.3gp is the native file format of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, and and along with its cousin, the .3g2 (3rd Generation Partnership Project 2), these files are multimedia files used in the creation and distribution of multimedia on mobile devices across 3G networks. 3GP and 3G2 provide standards for 3rd generation multimedia that are used world wide by almost every provider of mobile communications equipment and services. The file structure's container system reduces bandwidth and storage usage, thus making them perfect for use in mobile communications applications. Both formats are derived from the popular MPEG-4 format, with some mobile phones adding the .mp4 extension to its 3GP videos.
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Though 3GP and 3G2 are related formats used for the same kind of files, they are different and should not be confused with one another. 3GP is the format in use by GSM (Global System for Mobil communications) based devices, while 3G2 is the format of CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) based devices. The GSM Association estimates that nearly 80% of mobile devices currently in use are GSM based. 3GP files are always big-endian, meaning that during transfer, the bytes are arranged and sent starting with the highest parts in the file hierarchy and moving to the lowest. The file is defined as a "container" made up of three top level boxes, with each one also having its own boxes within.
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More Info Regarding File Extension 3gp
.3gp files can be transferred to a computer for editing, viewing, or storage purposes. Once on the PC, these files can be opened and viewed by several different programs. VLC Media Player and MPlayer are two free and open source programs with .3gp support. Both programs have versions for Linux, Mac, and Windows, while VLC also has a BeOS version. Quicktime, Totem, RealPlayer, and Windows media player can open and play these files too, but it has been reported that in some versions of WMP additional codecs are needed. Other formats such as .avi and .wmv can also be converted to the .3gp format for use on a mobile device, but depending on the specific device, file size can be a considerable issue for larger files. Examples of conversion programs with .3gp support include Free 3GP Video Converter, AVS Video Editor, Xilisoft 3GP Converter, Oxelon Media Converter, and Mobile 3GP converter.
The four most common errors associated with .3gp files are fairly benign and easy to deal with. The most common type is a file association error due to the fact that major operating systems do not make an association by default. A user might transfer a movie from phone to PC, only to find that when double clicking on the file the operating system doesn't know what to do with it. Simply creating the association in the operating system resolves this issue.
The second most common error is a codec issue when attempting to convert .3gp files to another format. Some conversion programs require that Quicktime be present on the computer being used for conversion. A current installation of Quicktime assures that all the needed codecs are present and working properly. Users who experience a codec error when trying to convert should check to make sure Quicktime has been installed. If so, a simple software update may correct the issue.
The third error is also related to codecs, but in this case it's with playback. Windows based machines without Quicktime may not have the necessary codecs installed for playback. If this is the case, the user should see a warning and dialog box appear when trying to play a .3gp file. It is generally considered safe to download and install the needed codecs, but always make sure your antivirus package is up and running before you do. With the proper codecs installed this error should be eliminated.
The final error with .3gp files is one of data corruption. This corruption most often occurs when transferring the files from a mobile device to a computer. If a transfer is interrupted, or the computer and mobile device have trouble getting along, data can be lost or damaged during the process. It is possible for a file to be damaged yet still show the correct size and properties on the computer. If .3gp files do become corrupted, a new copy of the file will need to be downloaded.