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Thursday, 12th October 2006 (updated 9th February and 11th October 2007)
Virgin Lobster 700 TV grabs the DAB digital radio limelight

Virgin Mobile's new Lobster 700 TV mobile is now available in the UK. Capable of receiving 5 channels (updated 11th October 2007 - channels now are: ITV1, Channel 4 simulcasts and E4 simulcasts, plus ITN News - the mobile TV service is set to close in 2008, but the Lobster will still receive DAB digital radio stations. The BBC One trial has now ended) - the Lobster 700 TV 'phone uses data capacity on the national commercial DAB digital radio multiplex.

The Lobster 700 picks up local and national DAB digital radio stations thanks to its inbuilt DAB digital radio receiver. The headphones act as the aerial for the 'phone and the display handily lists the stations in a scrolling list, complete with cropped station logos.

TV content is broadcast in real time via the national DAB digital radio multiplex serving England, Scotland and Wales to the The Virgin Lobster 700. Stations on the national multiplex are:

  • Classic FM

  • Core

  • Life

  • Oneword

  • Planet Rock

  • talkSPORT

  • Virgin Radio

  • new jazz station (due to open by Dec 2006)

If the above services appear in your DAB digital radio postcode check, you should be able to receive mobile digital TV and DAB digital radio on the Lobster 700.
Virgin Mobile Lobster 700 TV with DAB digital receiver built in

DAB digital radio services are listed on the Lobster 700's screen

After using the Lobster 700 TV DAB mobile 'phone now for under a month, I am already on my second unit.

The keyboard on the Lobster leaves much to be desired - its wobbly keys make texting and data entry a tiresome and fiddly task. The space key at the bottom right-hand side of the keyboard kept getting stuck. On my first model the key stands proud of the casework. My advice would be to avoid carrying the 'phone loose in your pocket where it might cause problems by keeping the lower keys depressed, or get yourself a case. My second 'phone seems to have its bottom keys aligned better with the casework, not standing proud, which may well increase its lifespan. It's worth checking the 'phone out before you buy if you can.

DAB reception is good, but not a patch on my Lagio R-105 DAB handheld (Aria A-3000).

I have also bought a few screen protectors to save the screen from scratches - particularly important if your primary aim is to watch TV on the Lobster.

TV reception is pretty good - the frame rate, however, is only around 8-10 frames/second and there is a certain amount of "stuttering" as the video plays catchup with the audio. This is fine, however, for "snacking" on programmes rather than using it as your main entertainment source!

The TV schedule is broadcast on the national commercial DAB radio multiplex, so leave the 'phone on Virgin Radio, Classic FM or Core for half an hour and the 'phone will grab the latest information over the airwaves.

For the one time I did lose the national commercial multiplex and TV stations, it was necessary to re-scan the DAB band to bring the stations back.

The subscription service involves connecting to a website to download and update the licences for the TV accordingly. The GBP5.00/month subsription charge on pay-as-you-go is deducted automatically from your airtime bundle if you agree to renew the licence every month. BBC1 is always free, but you do need a normal TV licence, of course. On PAYG, the TV service is free for 90 days and DAB radio is always free.

Hotmail can be checked either via the built-in browser or you can enter your settings to pick up through the pocket MSN application. Messenger and the MSN mobile web portal are both also available.

Windows Mobile Media Player is a cracking application that lets you take your music on the move. With a 1 or 2GB Micro SD memory card installed underneath the sim card, there's enough room to store almost two hundred tracks on a smaller capacity card.

The screen is bright and very readable, images taken using the built-in camera will need good ambient light and the headphones with built-in volume control and answer key are more than capable.

Overall, the Lobster is a good buy, especially when you consider a dedicated handheld DAB radio will set you back around GBP50.00. Reception isn't as reliable on the Lobster, but in a strong signal area you should encounter few problems.

The Virgin Lobster 700 features a 320x240 pixel screen, measures 111mm tall x 52mm (mid point), 58mm (bulge point) x 24 mm deep and has a lithium ion battery. It weighs 140 grams. Recharge time is quoted as 3 hours and the 'phone has an expandable memory of 30MB. Watching TV is free for 90 days on the Pay-As-You-Go tariff, thereafter GBP5.00 per month.
Virgin Mobile Lobster 700 TV with DAB digital receiver built in - channel selection screen

There are currently 4 TV services available on the Lobster 700

The Lobster 700 mobile also has a 1.3 million pixel digital camera and mobile browser, which uses the GPRS system to access the internet. Activesync enables you to synchronise appointments and contacts with a desktop PC. Media Player is also available.
Virgin Mobile Lobster 700 mobile phone front Virgin Mobile Lobster 700 mobile phone rear

The Virgin Lobster 700 'phone/handheld TV/DAB receiver is available now.
lobster_700_mobile_apps.jpg - 68107 Bytes

The Lobster 700 features a number of useful applications

Virgin Mobile Lobster 700 mobile phone with mobile TV/DAB receiver

Virgin Mobile Lobster 700 mobile with TV and DAB

Virgin Mobile Lobster 700 mobile phone

key features:

watch 5 TV stations on the move
listen to DAB digital radio stations on the move
1.3 megapixel digital camera
video recording
make and receive calls
media player for video and audio playback
contacts and calendar can be synchronised with desktop PC or laptop
free TV for 90 days, thereafter GBP5.00/month (PAYG)
free Virgin Bites web for 30 days, thereafter GBP5.00/month (PAYG)
MSN Hotmail and Messenger access
free DAB digital radio stations - no subscription
red button functionality
runs on Windows Mobile 5.0 platform

Guide price:

GBP 199.99
available from: Carphone Warehouse - GBP 99.95 (Pay As You Go) | Carphone Warehouse - GBP free (With Contract) | Virgin Mobile - GBP 49.99 (Pay As You Go) | Virgin Mobile - GBP free (With Contract) | Tesco Direct - GBP 99.99 (Pay As You Go - search on "lobster tv")

Related links:
find DAB digital radio stations in your area, on this website.
national BBC DAB radio stations, on this website.
national commercial radio stations, on this website.
guide to DAB digital radio, on this website.
DAB digital radio portables and receivers
cheaper DAB portables/receivers
Alarm clock DAB radios
Handheld/personal/pocket DAB radios
DAB digital radio systems - hifi and tuners
DAB digital radio FAQs
more DAB digital radio and tuner special offers and discounts
more DAB digital radio stockists

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