DivX Targets Sneakernet With New Release

DivX Inc. (s DIVX) is releasing a new version of its media player today that tries to bring web video downloads to legacy devices without Internet connectivity. The new DivX player, which is part of a free software suite called DivX Plus, can convert downloaded videos and transfer them to USB drives or burn CDs or DVDs to play on DVD or Blu-ray players, DivX-compatible TV sets or Sony’s PlayStation 3.

The company also revamped all of its other products as part of the DivX Plus launch. Most notable are some additions to the DivX codec pack that make it possible to play 1080p H.264 videos on some netbook models through DXVA hardware acceleration, as well as a free MKV converter that should make the HD container format even more popular.

For a while the company has been touting the more than 250 million DivX-certified devices in the market place. However, most of these devices are legacy DVD players and similar hardware that’s capable of playing back DivX files. Many consumers probably don’t even know that their devices are DivX-certified, or they wouldn’t know how to convert a movie they recently downloaded to play on their DVD player.

DivX’s new Plus player wants to take care of these issues by simplifying file conversion with DivX devices in mind, and it actually seems to work pretty well, judging from a few tests I was able to do in recent days.

Users simply have to click on the device type of their choice, select whether they’d like to burn a disk or transfer media via USB drive, find a file they’d want to transfer — and have a little bit of patience, depending on the power of their machine. I successfully burned a couple of CDs and DVDs with converted files and was able to play them on an older DVD player without any hiccups.

Of course, DivX isn’t the first company to enable the sneakernet through media conversion tools. BitTorrent client maker Vuze has been offering its users the ability to convert files for playback on iPods, TiVo DVRs and Apple TVs, amongst other things, and doubleTwist has put a lot of energy into a client that syncs with PSPs and iPods as well as Blackberry and Android mobile phones. Company representatives told me that the DivX Plus player will soon also support conversion for and syncing with DivX-certified cell phones, but the goal for this version was to bridge the gap to many devices that are already in people’s living rooms.

That’s a smart move for the company. DivX recently made headlines with its new TV platform, and it has been trying to get more Hollywood content through partnerships with VOD vendors like CinemaNow. However, VOD isn’t bringing in big bucks for anyone yet, and DivX might have a hard time competing with heavyweights like Vudu in the connected TV platform game. The company’s bread and butter is still its codec and video player, and making those more useful by leveraging the huge legacy hardware base already out there might just be what DivX needs to stay relevant.

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