iPhone TV: or How to Watch News While Shaving Without a TV

Yes, I’ll admit it. I like having a TV in the bathroom so I can watch (or listen) to the news while shaving and getting ready for the day. In a previous residence I had a large bathroom which I remodeled to include dual sinks and a flat screen TV mounted on the wall between them.

Unfortunately, I no longer have that luxury as I have moved to a place with a much smaller bathroom. Remodeling is not an option and with no cable or power outlet convenient, wireless is my only option.

The discontinued Sony Locationfree TV

The discontinued Sony Locationfree TV

I’m a big fan of the discontinued Sony LocationFree LF-X1 12 inch portable television. That baby came with a portable flat screen TV (shown) and a wireless base that also functioned as a wireless-G Wi-Fi access point. I still have two of them, though I wish there was some way to upgrade the built in web browser, which is basically useless these days. I love these and really wish Sony would come out with an upgraded version (at an affordable price).

Problem is, although they are rechargeable, they don’t use standard TV wall mounts and the original wall mount that was made for these doesn’t seem to be available anymore. Also, taking the TVs down constantly to charge them (since I don’t have a power outlet in the right location) is a pain. And, the bathroom counter I use is tiny, so there’s no room for one of them to sit on the counter.

I’ve been a fan of Orb for quite a while, too. This is a free service that lets you watch TV streaming off of your TV tuner-enabled PC at home by way of the Internet. You just install the Orb client on your media PC, login to your Orb account at the Orb web site and you can watch TV, view videos or images on your PC or listen to your music from any Internet connected browser anywhere. No extra hardware needed.

My iPhone would be the perfect size for viewing TV on my bathroom counter, so the first thing I tried was logging into Orb using the Safari browser through my home Wi-Fi connection (I have the original iPhone, so no 3G). I could stream my videos, listen to music and look at my pictures over the iPhone, but darn it, no live TV option.

TV on an iPhone using the Orb app

TV on an iPhone using the Orb app

Orb has come to my rescue with their Orb iPhone App. They offer a free version, but it’s basically useless so spring for the full version at $9.99. Just install it on your iPhone, provide your user name and password and you’re up and running.

One problem is that watching your iPhone in the sideways position gives the largest video image, so I found a simple metal mesh business card holder at Staples to set mine in. It’s a perfect fit.

Yes, you can plug your iPhone into a wall jack for power if you use an adapter with your USB cable. I don’t have room for that, so I just use battery power. It’s not as though I’m watching this standing at the sink for hours.

The Orb iPhone App provides settings for optimizing the video stream for Edge, 3G or Wi-Fi. I didn’t even try Edge and I don’t have 3G, but the Wi-Fi viewing was very good.

Naturally, this killer app opens me up to using the iPhone for TV wherever I have a Wi-Fi connection. Eventually, I’m sure I’ll upgrade to the 3G iPhone, making me even more of a TV addict.

Hey, who wouldn’t want to watch “Oprah” while sipping java at Starbucks?



Considering Bundled Service? Maybe You Should Reconsider…

Bundling your telcom services might now be such a good ideaMy area recently suffered an all day service failure with Timer Warner Cable. Everything was down – TV, Internet, VOIP phone – all of the services offered by the media giant. Fortunately for me, it happened on a weekend. Otherwise I would have been screwed as I work from home and do everything over the Internet and phone.

I was furious to think that a company that pushes the hell out of their bundled one-stop package would allow itself to be put in this position (Like they’d have a redundant backup of some kind). All of their customers in the area were without these services. It’s bad enough to have TV down, but if you bundle your services with one company, EVERYTHING goes down in an outage. No TV, no Internet and no telephone.

I currently get high speed Internet and TV from Time Warner. I don’t use their phone service. My VOIP is through Packet 8, but without Internet, I was without my telephone, too.

So, I got to thinking. Like investing, it is probably a good idea to diversify your communications services.

Yes, you might save a few bucks with a bundle, but you run the risk of being without all telecom services in an outage such as what my area went through (and it was not the first time).

So, I’m looking at breaking up these services. I’d like one source for Internet, another for television programming and one for telephone. I am fortunate enough to be in an area where I can get an alternative to all of these (not so fortunate to have fiber optics like Fios yet, though). It could be a mixture of basic cable from Time Warner, DirecTV for premiums, DSL and cell phone service (using VOIP as a backup rather than primary service) or other mashups.

Whatever, I am determined not to let any company put me into the position of having NO service because of a single outage. For me, the teensy savings offered with such a bundle is not worth the potential inconvience or frustration.

Rant over. 😉