New Android handset offers free analog TV reception

Wireless data service firm Innocomm has partnered with Telegent Systems, a provider of free analog TV reception for smartphones, to bring out the first Android phone with built-in TV accessibility.

It’s the Innocomm Shark, a 3.5G smartphone with an 8-megapixel camera, 3.2-inch WVGS touchscreen display, WiFi compatibility, and the ability to watch and record live TV.

Unfortunately for Americans, though, Telegent Systems’ TV technology collects analog signals. The United States, and parts of Europe, have already switched off analog TV completely, making the biggest selling feature of this device useless. Numerous other countries are expected to follow suit within the next few years.

It will still be an important feature, though, for the rest of the world, as Android begins to make a bigger imprint on smaller countries in Asia and Eastern Europe. In many of these regions, mobile phones are used in place of more expensive laptop computers or even TV, and a feature-rich phone like this could invigorate those markets.

Telegent gets signals directly from the NTSC or PAL transmission, offering the delivery of the exact same TV channels that one would get from an actual TV.

Innocomm has not yet signed on with any service providers, but president Paul Wang is confident that will change quickly. In a statement, he said, “We expect the phone’s price and feature profile to appeal to operators seeking to add  3.5G Android smartphones to their portfolio and to leverage 3G as a strategic growth platform. The combination of analog TV with Android’s feature-rich platform allows us to deliver both operator and consumer extraordinary value in markets in Asia, Latin America and parts of Europe.”

The phone is on display at this week’s Computex trade show in Taipei.