Verizon V Cast
Editor's note: Since the time we posted this review, Verizon has added new handsets and V Cast cities. Please see CNET's quick guide to 3G for a complete list.
After a long wait, Verizon's ballyhooed V Cast service has finally arrived in the United States, following the rollout of the carrier's high-speed EV-DO (third generation, or 3G) network. In other words, you now can get on-demand video and lightning-fast data transfers, provided you have a 3G-enabled Verizon cell phone. While V Cast falls well short of TV-quality video, and the one- to five-minute clips lean toward the cheesy side, there's more than enough eye candy to keep you busy while you're waiting at the dentist's office or killing time at the airport. Even better, V Cast does a great job of turbocharging Web browsing and game downloads with promised data speeds of between 300Kbps to 500Kbps on your mobile. If you're a Verizon subscriber and you're curious to see what 3G is all about, V Cast is well worth the modest $15 monthly fee.
V Cast's claim to fame is its (mostly) all-you-can-eat buffet of 300-plus on-demand video clips, which run between one to five minutes in length and come in four main categories: news, entertainment, sports, and weather. Under news, you get about 35 videos from CNN, ranging from on-the-hour news updates to clips covering world events, sports, business, and entertainment; 9 clips from NBC News, including breaking news and a handful of features; and 8 segments from MarketWatch, covering the latest market news and a few feature stories. In the wide world of sports, both ESPN and Fox Sports each weigh in with about 40 clips of breaking news and featurettes on pro and college teams, while NBA TV boasts highlights from 10 recent games, and NASCAR To Go has about 15 news and feature clips. Meanwhile, Accuweather.com offers daily clips covering 40 individual cities, as well as national and regional weather updates.
Not bad, but the real goodies come in the entertainment section. That's where you'll find the much-hyped, one-minute mobisodes, episodic programming produced specifically for mobile devices. Among the content, you'll find episodes for Love and Hate, a reality-style show about couples and their relationships; Sunset Hotel, a Melrose Place-type soap opera; and 24: Conspiracy, a minute of somewhat cheesy thrills instead of an hour, sans Jack Bauer. Other highlights include a dozen movie and DVD trailers; about 15 clips and highlights from various Fox and ABC shows; a dozen snippets from Sesame Street; 20-odd entertainment and gossip clips from E; three Unplugged-type videos from VH1; four recent clips from the Daily Show; and about 10 full-length music videos from the likes of Michelle Branch, Green Day, and Faith No More.