DivX Plus improves player design and adds DLNA streaming over Wi-Fi | Download Product Review - CNET Download.com

DivX Plus improves player design and adds DLNA streaming over Wi-Fi

DivX Plus 9.0 introduces a cleaner and more simplified layout, but its Wi-Fi streaming is a mixed bag.

DivX Plus packs in a video player, codecs, and tools that cover the basic needs of streaming and converting your videos. It was considered one of the more popular video standards when high-definition content was first trickling to the Web. Version 9.0 brings with it updated features and some sleek changes to its look. So how does it hold up?

The core player has been skinned with an unobtrusive look and a dark, sleek interface. It doesn't compete for your attention with a bunch of bells and whistles or knobs. Nothing is meant to really distract you from watching your videos on the player itself or another DivX-certified device. The playlist button, for example, lets you quickly glance at your queued movies and be hidden with a single click. While you adjust settings or look at menus, the current video will continue playing in a small window on the bottom left corner like a PIP mode.

While playing a movie, you'll have access to basic audio enhancers to adjust settings for speech, music, or just about whatever is appropriate for the content. For example, we watched a gamecast and tweaked the settings to create a more livecastlike atmosphere.

The converter was also extremely simple: upon opening, we were greeted with clear instructions to just drag and drop the video. All the critical information such as output settings, directories, and menus is also spaced out and aligned to the corners. This may sound small, but from a usability standpoint, it goes a long way. The important information about conversion is displayed in digestible chunks without confusing the user through multiple menu sequences. You can convert and queue up multiple videos that each display properties like bit rates, dimensions, and audio track. Everything you need to know about the video file is visible without having to stray off path and right click through anything.

Though DivX claims conversion is much faster due to support for hardware acceleration, our results didn't seem to indicate much of an improvement. It took about 13 minutes to down-convert a 1080p 460MB MP4 file to 720p AVI. Respectable but not stellar...but then again, your mileage may vary depending on your hardware and file formats.

DivX Plus also introduces a wireless streaming feature for DLNA-compatible devices. The setup process for this was bittersweet: setting DivX Plus to communicate with your TV or console can either be straightforward or nightmarish.

We had no trouble setting up and streaming videos to a PS3, but sending a certain Carly Rae Jepson video to our Samsung Smart TV was insanely frustrating. Though this is more due to a not-so-intuitive interface on Samsung's part, it would have been nice to see some extra documentation included in DivX's help archives. Many of these devices are from major brands and you'd think that any sort of partnership or collaboration with such companies would bear the fruit of instruction. Though once DLNA streaming was finished, watching videos over the air turned out to be a pleasant experience. But only the most persistent audiences will emerge unscathed from such a frustrating process.

For its price range, DivX Plus is a sleek player that gets the job done without drawing too much attention to itself. DivX Plus' under-the-hood changes won't be all too noticeable for most users, but the software got us going to where we wanted to be without interruption. DivX Plus' visual tweaks are subtle, strategically set, and commendable, and as a player it definitely hold its own.

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