With only one day left on the 2008 calendar Softbank finally released the highly anticipated 1-Seg TV tuner and battery for the Apple iPhone. Say what you will about the iPhone's steep challenge in Japan, but Softbank has come through with one of the best Apple accessories ever to hit the market. The device looks almost exactly like the iPhone itself but feels incredibly lightweight thus allowing the add-on to fit perfectly into the high-bar aesthetic tastes of most Apple fans.
The Good: Following the tradition of Apple, setting up the Softbank device is relatively simple (except for the software, more on that later). Once you have the correct software everything is basically plug and play. The battery works fine, and even though the device takes a TV signal from the air and then transmits it via WiFi to your iPhone, the 1-Seg TV signal renders a crystal clear picture with astoundingly good sound quality. You can use your own WiFi base station, a public WiFi access point, or any of the 3500 free to use public wireless Yahoo! BB LAN points around Japan provided by Softbank. More details and full unboxing below...
The Bad: Even using the correct Japanese katakana characters as well as various English permutations of the software name ("Terebi" in katakana or "television"), finding the correct application on Apple's App Store was nearly impossible. Save yourself the aggravation and just click here to access Softbank's TV software. All software menus and channel descriptions are in Japanese, this also applies to the hardware instruction manual, so non-Japanese speakers have been duly warned.
The other downside is that watching television on the go using only the iPhone's internal power with the screen set to full brightness will drain the battery pretty fast (I got in about an hour of TV watching before I went into battery panic). But if you have a fixed power source you can really get comfortable watching hours of television using this set-up. All told this is a great add-on for your iPhone and well worth the 9,850 yen ($108) price. Check out the gallery below for the full unboxing.