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DivX returns to Web video with the HD-licious Vreel

DivX video makes a comeback with Vreel.

When I put together a small comparison test of video services earlier this year, an overwhelming number of people got on me about not including Stage6, a side project of the people behind the popular DivX codec to showcase what their technology was capable of. Shortly thereafter, Stage6 shut its doors in a rather dramatic fashion--giving users mere days to find somewhere else to host their high-resolution videos.

That was in February though, and since then a group of half a dozen developers has put together their own solution, called Vreel. Originally planned to launch back in March, it opened up its doors this morning.

Like its predecessor, one of the service's strong suits is that it uses DivX, a codec that's not as popular as Adobe's Flash for Web video, but beat it to market for delivering high-resolution videos and is largely the format of choice for videos found on sites like The Pirate Bay. Since then, Flash has caught up technologically, but high-resolution videos have not quite reached the mainstream, only popping up on sites like Dailymotion, Vimeo, and in a gallery on Hulu. The user-uploaded videos already filling up Vreel's servers are beautiful (albeit mostly illegal).

The service is allowing users to upload gargantuan video files by most standards. The current cap is 1GB, which is what many free Web storage services offer as their entire limit. I'm told users will be able to upload even larger sizes in the future. The best thing is that there's no time limit, so as long as your video is under the size cap, it can be as long as you want. Considering the news about YouTube extending its video length, this is a necessary move.

The short clip I uploaded earlier today came from my digital camera and was converted from AVI to DivX with no noticeable loss in quality. The one caveat there is that, to see it, users have to install the DivX Web player in their browser, the same thing you have to do with Flash and YouTube. DivX's player, however, has a few tricks up its sleeve. For one, you can pop out any video to its original quality, which on some widescreen videos looks just great. It's also got a much more complex options menu for every clip that lets you do fast forward and rewind, and even save the clip if you have a premium version of the player--the same kind of things you get with Apple's QuickTime.

Unfortunately, the one thing missing is a way to embed the clip on other sites, so if you want to see how it looks beyond the screenshot below, you'll have to go here

Update: Oops, looks like we helped take the site down. Removing links for the time being--will put them back up when the site returns.

Update 2: Vreel is getting more servers and should be officially "re-launching" soon. We'll keep you posted.

Update 3: Everything is back to normal. Links are back.

High-quality videos on Vreel shine. You can even view them in close to native resolution with a pop-out player. CNET Networks