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DivX updates digital video technology

The maker of online movie-trading technology releases the latest version of its DivX 5.0, marking the latest step in the company's quest to put its underground past behind it.

DivX Networks on Monday released the latest version of its digital video technology, DivX 5.0, marking the latest step in the company's quest to put its underground past behind it.

The company says DivX 5.0 includes improvements to image quality, compatibility with the MPEG-4 format, and a command-line interface designed to let advanced users enter all encoding commands in a single string.

Calling it "one of the coolest and most advanced features of DivX 5.0," DivX introduced what it called "psychovisual modeling," which selects image data in the encoding process based on how people perceive motion, light, and color, and places that data where the eye is most sensitive to it.

DivX, long dismissed as a distant rival to Microsoft's Windows Media, RealNetworks' RealMedia and Apple's QuickTime technology, has been struggling to establish a means of making money following its rabid adoption by video-traders on free peer-to-peer trading networks.

As part of that campaign, DivX has been allying itself with a number of technology and entertainment industry players, including the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics, one of the companies behind the MP3 format, and The Jim Henson Co., which will create promotional CDs featuring "The Muppet Show" video clips encoded in DivX in honor of the show's 25th anniversary.

Last year, the Broadway Television Network, which produces and distributes digital recordings of Broadway musicals, implemented DivX technology for its video-on-demand service at BroadwayOnline.com.

Among other improvements, the company says its new software offers up to 20 percent faster performance and file sizes up to 20 percent smaller than in previous versions.

Along with the 5.0 release, DivX released a preliminary test, or "alpha," version for the Mac OS, and an alpha test of the DivX Player 2.0.

The new version is compatible with content designed for previous incarnations of DivX, from 3.11 alpha and prior.