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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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May 31, 2007 11:39 AM

New RealPlayer: Click to rip video from the Web

Posted by Brier Dudley

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- The second big Seattle product launch at the D conference was today's unveiling of the new RealPlayer software jukebox, the 11th version so far.

(The first was Microsoft's Surface tabletop computer).

Real highlighted a new feature that lets users download video clips from the Web with a click and save them in a playlist for viewing later. Users can create folders with collections of videos on a particular topic, such as "political speeches" or "best YouTube flatulence ignitions."

When the player is running and you come across an online video -- even ads -- a small button appears above the frame and gives you the option of clicking to start the download.

Downloads aren't particularly fast, but they take place in the background and continue after you've moved on to another site.

The software works with all sorts of video formats, but not if the content has rights-management attached that prevents copying.

I was given a demonstration Wednesday by Harold Zeitz, Real's senior vice president of games and media software and services.

"The real innovation here is the universality of it and the fact that is enabled in such a simple way,'' he said. "We call it the one-click download.''

From the player, users can also send friends links to the content and burn copies of the videos onto CDs or DVDs that can be played in a DVD player.

Real has also simplified the installation process so people only have to go through three screens to set up the player.

A beta version of the software will be available for Windows users to download for free by the end of June. A Mac version is due by the end of the year.

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.