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Apple QuickTime 6.0 Pro review:

Apple QuickTime 6.0 Pro

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The Good Creates and plays a huge variety of media, including the new MPEG-4 streaming format.

The Bad Difficult to learn; no Windows tech support; buggy; MPEG-2 plug-in costs an extra $20.

The Bottom Line If you want to create streaming media for your Web site and are willing to put in some long hours, QuickTime Pro 6.0 is a handy tool. But if you simply want to stream movies, download the free player.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

6.0 Overall

Review Sections

By Dan Tynan

With the $30 QuickTime 6.0 Pro, Apple lets you create and play streaming video and audio and offers nifty features you won't find in RealNetworks' RealVideo or Microsoft's Windows Media Player. (Full-screen video playback, anyone?) QuickTime 6.0 also supports the new MPEG-4 compression scheme, but QuickTime newbies will find the program's many tools baffling, and the Windows version suffers notable flaws, such as no phone tech support. Buy the full version only if you're serious about creating streaming Web content; everyone else should just download the free player. By Dan Tynan

With the $30 QuickTime 6.0 Pro, Apple lets you create and play streaming video and audio and offers nifty features you won't find in RealNetworks' RealVideo or Microsoft's Windows Media Player. (Full-screen video playback, anyone?) QuickTime 6.0 also supports the new MPEG-4 compression scheme, but QuickTime newbies will find the program's many tools baffling, and the Windows version suffers notable flaws, such as no phone tech support. Buy the full version only if you're serious about creating streaming Web content; everyone else should just download the free player.

Cool tools
QuickTime Pro isn't a full-fledged video editor like Apple iMovie or Pinnacle Studio DV, but it offers rudimentary tools for patching together streaming clips. For example, you can use QuickTime 6.0 to stitch together digital video of all your kids' birthday parties and put a streaming version on your site. Or, use the app to create a simple slide show--mixing text slides, photos, and a soundtrack--and e-mail it to colleagues across the country.

As a playback device--say, just to watch online video or view a DVD on your machine--the free version of QuickTime 6.0 keeps up with its predecessors. Our streaming tests revealed smooth video delivery and superb-sounding audio. And the program's Instant On capability lets cable and DSL users avoid annoying buffer delays while online media streams to the hard drive. (Sorry, dial-up folks; it won't help you.)

MPEG letdown
If you're looking for slick file compression, QuickTime 6.0 provides it. The new version lets you view and create MPEG-4 files, which provide higher quality streaming video and audio, smaller file sizes, and protection against illegal copying--in theory, at least. Currently, manufacturers are busy building MPEG-4 support into devices from cell phones to smart TVs, so you'll be able to play back the video you create in QuickTime on a wide range of devices.

Unfortunately, months of wrangling over royalties with MPEG-4's licensing body have left the format in limbo; there's very little MPEG-4 video available on the Web today. So, despite all the hype, you'll only be able to create your own MPEG-4 video; you won't be able to use QuickTime to watch Hollywood blockbusters, such as Austin Powers, in all their groovy MPEG-4 glory. And speaking of support, if you want to view MPEG-2 files--the format used in DVD movies--you'll have to pony up an additional $20 for a decoder. Windows Media Player doesn't include an MPEG-2 decoder, either, for licensing reasons.

Support-free--as in, nonexistent
Need help with QuickTime? If you're using it on a PC, forget it. Windows users get absolutely no phone support, aside from that for installation. A sympathetic support tech directed us to a QuickTime for Windows discussion group buried deep inside Apple's site, where Apple technicians read and respond to questions. We found many questions from perplexed Windows users--but no answers. Mac users, on the other hand, get priority in the discussion group, as well as the aforementioned helpful phone techs.

QuickTime 6.0 Pro for Windows also leaves some bugs to swat, ranging from annoying little flaws (it can't open files with names longer than 64 characters) to more serious issues. For example, the program may not run properly if your PC has the older QuickTime 32 version installed, and removing that program means editing your Windows Registry--not a task for the timid. We found Mac performance much smoother and more reliable.

QuickTime 6.0 Pro is strictly for users who are already familiar with the ins and outs of QuickTime or for those who need to create streaming video on a tight budget and are willing to put up with the hassles. Otherwise, just download the free player and enjoy the show.

QuickTime Pro 6.0 looks like TV for your PC, complete with an onscreen picture and audio controls, which you can easily turn off.

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