Sony announces plans to distribute content in DivX format.

Sony announced at CES their plans to take full advantage of the agreement they made with DivX to start distributing content to DivX enabled devices (such as their PS3) in DivX format:

Sony to distribute content in DivX format – ArsTechnica.com

A spokesperson for DivX, Kristina Weise, told Ars that this would offer consumers high-quality Hollywood content in DivX for the first time ever, and that the deal would cover “all titles in the Sony Pictures Television library.” She also said that all titles would be download-to-own, but that there will be some type of unspecified DRM. Tracking down those DivX Sony movies might be a challenge, though. “We have no announcements with retailers at this time,” she told us.

The news comes just a few weeks after Sony added official DivX support to its PlayStation 3, which had been announced in November. Microsoft beat Sony to the punch, however, with its fall update to the Xbox 360 that included support for DivX. At the very least, owners of next-gen consoles (save the Wii, of course) will be able to watch Sony’s movies whenever they become available. When will that be? Wise said that the movies will be available in DivX format on the same day as the DVD release of each title. Assuming there will be retailers to sell it, that is.

No word yet on what the DRM will consist of or what limitations it will have, but the fact that it’s DRMed at all pretty much means I won’t be buying said video files which is a shame. Still it’s a big win for the DivX folks and should help ensure that the format continues to thrive.

PS3 2.10 firmware adds DivX/XviD playback support.

Sony released the latest firmware for the PS3 yesterday which adds, among other things, support for the DivX codec making the PS3 a DivX Certified device. (That means game developers can use it in games unlike the Xbox 360 where only file playback is supported.) I’ve been looking forward to this for awhile because when new episodes of Doctor Who, Torchwood and other British shows are aired in England I tend to grab the XviD encoded files uploaded to the net so I can keep up until the DVDs are released here in the States. My purchase of the PS3 has been worthwhile in part for its ability to stream media from my PC to the TV set over my wireless network, but until yesterday I had to have my PC convert the files over to MPG4 on the fly and not only does that slow things down a bit, but it reduces the video quality considerably.

According to some reports on the net there seems to be a couple of quirks to the PS3’s playback in that if you’re using Windows Media Player 11 as your media server then DivX files will stream just fine, but XviD won’t (the two are more or less the same codec, just one is open source). Or at least that’s what some folks are reporting. I managed to stream a couple of XviD encoded files last night using nothing more than WMP11 on Vista without any issue at all and the picture quality was fabulous. If you use an alternative server such as TVersity then both file types will stream just fine or you can just copy the XviD file to your PS3’s hard drive or a memory stick and it’ll work fine that way as well. So if you’re trying it out and not having complete success there’s some work arounds you can test out.

I couldn’t be happier, though, as this saves me having to burn DVDs every time I want to watch shows on the big TV and requires a lot less setup than having to transcribe the files on the fly as I was doing previously. There’s a couple of restrictions in that the file size is limited to 2GB and you can’t play files encoded with older versions of DivX, but those shouldn’t impact my usage of the feature much. Other additions in this firmware include a voice changer feature for use with voice and video chat (not sure what for, but it might be fun to play games sounding like one of the Chipmunks) and the ability to use Remote Play to play PS1 games you’ve loaded onto your PS3 (either as a download or with a disc in the drive) on your PSP over the Internet, which is pretty nifty.

The PS3 will soon support DivX format files!

My decision to purchase a PS3 has just taken a giant leap up the “good move” ladder today as the folks over at Kotaku.com have confirmed that the PS3 will soon gain DivX support:

DivX Technology to be Added to PLAYSTATION®3

DivX Ecosystem to Expand Significantly with PS3

TOKYO & SAN DIEGO—(BUSINESS WIRE)—DivX, Inc. (NASDAQ:DIVX) today announced that DivX® video technology will be integrated into PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™) from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE). The popular computer entertainment system will be added to the ecosystem of devices that currently support DivX video playback. To date, over 100 million DivX Certified® products have been shipped into the market, and it is anticipated PS3 will significantly expand that number.

“We are excited to work with Sony Computer Entertainment to bring DivX to PS3,” said Kevin Hell, CEO of DivX, Inc. “Our technology will expand the multimedia functionality of PS3 by enabling users to enjoy access to the broad library of content in the DivX digital media format.”

I’ve been playing around with the streaming media function on the PS3 since I got it, but it doesn’t currently support DivX and that has limited its usefulness to me. I discovered that I could use Nero MediaHome to do real-time conversion of DivX files into a format the PS3 could handle, but it wasn’t an ideal solution as there ends up being some lag between when you start a video and when it actually starts playing. Once it’s going it’s pretty good, but there’s a noticeable pause or glitch every so often in the video stream so I’ve not bothered to use it much.

With direct support for DivX files the PS3 will probably come into heavy use as a streaming media device once the next season of Torchwood, Doctor Who, or The IT Crowd starts up.