SPB TV 2.0 is an IP TV streaming solution for BlackBerry devices. If you have any experience with video streaming you can appreciate the general frustration with video quality that sometimes looks like a puzzel with various pieces missing. In general the challenge with video streaming is around limited or unpredictable bandwidth. Try to suspend the preconceptions and imagine a solution designed to perform on mobile devices over 3G data services.

I like many technology enthusiasts have used SlingBox for mobile video streaming, or Apple TV, Vudu TV, Hulu, YouTube and a host of other solutions. The challenge faced with most streaming solutions are changes with consistent download speeds. The variation in download speeds, specifically when it dips below the minimum required speed, results in video quality issues many people have experienced.

The Downside

My biggest concern with SPT TV is performance. The installer package is small at around 700kb and it only requires BlackBerry OS 4.3 or higher. That said my BlackBerry Bold 9650 with 161 MB of free memory becomes sluggish when I initially start the app. In fact if I start playing a show the OS takes some time to respond to my attempts to turn the volume down as it is running so sluggish. I cannot say that is so much an issue with SPB TV vs RIM not supporting offloading some activities to the GPU.

Think Kung Fu theatre, where the audio is out of sync with the video that was my experience from time to time with SPB TV. I cannot say my experience was better or worse than any other app as it relates to streaming. One feature I wish was offered was audio only, Slingbox offers a feature where you can turn off video and just stream audio when bandwidth is limited.

UPDATE: After writing my initial review SPB pushed a performance update. It required a reboot but the performance impact on my Bold 9650 is significantly better. I am not seeing a many video quality issues. The update did require a reboot but after 2 hrs of testing I have not noticed any major issues.

While SPB TV has a many channels they only had 3-4 that I would ever care to watch. I cannot see myself using this on a day to day basis as it does not have my first choice channels.

The Upside

SPB TV is a shockingly decent solution for streaming video content to your BlackBerry. Now it is not as flexible as SlingBox, but it is a free solution. I am not a huge TV person and I found myself enjoying Bloomberg TV via my BlackBerry. Over WiFi I can only recall one or two streaming issues but if you switch to 3G it is a different story.

SPB TV 2.0 has channels in a wide variety of languages (English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Czech, and Dutch). When I initially downloaded the app I had high hopes to see thing like Discovery Channel, ESPN, HGTV, SPIKE, MTV, BET, History, SciFi, and many others.

A benefit is the integrated TV guide. When you are trying to stream video to a mobile device bandwidth is a constant struggle. The guide uses less bandwidth compared to bringing up a traditional onscreen guide during programming.

SPB TV 2.0 is designed for both touch screen and non touch screen BlackBerry devices. There are two different downloads of the client. I was not able to test the touch screen version.


Since it appears the software update has solved the performance and video quality issues the real question is can you find a channel you like.  SPB TV 2.0 is free to you but you need to deal with some ads. Other solutions like Slingbox cost you from $100 – $300 for hardware then an additional $30 for the sling player software.

Download SPB TV 2.0 for BlackBerry

Press Release

January 25th, 2011 – SPB Software, a leading mobile software developer, has released a major update for the BlackBerry version of its flagship solution SPB TV to version 2.0. As SPB TV 2.0 is ad-supported it is absolutely free for the end-user and requires no subscription fee. To deliver uninterrupted mobile TV experience ads in SPB TV are shown only during the channel buffering time.

SPB TV has reached the 3 million users milestone by January 2011. It has become so popular among users due to the best-in-class mobile TV interface. SPB TV is designed to provide users with the real TV-watching experience. For example the channelpreview allows users to see what is currently shown on a live channel before ever launching it. For those who are used to channel hopping the preview mode is a “must-have”.

In addition to existing features that include the catalogue with more than 150channels in over 20 languages, unique TV browser with quick channel previews, a TV guide with the list of current and upcoming TV shows, fast channel launch and switching, the new version offers also a video on demand (VOD) option. Another significant enhancement is the Advanced Video Codec (H.264) supportwhich improves video quality. As a result even with substantial lower bitrates the picture quality is strongly improved.

SPB TV is also available on Android, bada, iPhone/iPad, Symbian, Maemo, Windows Mobile and WebOS smartphones as well as on feature phones.

As a solution for mobile operators it allows carriers to couple SPB’s proven solution with their own infrastructure and various subscription models. 4 mobile operators worldwide have already deployed SPB TV based mobile TV solutions.

SPB TV for BlackBerry Main Features:

  • More than 150, subscription free, TV channels from more than 20 countries
  • Unique TV browser with fast channel launching and switching
  • Integrated TV Guide with a list of current & upcoming TV shows
  • Ability to set calendar reminders for TV shows of interest
  • Video-on-demand
  • Fast channel launch and switching
  • SPB TV 2.0 for BlackBerry will be available for free
  • Ability to set calendar reminders for TV shows of interest
  • Video quality switcher
  • Advanced Video Codec support