The BBC recently made available for download to portable media players such as the Nokia N96, iPlayer TV and radio content.

The BBC recently made available for download to portable media players iPlayer content that's been broadcast on BBC TV and radio stations. The TV and radio content can be viewed on devices such as Creative Zen X-Fi, the Archos internet tablet and even the Nokia N96 smartphone. So we couldn't help but grab a Nokia N96 handset in a bid to try out this free TV-on-demand service and see just how easy it is to use.

The BBC initially made iPlayer content available for the Nokia N96 in September but only via 3G or a Wi-Fi connection, which worked out costly for those not on a contract offering unlimited data downloads. However, the new option allows you to download videos, which are encoded in 320x180 resolution at 500kbps with 128kbps for audio, to your PC and then transfer them via USB to a mobile handset.

We started by visiting www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer, where we were able to choose from hundreds of BBC radio and TV programs to download. You can select from shows broadcast today or the day before, shows deemed ‘Most Popular' and even view the A-Z list of all programmes available.

Once you've selected the show you want, you click the ‘download' button on the righthand side of the screen. This displays a drop-down menu that offers two choices; ‘To computer' and ‘For media players'. We selected the ‘For media players' option, which resulted in a spinning icon appearing, indicating the content was being prepared for download.

When the show's ready, a green tick is displayed alongside another download button. You press this to start the download and select where you want the file to be saved. Once the file is downloaded, connect your Nokia 96 handset to your PC via a USB cable, and then drag-and-drop the file on to the device. Then simply disconnect the handset and you are ready to watch the video.

No matter whether it's the for computer or for media player download that's chosen, the file will be in WMV format, which means it can be played in Windows Media Player. The only difference is that the media player file has a lower resolution but it could still be watched on a PC as well as the media player.

It's easy to access iPlayer content from the Nokia N96 - a quick touch button on the front of the device takes you straight to the My Videos folder where you store iPlayer content.

We love the fact that the Nokia N96's slider phone slides down in the traditional way when being used for calling or texting, but slides in the opposite direction when being used as a media player. By sliding the handset in this way you can access dedicated pause, stop, fast forward and rewind buttons.

The Nokia's 2.8in 240x320 resolution screen is perfect for watching the episode of Top Gear we downloaded, providing us with a clear picture that wasn't pixelated. We also found the audio was more than loud enough and with a 16GB internal flash memory and the capability to expand the memory to 32GB through a microSD card, there was plenty of storage for all the programs we wanted to download.

Unfortunately we found that watching video content on the Nokia N96 drained the battery. It's worth remembering that the BBC content has a DRM that expires after 30 days, so you won't be able to watch the shows you download indefinitely.

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BBC iPlayer on Nokia N96: Specs

  • internet connected PC
  • compatible mobile device
  • USB lead
  • internet connected PC
  • compatible mobile device
  • USB lead

OUR VERDICT

It's very simple to download and transfer BBC content to the Nokia N96. The N96's screen offers clear and sharp pictures. Even better is the ease of saving, downloading and transfering content, especially when compared to downloading shows over a Wi-Fi or 3G connection.

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