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DivX releases new, high-quality video format

Is the technology better than Apple's or Microsoft's? That's what the upstart video company says.

Upstart video technology company DivX released a new version of its digital video tools on Wednesday, claiming its quality matches or betters the latest rivals from Apple Computer or Microsoft.

The new technology, the sixth full release from the small San Diego company, is aimed at boosting DivX's role in the consumer market, and is designed for storing high-definition personal movies and even for distributing commercial movie releases.

The tools will be "interoperable with millions of DivX Certified DVD players and other devices," said Jordan Greenhall, chief executive officer of DivX. The video technology has "better performance, visual quality and wider interoperability than any other video technology on the market," he said.

DivX has evolved over the past few years from a technology largely used by people swapping Hollywood films online to something that is being taken seriously by the consumer electronics industry.

While lacking the marketing budget of an Apple or Microsoft, it has created a high-quality format that, at least in some online tests, has kept pace with its larger rivals. Some content, largely from independent studios, is now being released legitimately in the format.

Along with menu support, the DivX 6.0 tools allow subtitling in multiple languages and the addition of extra audio tracks, heightening the similarity to DVD features. They also allow a quick conversion from other file formats into DivX.

The uncertainty in high-definition video formats has brought a handful of nontraditional media companies into the business.

A version of Microsoft's Windows Media 9 has been accepted as a standard to be supported on next-generation DVD players and discs, following the company's rare decision to release the technology to standards-setting bodies.

Nero, a company primarily known for its CD- and DVD-recording software, is also trying hard to reinvent itself as a video codec company. Like DivX, it is marketing its Nero Digital, a version of the standard MPEG AVC technology with some proprietary add-ons, as a potential format for commercial distribution, and is trying to win support from hardware makers.