If you mention the name 'RealPlayer' it tends to draw grimaces from the geek community. Once a champion of lightweight, streamlined efficiency it fell foul to the all too common curse of bloatware and third party advertising, but could it be about to make a renewed play for our hearts?
Today the company has released the first beta of Realplayer v11 for Windows and it brings with it some fantastic new options, foremost among them the ability to download streaming videos. Marketed under the 'Real it in' slogan, the new player displays a 'Download this Video' button in a web browser whenever a video is streamed. It then grabs the source of the video and downloads it to your desktop – even if you navigate away from the page.
Sadly however this feature respects DRM so will not capture premium content, but it does offer to email web links to any video you viewed/downloaded and supports simultaneous streams in flash, QuickTime, WM and (obviously) Real Media formats. The free version of the software also enables users to also burn this content to a CD, but you will need to sign up to the £19.99 'RealPlayer Plus' if you want to transfer it to DVD.
Interestingly, Real says the final version of RealPlayer 11 will also come with conversion software enabling downloaded video to be put straight into iPod and other PMP compatible formats. A Mac version of the software is also due later this year.
Only time will tell if this innovation will enable us to forgive and forget the treachery of this once beloved brand, but it's a start...