Sports fans can easily find the live stadium experience to be paradoxically out of touch compared with the instant stats, superior commentary, and HD replays available to home viewers. DVRs, HDTVs, and smartphones can't follow you to the live game. At stadiums, it's hard to get any smartphone to work properly. Streaming radio apps black out live game broadcasts, unless you're using Sirius. As for video, unless you've got some portable TV with an HDTV antenna converter box, you're out of luck.
This is the promise that NFL FanVision offers to a seasoned fan. At first glance, the device--a dedicated ruggedized handheld with a 4.3-inch screen formerly used at Nascar events--looks like a castoff from the early '00s, some idea of a personal media player from the early age of iPods. Purportedly waterproof (though we didn't test it) and boasting a 6-hour battery life for streaming, it's a bit too big to pocket and hangs from a lanyard around one's neck. Sure, it's not nearly as elegant as an iPhone. What it does, however, bears consideration. A live TV feed of the current game (plus audio commentary), multiple viewing angles, instant multi-angle replay after every play, plus live video of other games around the league, the NFL Red Zone channel, and stats...it's compelling for a hard-core fan.
How it works Others might ask, why not just watch the real live game in front of you? That's a valid point, but not for me. I'm a New York Jets fan, and my dad has been one for 45 years. We know the players, and we like to know what's happening down to the fine details. FanVision's audio commentary and stats offer more than what's given via the minimalist PA system and the infrequently updated HD megascreens. And instant replay, the killer app for the home user, is offered up at the press of a button.
Even better, FanVision seems to be set up to be overload-proof. FanVision works via a dedicated local UHF channel that's licensed to broadcast in the stadium and the parking lot area. The device is really a higher-tech TV, one that can receive up to 10 channels of digitally compressed video and stat data and cache highlight videos for replays. Once booted up via a small power button, the device locates the nearby broadcast tower and downloads team-specific data and channel programming. After a few minutes of initialization, the device is up and running. By avoiding Wi-Fi or 3G, FanVision's broadcast concept shouldn't suffer from slowdown.
It all sounds great on paper, but we wanted to test it for ourselves.… Read more