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Progressive fine-tunes video

Progressive Networks is trying to take some of the hassle out of watching Net video with a new version of its RealVideo software.

Tuning in to video on the Net is still a far cry from the simplicity of flicking on the boob tube. Still, Progressive Networks is trying to take some of the hassle out of watching video online.

The company has introduced a new beta version of its RealVideo streaming technology, including the RealPlayer, RealServer, and RealVideo Encoder. Most of the improvements in RealVideo beta 2 are minor enhancements to the quality and ease of viewing.

Progressive is trying hard with video to repeat its success in dominating the Net audio streaming market with its RealAudio product. Streaming technology allows users to listen to sound clips or watch videos as they are being transmitted from a site, rather than having to wait for them to be completely downloaded.

Among the improvements to beta 2 of RealVideo is a smart networking feature that makes it easier to tune in to video broadcasts behind corporate firewalls, some of which are set up to permit only standard Web traffic to pass.

A new "dynamic stream thinning" feature could make listening to broadcasts more bearable. When an Internet connection starts to get fuzzy, for example, the feature will slow down display of video images while maintaining the quality of audio.

Progressive has also come up with a Destinations feature that lets users create preset Internet radio or video channels for easier access.

Progressive has posted a Web page describing the new improvements on its site.