RealTime IT News

RealNetworks' RealOne Goes Gold

Seattle's RealNetworks Inc. took the next step on the path to trump Microsoft Corp. in digital media software supremacy Tuesday with the Gold code release of its RealOne software.

The Gold release means RealNetworks has put the finishing touches on the software code. But more interestingly, this final stroke comes with TurboPlay, which allows near-instant playback of RealVideo and RealAudio possible for broadband PC users. Hate that 8-second buffer pause? RealNetworks has sped up the queuing process so that a user may click and wait just a second or two before content playback begins. To be sure, Microsoft is prepping similar technology, called FastStream, for its next media software release, called "Corona," but RealNetworks is first to market.

TurboPlay's also features speedy fast-forward and rewind capabilities to spruce up the content digestion experience for users viewing anything from sports highlights to movie trailers or music videos. Moreover, broadcasters will not require content providers to re-encode content or upgrade their servers with the final RealOne.

One digital media expert, Larry Gerbrandt, chief content officer for research firm Kagan World Media, called the improvement a "quantum leap" in streaming media.

"TurboPlay elevates streaming to the performance levels consumers already expect from traditional broadcast media," Gerbrandt said. "Furthermore, the fact that there is no server retrofit required for content providers gives TurboPlay a significant advantage in the marketplace."

New software features aside, RealNetworks is offering premium media content services to accompany it, such as RealOne SuperPass, which offers Condensed Games from Major League Baseball Advanced Media (basically a system of 4,000 audio game summaries); Exclusive Oscars from E! Networks, which offers fans premium content from the "red carpet" and post-show festivities; and RealOne Radio featuring over 40 stations of commercial-free radio.

How much does this cost? For the first 14 days, users may register for a free trial. After that, RealOne SuperPass with TurboPlay costs $9.95; also, for music lovers there is the RealOne MusicPass, which costs $9.95 a month for 100 downloads and 100 streams of music tracks from top MusicNet artists and 40+ radio stations. For digital media content lovers who want it all, there is the RealOne SuperPass Gold, which is priced at $19.95 a month for 125 downloads and 125 streams, plus all the content from SuperPass subscription.