We haven’t heard much from Real Networks recently, but we still regularly use its free RealPlayer program – mainly because the BBC uses the RealAudio format to transmit most of its radio stations on the internet.

However, the video side of RealPlayer has almost been forgotten these days. We were therefore pleasantly surprised to hear about this latest version, which adds support for Flash Video – the format used by YouTube and its rivals.

Flash feature

RealPlayer 11 isn’t a huge upgrade. The new ‘chrome’ interface makes it look more Mac-like, and its playlist and graphic equaliser features are improved. But it’s the Flash Video option that’s the most useful addition. It’s all centered on a new mini-program called Downloader – which does just what the name implies.

When you go to a page on YouTube, or any video-rich website that isn’t protected by DRM (digital rights management) or anti-piracy software, the Downloader can automatically download the video file on that page for you. It can also watch as you click from page to page and create a list of the videos you’ve looked at. You can then go over the list and select which files you want to download.

Of course, there are other programs that can do this, such as the free open-source Miro (www.getmiro.com). In fact, Miro is probably more versatile when it comes to helping you gather video from the web. However, RealPlayer’s strength is its additional support for internet audio (i.e. all those BBC radio stations). When it comes to internet radio, RealPlayer is still king.