Thursday, June 21, 2007

New RealPlayer simplifies capturing video off the Web

I've always enjoy watching videos online - from YouTube to Dailymotion, but of course with poor connection you can't expect videos to run smoothly, they always stop and pause at some point. That's why I have to save them using some online video downloader, and then i have to convert these flv files to avi so they can be played by media player off line. But now there's a better and easier way to watch your favorite online videos... thanks to RealPlayer's latest version.

On Tuesday, with the "beta" arrival of the latest RealPlayer software, RealNetworks hopes to simplify things. RealPlayer 11 is billed as the first media player to let you record and download videos from thousands of websites with a single click. The free software was unveiled this month at the D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif.

The pre-release version is still buggy. But for the most part, the program's chief bragging point — making it a cinch for you to capture unprotected video — works as promised. And RealPlayer 11 is less bloated and not as intrusive as earlier versions of the software.

After installing the software, a "Download This Video" button pops up whenever you move your mouse pointer over a video anywhere in cyberspace. Just click on the button to start downloading clips. It's as simple as that; you do not have to separately launch the new RealPlayer.

What's more, you can choose to download a clip at any point during the video, and the scene will be captured from the start. The download will proceed in the background even if you pause or stop watching. And you can download more than one video at the same time.

You can watch videos full-screen or burn copies to a disc. You'll have to spring for a $29.99 RealPlayer Plus version to burn to a DVD; the free version lets you burn videos to a CD, where storage is more limited. The Plus version sports advanced video controls, among other features.

But still there are restrictions with RealPlayer 11. You can't just download any video out there. Clips that are embedded with digital rights management (DRM) copy restrictions cannot be saved. Viewers will see a "Video Cannot Be Downloaded" message if a certain movie is DRM embedded.

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