One of the more low key announcements that nearly went unnoticed last week behind the rash of new Sony Ericssons, O2's Cocoon, breakthroughs in projector technology, Samsung's latest stunning LCDs, another flagship mobile GPU, not to mention Apple's WWDC was this little gem...
On Wednesday SanDisk closed a deal with DivX which would enable it to include interoperability with the DivX Stage6 video website and support the ubiquitous DivX AVI compression format.
“This partnership aims to allow our customers to take full advantage of innovative video features and content found only through DivX,” said Daniel Schreiber, Senior VP and GM of SanDisk’s Audio Video Business Unit.
“Our agreement with SanDisk brings together pioneering consumer electronics with DivX’s expertise for digital video,” added DivX Head Honcho Kevin Hell. “Adding DivX to the Sansa product line’s arsenal of features will provide cutting-edge media capabilities to consumers, and strengthen the common media language we’re building through the open DivX ecosystem.”
Now the reason I included these quotes is because I think they're right – something that is rare with press release statements. Why? Well, despite lines such as the e200 series' admirable attempts to compete with the iPod in video they lack the vital compression benefits that Apple's copyrighted H.264 format brings.
Let me give you an example: a 350MB AVI file when converted by iTunes to play on an iPod shrinks to around 50-60MB, conversely on a Sansa – if anything – it stays the same, despite the drop in resolution and frame rates. The deal with DivX would virtually solve this and put the two once again on an even par with only their design teams the key differentiators.
Of course many would probably have preferred to see SanDisk use the copyright free Xvid standard, but DivX and Xvid are interoperable in 99.9 per cent of cases and both offer equally good scaling.
SanDisk says it will announce plans for DivX support in its product lines later this year. With the company's surprising decision to take the already impressive looking Sansa View back to the drawing board pre-launch I have a sneaking suspicion the two developments are related...