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June 26, 2007

The New RealPlayer 11 - A First Look

The new, "web-video-download-center" version of RealPlayer (Is RealPlayer Going to Make a Comeback?) is out this morning. [Download RealPlayer 11]  Some first impressions:
  • Download: A 13MB download, but no questions asked and no prompting for personal info
  • Installation: At about 80 seconds on my MacBook Pro (WinXP under Parallels), still not zippy, but it asked just a few simple questions about configuration on a single screen. Much simpler than prior versions.
  • Loading: Loads up quickly - much more quickly than older RealPlayers.  Feels fast.  The UI still includes tabs for managing your media library, looking at the RealGuide, etc.  But interestingly, the RealGuide, rather than be full of links to teenybopper pop stars, is full of links to top content on YouTube, Metacafe, and the like. Screenshot of RealPlayer download button on Brightcove page
  • Downloading video from the Web: Of course, the feature everyone's talking about, RP11 adds a "Download This" link to videos that appear on any Web site with video.  Shown is a screenshot showing the button added to a Brightcove page:
  • Clicking the download button gets you a download manager that resembles Firefox's download manager. 
  • Videos go into your video library in their native format -- no conversions or obfuscating file names -- it's just there in plain view in the home directory (\My Documents\My Videos\RealPlayer Downloads by default)
One interesting thing about RP11 is what it will not download:
  • RTMP Streaming Flash video (from a Flash Media Server or equivalent) will not download.  Only HTTP-delivered FLV will work. 
  • DRM-protected video will not download.
The built-in "Share This" button on RealPlayer sends a link to the original video content.

All in all, I found that RP11 downloads video successfully from a wide variety of sites, including YouTube, Metacafe, Brightcove, CNN and others.  My first "cannot record this" hit came from Harvard@Home's Human Systems Explorer site, which uses true Flash rtmp streaming from Akamai.

Not a bad first impression. Some things need further exploration.  For example, I haven't yet found out how to hide, when the player first opens, the window that shows the RealGuide, the Library, and other stuff that's not "just the video, please".  Maybe this fits with Real's apparent strategy to make the standalone player into a good media download/management center and leave the embedded player for "video only" uses.  I'll post more info as I learn more.

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I am regular user of Real Player.
Will wait for your further updates.

Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

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