RealPlayer SP Reaches the Mac

By  |  Monday, February 8, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Last June, I wrote about RealPlayer SP, a cool new version of the venerable, not-universally-beloved media player that shifted its emphasis. Instead of primarily being about playback, it served as a hub for easy conversion of Web video for playback on a bevy of devices–MP3 players like the iPod, smartphones, gaming consoles, and more. At the time, RealPlayer SP was a Windows-only product, but Real said it would bring it to Mac users by the end of 2009.

It took a little longer than the company thought, but a beta version of RealPlayer SP for OS X is available for download now–Real gave me a sneak peek last week–and is largely similar to the Windows version. A utility runs in the background and watches as you view videos at YouTube, DailyMotion, MetaCafe, and others that offer DRM-free content. As in RealPlayer 11, SP’s predecessor, you can download video files to your Mac for later playback in Real itself. But now you can also transfer them to forty-plus gadgets with a couple of clicks. RealPlayer chooses a format and settings, does the conversion, and even places the resulting video in the proper location for syncing when possible. For instance, it dumps video destined for an iPod or iPhone into iTunes, so it’s transferred the next time you sync.

If you don’t like RealPlayer’s defaults or own a gizmo that’s not in its list, you can tweak the conversion settings yourself (including using an option to create audio-only files from videos you’ve downloaded). You can also convert videos in batches, and even created more than one file–say, a high-res one to watch on your Mac, and a low-res one for your phone. In short, it offers as much stuff aimed at conversion nerds as it does for folks who just want to watch Web video on a variety of devices. And it does a nice job of concealing the complexity unless you want it.

Beyond the new video conversion features, RealPlayer SP’s other major addition is a social sharing option: When you come across a video online that you want to tell your pals about, you can post a link to it via Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace. The standard text includes a plug for RealPlayer, but you can delete it if you choose.

RealPlayer SP for Windows comes in both a free version and a $40 one with more H.264 video support and built-in DVD burning. Mac users just get the freebie edition, which includes unlimited H.264 but doesn’t burn DVDs. (You can, however, prep video for OS X’s own DVD-burning feature.) The Windows version also bundles Google Chrome into the installer, making you opt out if you don’t want it or already have it. But the Mac installer didn’t  try to install anything else or otherwise pitch me on anything related or unrelated to the software, and didn’t install any adware on my system.

I did encounter a couple of (minor) glitches with the beta–most notably that it failed to convert one video until I tried a second time. Overall, though RealPlayer SP is an extremely simple way to accomplish a task that formerly took multiple pieces of software and, sometimes, a bit of technical knowledge. It’s what I’ll use from now on when I’m snagging video from the Web via my Mac to watch on my iPhone.

A few screenshots of the software in action:

 
26 Comments


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26 Comments For This Post

  1. Stilgar Says:

    Video player or ad delivery service? I stopped using anything from Real over a decade ago because I got tired off unchecking all the ad-delivery boxes in the install process. And doesn’t this software violate the ToS of various streaming video sites?

  2. Lars Wilkinsson Says:

    @Stilgar: I agree. I don’t like Realplayer. The sound and videos were good but it uses very long time to load on my computer and it’s so loaded with ads and what have you.

  3. Martin W Says:

    Hi!

    While realplayer used to be a quite good player the last version really let me down. First of all I didn't like the sound quality all that much and like Eddie and Stilgar writes above, there is too many ads and stuff. I've unstilled it and will never use it again. Am I too negative?

    Keep up the good insightful reviews.

    Best
    Martin

  4. Ted Jensen Says:

    @Lars: You agree with Stilgar and I agree with you. :)

    Back in the day I was trained in web media by Real at their headquarters, I thought they really had it going on at the time, but they slowly slipped behind the curve. I think there are some much better options for file conversion and encoding on the Mac. It's no longer available, but if you can find a copy of VisualHub grab it. I just love that thing! Also, the latest version of Handbrake is pretty darn handy.

  5. Jeannie Says:

    "Beyond the new video conversion features, RealPlayer SP’s other major addition is a social sharing option: When you come across a video online that you want to tell your pals about, you can post a link to it via Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace. " This is kind of cool.

    I have used Real Player, but moved on to something else. I had some of the same complaints as above commentors. If that was all that was available, I would go with it, but there is much more out there, that is better in my opinion.

  6. Dave Says:

    @Stiglar – "And doesn't this software violate the ToS of various streaming video sites? " – You would expect a company like Real to have their bases covered on that point? Time will tell. But like how everything is bundled together.

    I'm off to look for Visualhub or Handbrake and give them a go too.

    Dave
    site – interview questions and answers

  7. MNels Says:

    Before my Mac I didn't have a problem using RealPlayer, unfortunately I have never had any luck with it since changing my system. I tried and tried and tried and still got no where when trying to stream video. Sorry but I agree with the previous posts…..too much trouble than it's worth.

  8. BobRevolution Says:

    Yep. One more vote here for the fact that Real, while 'looking good', was just too much of a pain in the *ss to deal with. I haven't tried handbrake yet, but this is like the 5th time I've heard about it this week (and it's only Wednesday! lol) When I get home (and don't have to worry about someone looking over my shoulder at what I'm doing…), I'm definitely going to give that a shot. I appreciate the multiple voices here that I think will finally push me in the right direction (or at least, "a" good and right direction… as many have said, there are a lot of good options out there. Real is simply no longer one of them).

    Just keepin' it real [/pun]

    Bob
    – from BOB Revolution

  9. George McBarnes Says:

    I started using Linux Ubuntu 3 months ago. I installed the program "Music Player". It can stream directly to my PS3 with no problems. It updates my Last.fm account, and it plays multiple file formats. It is highly recommended.

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  10. Mark Says:

    This is weird because despite the previous comments I really like RealPlayer and find playback very smooth.
    Mark from PC Health Advisor

  11. Annette Says:

    I still have RealPlayer installed on my computer. It was not too bad, but I found that it would not play some of the new stuff, so ended up with VLC Media Player. I am happy with that.

  12. Lucille Says:

    I might still have Real Player, it was okay, but over the years I have found other things I thought better. Like another poster, I have switched over to the VLC player and am pleased with it.

  13. Merry Says:

    RealPlayer is designed for windows, you can't transfer vinyl LP records to CDs for Mac :((

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  17. Brenda Says:

    Real player is my default player too. I find it has some nice features, but recently got a blue screen when I tried to play something. I am told that has to do with my drivers. I have got to look into it., as I need to look at the course I bought.

  18. Robert Sharp Says:

    I dislike real player. I have always had problems with it. I prefer to use winamp.

  19. James Says:

    Winamp used to be my favourite. I'll take VLC player over anything for now.

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  25. alem Says:

    RealPlayer was always my faw… i remember 6-7 years ago it was the thing.. the best player out there.

    I guess today there are more and better players.. but RealPlayer has still a spot on y computer :)

  26. new iphone Says:

    The RealPlayer SP works very with Apple products inlcuding mac computers, iphones, ipads, etc. It's a nice piece of software. I glad it is not just for PCs. new iphone