Here’s what we’ve learned after getting some extended time handling Sona Mobile’s BlackBerry MediaPlayer. Here’s the scoop: although they’re uncertain of the official launch date (I was testing a beta version of the software), they’re certain it will be out by July 1st. The MediaPlayer uses Sona’s proprietary media format which can be downloaded, streamed or pushed to you. Although the beta didn’t have push functionality, it will apparently notify you by email once the desired videos have been downloaded. The videos themselves are quite small and take on average 2 minutes to download for every minute of video (when I was testing the MediaPlayer it was actually a fair bit longer, but I was assured that it’s because I’m on roaming with T-Mobile instead of my natural carrier). Sona has a deal signed with CanWest MediaWork, so the initial content will reflect that relationship (news, sports, financial quotes and the like). While they can’t reveal any carriers at this point, expect solid support.
Using the program itself is pretty simple. You basically select videos from the available list and they begin to download to your playlist (I’m assuming with the push version you’ll be able to select certain types of videos you always want so they can be downloaded automatically). The interface is very streamlined and has a nice option to hide to hide the controls so only the video is showing. The audio comes through clear and loud, but the MediaPlayer didn’t work with my headset (I’m unsure as to whether this is an oversight, beta related or the fault of my shoddy headset). The 12 frames per second video is pretty clear with the occasional glitch, but is really all you need for the type of video content Sona is providing.
Basically us here at BlackBerry Cool can’t wait to get our hands on the full version. We have a few concerns about data and additional subscription costs, but we’ll have more for you on that around the official launch.