RealPlayer may have been around since 1995 and once stood as one of the de facto ways of accessing web-based video, but with the rise of Flash it's fallen out of the mainstream somewhat. A trend Real hopes to counter with the launch of RealPlayer SP, with "simple" and "portable" the buzzwords of the moment.
The flagship feature of RealPayer SP becomes evident on any website with (unprotected) video on it. Hover over the video Window and a RealPlayer logo pops up, giving access to a menu offering a range of options. Two, quick-posting of links to web-based video on either Twitter or Facebook aren't exactly exciting.
More interesting is the ability for RealPlayer SP to download any video, ready to be played back offline. Better still, the player has a built-in transcoding engine enabling videos to be converted to an appropriate format for a huge number of devices simply be selecting that media player (or mobile phone) from a drop-down list.
Obviously Real has to make its money somehow, so h.264 conversion is only available in the full - £24.99 - version of RealPlayer SP. That also nets DVD playback and burning from within the player, for those after such features.
The video-download plug-in works in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome and although Realplayer SP is currently Windows only, a Mac version is promised before the year is out which will likely bring Safari support to the Windows version, too.
Obviously all the abilities sported by the previous RealPlayer (version 11, if you're counting) are present, including access to a huge number of Internet radio stations, music videos and games. The Beta of RealPlayer SP is available now, with the full release coming soon.