Is Flash on Android “Shockingly Bad” or “Shockingly Great?”

android

Since posting Kevin Tofel’s demo of Flash video on his Nexus One handset, we’ve received a ton of comments: some pro-Flash, some anti-Flash, some anti-Apple, some even anti-Kevin. One of the more interesting aspects of the debate is that many readers posted response videos, showing their own experiences with Flash on Android mobile handsets.

Michael Panzer, a reader from Germany, for instance, posted a video of his experience with Flash video on his Galaxy S. Unlike Kevin’s experience, movie trailers from Metacafe — including the HD trailer of Alpha and Omegaloaded just fine, despite a few stutters along the way, as did the trailer for the latest Resident Evil film, also in HD. However, Panzer didn’t record his attempt to watch videos on ABC.com or Fox.com, which were the sites that gave Kevin the most trouble.

Reader Dennis Forbes also posted a video response of his own. Using his own Android phone, he watched Kevin’s video on NewTeeVee (which is only slightly meta), debunking some of the claims of what mobile processors are capable of when compared to other processors, before moving on to watch some video on the device.

Forbes admits that he tried to duplicate Kevin’s experience with videos on ABC.com, Fox.com and Metacafe, but lays the blame on Kevin for “trying to play video streams that were too complex and has too high of a bit rate that the device just can’t handle.” He compares the mobile experience to one his son had on a Pentium 4 1.7 GHz PC that had been handed down: “I recall having similar problems; it was the same sort of deal… It simply couldn’t keep up.” Instead, he showed off how he’s “come to rely on [his Android handset] for some relatively low-grade needs,” including short videos from Zero Punctuation.

The strongest counterpoint comes from developer Paul Yanez, who recorded a video and posted a response on his blog entitled, “Video: Flash on Android Is Shockingly Great!!!” Yanez said he was surprised by our piece because he recently bought a Droid 2 and had had no problems with it playing Flash.

Yanez demonstrated the same episode of Bones that Kevin had trouble watching due to “seconds per frame” instead of “frames per second” being displayed during playback. In Yanez’s video “there’s no stutter, there’s no choppiness, the audio is synced up” when playing the 43-minute Bones episode, which leads him to conclude that “there’s nothing wrong with the Flash player” on the Droid 2. In his experience, the Flash player is stable, very powerful, and “there’s no difference between the Flash player in this mobile phone than on a desktop.”

What you need is optimal code, according to Yanez, who placed the Bones video on a blank HTML page before playback. As a result, he blames the Fox website for the issues that Kevin experienced during his demo, not the Flash video player itself. All Fox has to do to improve the experience for end users, according to Yanez, is make the video an image and launch the video player in a new window.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Lynn Wallenstein.

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