With encouragement from me, my neighbor bought a Mac. It seems I told him that whatever apps he ran on Windows, he could also run on his new Mac.
To my surprise he downloaded and installed a Mac version of an audio and video player that I thought was discontinued years ago. Why? My neighbor thought it was the best player ever on Windows. Likewise, it must be the best player on a Mac.
Not Your Daddy’s Audio & Video Player
Mac users do not have a shortage of media players. There are many audio and video formats and many players. From QuickTime handles most files. iTunes is what most of us use. Microsoft is out of the game.
What’s left? Remember Real Player? It turns out that it’s not dead.
That’s what my neighbor installed on his shiny new Mac and he loves it.
Unfortunately, that type of Windows-bred love does not extend to my neighbor’s neighbor. Me. I have some bad memories of Real Audio and Real Player. How is RealPlayer the best Mac app for video and audio files? Beats me.
My neighbor thinks it is. Why? He was told it was the original media player. He used it for years on his Windows PC. He didn’t know there was anything else other than Microsoft.
The Nice Looking Zombie Player
Here’s what you get with Real Network’s RealPlayer SP (the latest version for Macs). An audio and video player. A file converter. Easy uploads to MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook. Now, check this. The installation screens.
When was the last time an application installer asked you about the speed of your internet connection? Seriously. It’s not that speed isn’t important. It is.
If you’re using dial up and trying to download audio and video files you’re likely a very patient person. The RealPlayer installer asks a few more strange questions, including the media types you want to use. Real-Time Streaming Protocol, RealNetworks Media Package, Scalable Multicast, SMIL Multimedia Presentation, Flash, QuickTime, and a few others.
Notice how Apple rolls compared to RealNetworks. Check the Preferences in QuickTime. Check the Preferences in RealPlayer SP.
I didn’t know an audio video player could do so much. All these preference settings made my neighbor happy. Not having to set any preferences makes me happy.
Windows Users Click, Mac Users Play
Now begins the journey—a different journey for Windows users vs. Mac users. RealPlayer’s Preferences have eight different sections. The General section has Window Resizing, Logging, Recent clips, and Update settings.
The Content section lets you adjust Cache settings, change the Language, and add Accessibility settings for hearing or sight impaired viewers. The Connection settings include bandwidth adjustments. Trust me. If you’re on dial up, don’t bother using RealPlayer SP. Otherwise, the settings won’t matter much.
Playback buffering can be changed, including a caching system known as PerfectPlay. The Internet tab has more to do with RealNetwork’s servers than anything else. Proxy and Transport settings are for the geekier Mac users.
That leaves Media Types and the actual Player. There are plenty of media types, so you must know what you want, and why. The RealPlayer? That’s the fun part.
You guessed it. It’s an audio and video player. Use the menus to grab or Open video files or music files. It all works like QuickTime Player with a different skin. But it works.
The sound is good, there was no noticeable stuttering or stumbles, and the controls worked better than expected (meaning, they actually worked). The real fun will be in taking audio and video files and moving them to my iPod and iPhone.
Wait. That doesn’t happen through pull down menus. It happens through yet another Real app—the Converter.
At this point I had to give consideration to two immediate thoughts. The first was to congratulate RealNetworks for still existing. Honestly. I thought they’d closed up shop a couple of years ago.
I don’t know a single Mac user (until now) that uses RealPlayer.
Second, I congratulate RealNetworks for recognizing that many millions of their Windows-using customers have switched to the Mac.
That means they have a built-in user base already familiar with the arcane world of RealNetworks and RealPlayer but who have switched from the Dark Side to the Light but still love all those buttons and settings and the built-in inconvenience.
RealPlayer SP is indeed the best Mac app for video viewing and audio playing—if you’re a Windows switcher who wants something familiar on your shiny new Mac.