances with broadcast companies to deliver content to telephones.|
Verizon sells many multimedia phones and now offer an optional service called V CAST. For those of you not familiar with V CAST, it essentially delivers broadcasts (music, videos, games and more) to your phone (You will need a V CAST Music enabled phone and Verizon Wireless Calling Plan. To purchase music on your phone, you will need to be within the V CAST coverage area.)
So, you purchase a V CAST account (If you already have a V CAST music phone but bought it prior to January 16, 2006 you must visit a Verizon store to have your software upgraded free of charge. Otherwise, you have to purchase a V CAST Music Phone. A nice Ultimate Media RAZR retail $49.99.with a new two-year contract gets a $50.00 online discount. You have a choice of plans so total to sign up with V CAST will vary dependent upon your choices).
Verizon's not alone. Many of the major cell phone companies are rushing to build alliances with broadcast companies to deliver content to telephones.
At the time of this writing, Verizon is trying to set up a deal to supply YouTube videos on telephones.
So, in any event, my goal wasn't to buy my daughter a media phone that would be a bottomless pit for me to throw dollars into over and over.
So, we did some “Googling” and found a number of very interesting sites that had programs and secret keyboard codes to “unlock” secret menus in the phone
Specifically, the phone we bought, the Samsung SCH-a930, is a multimedia phone that plays movies, video clips, and music. But it only plays WMA files, not the MP3 files that we have so many of.
In short, Verizon wants us to pay $1.99 per song, and download them through V CAST. And of course, we didn't want to do that, if at all possible.
My daughter's phone has a tiny memory card slot that holds a standard micro SD memory card like the kind that is used in some digital cameras and GPS units.
Well, this phone is only a few months old. In fact, we ordered ours from the Verizon Wireless website, and was not even available in our local stores. To o
ur great fortune, even as new as the phone is, we found an online users group. In it, were a few surprises-we could use a free utility from Microsoft called the “Media Bonus Pack” to perform a bulk conversion of our MP3 files to the WMA format.
Furthermore, once we navigated a couple of menus on the phone, it would create the necessary directories on the memory card so that we could simply drag our converted WMA files from our computer to the phone's memory card, and play them in the phone.
This phone, the Samsung SCH-a930, also has a camera with a flash (the flash is unique in a camera phone). But, it's classified as a “music phone” like the new “Chocolate” and a few other models. It has a distinctive clamshell style that when closed, the phone looks and acts like an MP3 player
And the phone actually has MP3/WMA controls on the lid (play, stop, next song, previous song, etc).
And the lid has tiny speakers so that you can set the phone beside you and listen to the music. The screen on the inside is fairly large and ideal for navigating the menus and adequate for looking at pictures and watching videos.
The screen on the outside is a low power OLED screen that displays the caller ID for incoming calls, or displays the song title when it's being used as a music player.
Unlike other music phones, this one doesn't require a special “plug” to connect standard headphones, but it does require a micro-to-mini plug converter that you can buy at Radio Shack or any electronics store.
With the help of this online user group, we could now load her phone with hours of free music. Furthermore, the user's site had a bunch of tips and links for copying video clips to the memory card that were pretty easy to follow. In just a few minutes, we'd copied a couple of classic Monty Python videos to her phone and were watching them in full color.
It seems like these new breeds of videophones could easily give radio and TV a run for their money. The sound from the stereo speaker on the top of the phone is adequate not great (a kind of pocket-FM radio quality). They're the same speakers that are used for the phone's speakerphone, so if you have a speakerphone on your mobile, you've got an idea. But like MP3 players, the quality is much better if you connect the phone to external speakers or if you use a quality set of earphones.