RealPlayer G2

The ability to listen to music, live concerts and sampled soundbites, or to watch TV stations around the world, has become one of the fastest growing arenas on the Internet. Audio tools like RealPlayer G2 from Real Networks allow you to listen-in live through your Mac to sites streaming sound or video files from their servers. RealNetworks’ RealSystem – of which RealPlayer G2 for the Mac is a part – is a popular and fully fledged Web-broadcasting platform. Enhancements in this new version of RealSystem G2 include added support for MPEG; Advanced Streaming Format; AVI; JPEG; .WAV and VIV. RealText streams live text, and RealPix streams still images with TV effects such as fades and wipes. Smart Stream makes auto bandwidth adjustments. Audio dynamite
RealPlayer G2 for Mac is small, easy to install and use. It is well presented with the added bonus of a dedicated Web site. You connect to the Real Guide Web site where links to of all the sites that offer RealAudio content can be found. Listing them by categories such as news, society, show business, and sport, there are over 75 channels to choose from. There is a lot less UK-specific content to log into than the wide range offered by sites in the US, but UK sites include ITN’s live 6 O’Clock News-on-demand clips, Virgin Radio and Capital FM radio stations.

OUR VERDICT

The interface itself was slightly irritating to use with Windows-style bars. The connection was generally solid and the sound quality excellent. According to RealSystems, the frequency response is increased by 80 per cent for those still on only 28.8Kbps modems. When downloading slowed to a crawl or tripped up, as it can tend to do at busier times of the day on the Internet, it didn’t cause too much interruption. The downloading quickly caught up with the play-back. The buffering worked very efficiently most of the time. To allow you to tweak the sound quality, RealPlayer also has a Graphic Equalizer option. You can specify bass boost and presence lift, and also alter video quality controls. You can spend hours channel surfing in RealPlayer to your hearts content – and not just to avoid the various adverts that inevitably appear before the content.

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