Apple's video quality lags behind Real's but is pulling ahead of video codecs from rival Microsoft, new reports claim. has released two comparison reports, one looking at RealVideo, Windows Media, Flash and Apple's QuickTime H.264 codec; the other report assesses the quality of Flash video codecs.

The report declared that Flash and H.264 lagged behind RealVideo in quality.

"While the progress of H.264 and Flash codecs has been impressive," said report author Jan Ozer, "rumours of the demise of all other codecs have been greatly exaggerated."

In tests, the company compared RealVideo and Windows Media with the best available MPEG-4/H.264 and Flash codecs to identify which produced the best quality video at five encoding configurations (modem, 3GPP, 100, 300 and 500 k). A test clip included 38 clips grouped in sections for business, sports, entertainment, animation, and pan and zoom content.

The report found that Windows Media had started to fall behind: "With Microsoft's recent success in standards bodies, we expected quality to be at or near the top," said Ozer, "but usually it was at or near the bottom. Companies using or considering Windows Media really need to evaluate other technologies."

Apple, Microsoft and Real encoded the test clips to our parameters to ensure optimal quality.