Hold back the vomit; it’s time for Real Player SP!
If you’re like me, something happened in your teenage years, when you lost your mind through a combination of hormones and white cider, and decided that it would be a good idea to install Real Player on your computer.
Back in the age of Netscape, when .rm (and all the other) files were competing equally with every other format out there, it was quite a reasonable, even necessary thing to have Real Player installed. Of course, that was then and this is now. With the advent of VLC Media Player and similar cross-platform products, Real’s stranglehold over the .rm genus of increasingly insignificant file types has all but disappeared.
Just as Adobe’s Acrobat Reader package became increasingly bloated to the point of ridicule, equally, Real’s offerings became ever more ambitious, wanting to be more than a simple a player of files, instead trying to be a jack of all trades, attempting to manage your “media life”. The same fate befell Nero, with their horrid “digital life” ambitions, when all people wanted to do was burn DVDs. It’s reasonable to ridicule Real Player SP, because it’s been totally rubbish for ages. Well, not any more, it seems.
Oh don’t get me wrong, in many ways it’s the same old cack. It opens with a horrible MSN style web page with…well, you can see for yourself – an RAC advert. It also still takes far too long to load, and like the “fixed” version of iTunes 9 on Windows 7, although it never actually crashes or freezes; you always get the impression that it’s about to. Still, never mind. You only have to install Real Player; you don’t actually have to use it.
Go in to “Preferences”, select “Download & Recording”, and point the “Save Files to:” to your desktop. Now, whenever you have a video playing in your browser such as on YouTube, this happens…
Click the “Download This Video” pop-up in to top right of the streaming video, and it will be downloaded to your desktop. If you have a highly variable broadband connection (as I do), or simply want a local copy of internet videos you watch often, it’s a smashing feature.
What sells it for me though, isn’t even Real Player SP itself, it’s the converter that comes with it.
Installed entirely separately, this nifty little tool will make just about anything you have, play on anything you have. The encoding is very slow, compared to other encoding software, and Real, behaving in just the way you expect them to, reserve H.264 encoding for the paid-for version. Don’t worry though, H.264 is pants anyway, but I’ll write more on that over Christmas!
There’s a cracking feature of the converter that lets you rip the audio of any video file to MP3. I don’t know if Sony BMG were aware of this feature when they agreed to the pittance Google gives them to upload their HD music videos, but coupled with the video download plug-in within Real Player SP, I’ll let you think about how that could fill an iPod, not that we’d ever condone anyone actually doing that obviously, but interesting from a commentary point of view.
So that’s our Real Player SP review – and it’s absolutely amazing, who’d have thought it. What’s next, Norton speeds-up your PC?