RealPlayer makes it easier to watch Web videos | Download Product Review - CNET Download.com

RealPlayer makes it easier to watch Web videos

RealPlayer 16 comes with improved support for watching YouTube and downloading videos for mobile devices.

RealPlayer 16 maintains its redesign from version 15 but changes a couple things under the hood, most notably the original "Featured" video section.

Installation process remains the same: Real uses a stub installer with optional offers of various products that you can choose to add or ignore. The sleek, metallic-colored interface from last year remains intact; the core video player, media library manager, and built-in burning tools remain virtually unchanged. The most noticeable overhaul exists in RealPlayer's new Web Videos tab.

Last year's features like private mode and the ability to view Facebook videos from within the interface still exist, but now reside in a grander direction toward content discovery. RealPlayer has greatly improved the use flow for finding new videos on the Web by aggregating some of the most popular content, enabling users to view them all from within the Real Player interface. The left column organizes video channels, beginning with the most preferential focuses (like bookmarked and Facebook videos), followed by a list of general categories similar to those found on aggregated video portals.

You can download videos directly from within the interface, a common but always useful feature for video players. RealPlayer 16 also comes with updated device profiles for the latest gadgets, including iPad 4 and Samsung Tabs. This means that you can download and convert videos into the most compatible formats, which RealPlayer will remember for future videos as well. Your downloaded content automatically gets collected into a Downloads & Recordings folder for easy viewing and recollection.

The video burning feature remains, but felt a bit lacking; RealPlayer lets users burn audio and video discs like VCDs and DVDs, but direct burning to Blu-ray support is still missing, despite the technology having been out for over half a decade. If Real wants to stand as a major presence as a premium media station, then limiting users to just burn AVCHD on smaller mediums instead of full Blu-ray format just won't cut it. Note that AVCHD content can still be played on Blu-ray players.

There's still plenty to love in RealPlayer, especially with the improved support for Web content; it's come a long way since the simple browser additions and RealPlayer has been slowly fine-tuning its design for a better user experience with minimal bloat as a free product. As a free product update, we highly recommend it.

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