Real has released a beta version of the latest instalment of their long running media player. Dubbed SP – which stands for social/portable – the USP of this, the 12th version of RealPlayer, is that it allows users to rip streaming video and convert them to devices such as smartphones and portable media players.
After installing RealPlayer SP a download button appears if the cursor is hovered over YouTube, or other, video streams. After downloading the video using Real’s own download manager the video will now appear in the user’s library.
Now, this is when things get pretty interesting – honest. The user can now select to convert the video to a large number of portable devices ranging from the Palm Pre to the Nokia N97. If a user’s device isn’t listed – which isn’t likely as the list is huge – it is also possible to convert with custom settings. The conversion rate is quite slow though, only 1x, meaning a three minute video will take around three minutes to convert.
I can see this portable side of the SP being extremely useful for mobile users who haven’t got a free data plan. Instead of streaming video on the go, users will be able to preload their device before leaving their house using a broadband connection at home.
The social side to the SP is that users can share videos directly through email, Facebook and Twitter. However, this sharing is only done by sending links – so it’s hardly revolutionary.
RealPlayer SP will be available for free as well as a pay version – $40 in the States – which allows H.264 conversion as well as DVD playing/burning. Currently it only works on Windows – sorry Mac fans.
The portable side of this beta release looks great. I just wish it was available as a separate app rather than being lumped in with the whole RealPlayer package.
Download RealPlayer SP beta here.
Update: Having been given a demo of SP by the guys at Real yesterday, I think it’s only fair that I clear a few things up.
Firstly, although you still need to download and install the full RealPlayer package, there is no need to have it all running to use the new functionality. Sharing and converting can be done directly from the download manager. You can even share videos before they finish downloading. The download manager also allows for multiple downloading.
The sharing function is due to be expanded to other social media – the Facebook sharing function gives the best example of what can be achieved – videos are embedded directly to the user’s Facebook page. Another nifty feature is conversions can be done to multiple devices at once.
The full release will be in August and the premium version will be £24.99 or free if you’ve already got RealPlayer 11 plus.