vTap is another of the many sites offering streaming video for mobile phones. vTap launched in September as a downloadable application for Windows Mobile devices which is still available. Then came an Ajax powered iPhone version. I don’t have an iPhone, but if you do try vTap.com. The iPhone version has some neat features like predictive text search where the site completes words as you type and RSS news feeds that spontaneously appear to help you pass the time while your video is being buffered in the slow ATT Edge network.
The big news for WapReview though, is that vTap has just launched a mobile web version of the site at . The mobile site lacks the flashy features of the iPhone app but should work on any phone capable of streaming 3gpp video. I tried vTap using a Nokia N95 and was pleased with the site’s clean and efficient design and large selection of content. vTap is a primarily a video search engine which does real-time encoding of video from web formats like Flash to mobile friendly 3gpp. vTap finds videos on news sites like CNN and CBS and video sharing sites including YouTube and DailyMotion. The search is “fuzzy” so that even if you type “Brice Stringseen” you will still get to see the Boss‘ videos. If you would rather click than search, there is also a catalog of popular videos in categories like News, User Generated and various types of musical videos such as Rock and Latin.
vTap is wise to start with 3gpp formated video which plays on almost any video capable phone. The resolution of 3spp is 176×144 and file sizes average about 500 KB making streaming over Edge or 1RTT practical. I hope that vTap will eventually offer higher quality mpeg4 video in addition to 3gpp. Many recent 3G phones like Nokia’s N Series and the Motorola Z8 can easily stream 320×240 mpeg4. The N95 has spoiled me, vTap’s content plays fine but after sampling mpeg4 video from sites like Shralp and srobbin.com, fuzzy 3gpp is a bit of a let down. It’s still hard to find much good mpeg4 content on the mobile web. There’s so much competition among sites offering 3gpp that I’d think that more of them would move to offering higher quality mpeg4 streams now that there is a critical mass of phones that can support the format.