Mobileplay is a free ad supported mobile portal that offers some content that is not available anywhere else. Probably the best reason to visit Mobileplay is Salon.com. While it's true that Salon has it's own mobile site which I reviewed a while back that site is limited to just excerpts from a handful of stories. Salon on Mobileplay has the full content of over 100 current Salon articles. Other Mobileplay exclusives include AP News, Wired, TechnologyGuide.com, DigitalCameraReview.com, Flavorpill, About.com and the Gawker Media blogs, Defamer, Gawker, Wonkette, and Valleywag.
It looks like what Mobileplay is doing is taking full RSS feeds and mobilizing them by removing links and images and splitting long articles up into pages. In some cases you could do this yourself with a mobile rss agregator like Google Reader Mobile (review) or Bloglines (review). But not all these sites have free full feeds and most of them are very active and can easily overwhelm the casual reader. If you just want to browse some of these sites once in awhile rather than having your news reader clogged up with every item from some very prolific feeds, Mobileplay again makes sense.
Mobileplay fills out their portal's content with links to some of the best mobile sites around like the BBC, Google Local, MLB.com, Mapquest and HopStop.com. It's a fairly well rounded collection of mobile sites including some online games. About the only categories missing are mobile web search, email, chat and social networking.
There are a couple of ways to access MobilePlay's content. You can go directly to the mobile site at mini.mobileplay.com. There's a special version of Opera Mini that has MobilePlay as a featured bookmark which you can download by pointing your mobile browser at mini.opera.com although it's not required - you can use the browser that came with your phone. Mobileplay also has dedicated applications for Palm, Pocket PC, Blackberry and Java ME phones.
I tried the Palm and Java applications and recommend that you stick to accessing Mobileplay through a browser, either Opera Mini or your phone's built in browser. I do recommend downloading Opera Mini though - it's speed and UI quality is impressive and you'll probably prefer it to the phone browser.
The Java ME application was frustratingly slow on my phone - both Opera Mini and the built in browser where several times faster. In addition, the Java application is missing several of the sites that are on Mobileplay's mobile web portal.
The Palm application works on non-connected PDA's by downloading a day's worth of reading using your PC's internet connection when you HotSync. This is similar to the way Avantgo and Plucker work. If you have a converged device like a Treo you can also sync over air. I couldn't get the Palm version to work, however. It installed easily and looked promising. I subscribed to several channels and HotSynced. While synchronizing I saw messages indicating that Mobileplay was updating my channels and the Hotsync log showed no errors - but I never got any content on the PDA. I'm sure it's some sort of configuration error that I'll eventually resolve but it was definitely frustrating.
Give Mobileplay a try, it adds a significant amount of quality content to the mobile web and using the web version doesn't require any registration or downloads. I didn't find the ads on Mobileplay intrusive either - they are limited to a single graphic banner at the top of each page - a small price to pay for getting access to some unique mobile content.
Ratings - Content: Usability: