DivX is great; its Mpeg4 video is a defacto choice for those in the know, much like FireFox, Ogg files, AMD desktop processors and a certain type of P2P software that shall remain nameless.
The major problem for DivX, however, was that while its technology offers fantastic compression and image quality, it did not have the flexibility to incorporate the multimedia aspects utilised by Mpeg2 in DVD. Namely interactive menus, scene selection, multi-language subtitles and alternative audio tracks.
Thankfully, this is all going to change because the latest version of the format (which offers 10x the compression rate of Mpeg2), can now do all the above. Called the DivX Media Format, it will standardise DivX content using a “.divx” file extension and erase the gap between itself and DVDs. On top of this DivX 6 adds high definition enhancements and between 20 and 40 per cent better compression again over DivX 5.
Even the way the software is distributed has changed, with the Free and Pro versions abandoned in favour of the “Play” and “Create” bundles. The first offers basic playback support, with the second - priced $19.99 - throwing in a converter to produce DivX files. Windows 2000 and XP users can grab there copies now (see link below), while 9x users are stuffed (as they are increasingly these days – just stop fighting and upgrade). A version for Mac will follow shortly.
In all, this development makes we wonder if next gen media formats HD DVD and Blu-ray might have a third standard to battle. With hard drives reaching massive sizes at low costs and 2Mbps broadband proliferating the market, could downloading these heavily compressed, interactive movies be the better option? Certainly, many of the better DVD players out there already support DivX, while units incorporating hard disks are ever more popular and even streaming is increasingly viable. There’s also no need to buy a whole new player and media… Hmmmn *strokes chin thoughtfully*