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This article was published on February 5, 2010

Review: NicoNico Douga Japanese Video iPhone App

Review: NicoNico Douga Japanese Video iPhone App
Kevin Korpi
Story by

Kevin Korpi

Based in Saitama, Japan but often found attending tech events in Tokyo. Enjoys playing video games on Wii and Nintendo DS; occasionally tink Based in Saitama, Japan but often found attending tech events in Tokyo. Enjoys playing video games on Wii and Nintendo DS; occasionally tinkering with GNU/Linux and Mac OSX; and actively following blogs and tech sites about the latest tech and web trends. Follow him on twitter and FriendFeed.

Nico Nico Douga is a very popular video site based in Japan, ranking only second to Youtube in viewership. Outside of Japan the next countries with large viewership comes from users in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

With the success of the iPhone in the Japanese market it became apparent that Nico Nico Douga should create an app.

In order too enable iPhone/iPod Touch owners to access the site when mobile they have created a free app. The controls work much the same way as the Youtube app.

When a video is playing single tap to bring up the video controls, double tap to maximize the video or minimize it if already maximized. But how good is it compared to the juggernaut video app, Youtube, that comes pre-installed on all iPhones? Here’s my quick overview of the application.

The Good: NicoNicoDouga screenshotComments streaming over the video is supported, this is an important aspect considering it’s what makes the service unique.

The Bad: Nico Nico Douga video quality on the iPhone app is very low, especially compared to the more popular video site Youtube. Youtube as of last year has improved the quality of their video compression, leaving Nico Nico Douga’s looking NicoNicoDouga screenshotpixelated and choppy due to low frame rates and high compression.

Not only is the video quality not great but video loading is kind of slow leaving you to watch a ‘Loading..’ animation, even over WiFi. The quality and load times of the Flash-based videos is better when accessed from a Browser on a PC or Mac.

The Ugly: The UI of the app looks childish. This was done on purpose by the app designers, and might not bother Nico Nico Douga users, but it doesn’t match the sleek look of iPhone’s UI.NicoNicoDouga screenshot

Is it worth downloading?

If you’re an active member of Nico Nico Douga with an iPhone/iPod Touch it’s worth the download for mobile access.

But if you’re just looking for some funny videos to entertain you, it’s better to stick with the default Youtube app.

The unique feature that Nico Nico Douga offers is the capability to add comments at any point in a video, and when the video is played back the comment will scroll over the video at the playback time where you comment was made. This allows for the members of the site to communicate with each other; add subtitles, jokes, and various commentary about the videos.

Nico Nico Douga requires an account to view videos, but it’s free to sign up and access the site. The mandatory account is also used to to prevent abuse of the comment system, if you post spam your account will be blocked.

The Nico Nico Douga iPhone App can be downloaded from the Japanese iTunes Store.

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