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If I had to make a list of things that the Internet doesn't need right now, more media players would be high on the list. So when I heard that Adobe had released their very own media player, I have to admit that I was pretty far from being excited.
But while I'm still pretty sure that we don't need more media players, I do have to admit that they may be onto something with the Adobe Media Player 1.0 that was released this week.
The Adobe Media Player is a good example of a rich Internet application; in fact, it was built using Adobe's AIR platform. And like all good RIAs the Adobe Media Player is both a desktop and Internet application.
And by far the biggest benefit of the Adobe Media Player is its ability to take online video content and deliver it for offline use. With the Adobe Media Player, users can select video content, download it, and then watch it at their leisure at moments when they may not have Internet access, such as when flying.
OK, I know. What's the big deal? You can download any video you want from BitTorrent and then watch it offline on any system you want to.
That's true. But for those who want to stay on the legal side of online video, there haven't been many options for offline video viewing.
But since the Adobe Media Player still has all of the DRM protections that content owners want but can still deliver video for offline use, for now this may be the best option for those who want to watch video from the Internet offline.
The Media Player itself is simple to use. Once installed, I could view through a catalog of video currently available through the Media Player and could select shows as favorites. The catalog has some nice sorting options but I would have liked to have seen more room for user customization.
Once a user clicks on a show it automatically starts downloading for potential offline use (if the content owner has allowed this). This was OK, but I would have preferred a more direct download option. Also, while I could track the progress of shows being downloaded, I couldn't just view shows that had already been downloaded. The only way to know is a small icon on the video's catalog thumbnail that says it has been downloaded and is available for offline viewing.
Video viewing itself was fine and I liked that if I paused or left a show I could later resume from where I left off.
Right now the selection of videos available is somewhat sparse, consisting mainly of public domain videos (like old Bugs Bunny cartoons) and a selection of television show clips and Internet video sites. A personal video feature makes it possible to add your own videos and watch them in the player, though chances are you already have something on your system that can play those videos.
It will be interesting to see if any of the big online video sites decide to opt for the Adobe Media Player. If Hulu.com, which already uses a Flash-based player, decides to use it, that would potentially put a good amount of quality and legal movies and TV shows that users could watch both online and offline with the Adobe Media Player.
The Adobe Media Player 1.0 runs on Windows and Mac OS X systems. To try it out go to http://www.adobe.com/products/mediaplayer/