Retro Tech

Bringing TV Channels to the Feature Phone: The Virgin Lobster 700TV

This bulky headset added 5 TV channels to users' pockets

Retro Alex

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Virgin Lobster 700TV

While the TwitterPeek unapologetically cut features, the Virgin Lobster 700TV added them.

This 2006 feature phone included a receiver built into the right side of the device to capture TV channels, giving it an asymmetrical silhouette. CNET called it, “one of the ugliest handsets we’ve ever seen.”

Along with the bulky design, it weighed 40% more than the average Windows Mobile phone, turning off buyers and tech reviewers.

But there was a bit of innovation packed in its chunky frame. The Lobster featured a DAB receiver, which allowed owners to tune into 50 DAB radio stations and 5 TV channels, like BBC1 and Channel 4. The included earbuds operated as the TV/radio antenna, eliminating the need for an external antenna but also requiring owners to use the provided earbuds. And it worked as long as you were above ground without any overhead interference.

The Virgin Lobster 700TV sold for £199, placing it on the higher end of phones at the time. Monthly TV and radio service was an additional £5/mo, but customers on monthly mobile plans often got the service for free.