DivX Connected Brought the Internet Video Experience to the Living Room

The groundbreaking DivX codec first became popular in the early 2000s, a more innocent time when Mac computers came in bright colors, Toby Maguire was Spider-Man, and the best way to get high-quality video content from the Internet was to download it to your computer. Of course, once you downloaded a DivX file it essentially took up residence on your hard drive, as there was no easy way to play a DivX video on a television.

Toby Maguire as Spider-Man

That all began to change in 2003, when the first DivX Certified® DVD player hit the market. Soon, millions of DVD players and other devices were DivX Certified, making it easy for users to burn DivX files to a disc (you *do* remember burning to CD or DVD, right?) or USB stick and play it back in all its full-screen glory in their living rooms, a method some in the industry called ‘sneakernet’. This was great as long as ‘download-and-play’ remained the dominant mode of media consumption for Internet video fans, Spider-menwhich it did for many years. Little did we all know know that, along with the end of boy band dominance and the introduction of Andrew Garfield … and later Tom Holland as Spider-Man, a streaming revolution lurked just around the corner…

When streaming video first appeared on the Internet, the experience was far from ideal. Technologies like Flash enabled only grainy, postage-stamp size video quality, and dial-up and early broadband connections were not fast enough to support anything resembling a high quality of service.

As technology improved and broadband became more ubiquitous, the streaming experience moved out from the Internet shadows. A small start-up called YouTube debuted in 2005, quickly gaining traction with a diverse collection of user-generated videos that were just “good enough” in terms of visual quality to attract a large audience. DivX Stage6, the first video sharing site to offer HD quality, came to the market soon after, along with a number of other sites. Video streaming had hit the mainstream.

Once users embraced streaming video online, they naturally began to clamor for a way to get that same content to the television without having to burn a disc or plug in an external hard drive. Early living room streaming solutions like Microsoft Media Extender and similar products from Apple brought media to the television, but unsurprisingly they tended to be proprietary, supporting only Windows Media or QuickTime playback, respectively. DivX, long the format of choice for online video, was not invited to the party.

Jerome “Gej” Rota, the creator of DivX and co-founder of the namesake company, conceived of a solution that would offer the kind of truly “open” experience that lay at the heart of the DivX phenomenon. Instead of a “walled garden” product that only supported a handful of technologies, he envisioned an open platform that would bring the vast, rich world of Internet media directly to the television. Thus, the DivX Connected platform was born.

In 2006, the DivX team began engaging with chip makers and consumer electronics manufacturers to find the right partners to make the DivX Connected vision a reality. D-Link, one of the world’s leading networking equipment manufacturers, shared the DivX Connected vision and the two companies began collaborating to create a video streaming device.

    DivX Connected Remote

The D-Link DSM 330 DivX Connected Media player was announced in August of 2007. Released first in Europe, the DSM 330 let users steam HD DivX files and wide variety of other formats directly to their televisions, no sneakernet required. Support for DivX Stage6 was built directly into the device, so even if you didn’t have a library of DivX movies sitting on a server, it was easy to find great content.

As Jerome Rota said at the time, “The DivX Connected platform is the next step in our high-level mission to transform the digital media experience and offer a truly new way to experience and discover content from the living room. We’re bringing the open and vibrant power of the internet to the world of consumer electronics devices.”

          Video promotion for DivX Connected

After a successful European debut, the D-Link DSM 330 hit the US in 2008. Internet video lovers and casual users alike were impressed by the device, and Wired magazine wrote, “DivX is now trying to work with anyone and everyone in the industry to release devices that can playback DivX-encoded content, including movies, MP3s, pictures, traffic information, weather – basically anything that can be wrapped up in a DivX format.”
DivX Connected ad

This open approach was embraced by the large, global community of DivX users. Jerome and the DivX team soon opened up the platform to third-party developers, and hundreds of “plug-ins” were created by the community to support all kinds of services and apps, ranging from photo-sharing to gaming and much more.

DivX Connected Plug-in screen DivX Connected Plug-in sample

The DSM-330 continued to sell well for a number of years, as more and more content and plug-ins were added by DivX the company and the DivX community. Over time, technology progressed to the point that connectivity was built directly into televisions, gaming consoles and DVD players, rendering a dedicated streaming device unnecessary, and DivX Connected eventually headed out for the sunset.

Ironically, streaming devices would find a new life when the popularity of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu gave rise to the Rokus and Fire TV sticks of the world. Like many early DivX innovations, DivX Connected was ahead of its time, but it’s innovations and consumer adoption helped pave way for the video streaming renaissance we’re all living in now.

banner for DivX Connected banner for DivX Connected banner for DivX Connected

Music Videos in Your Car … and the Return of the Car Mixtape

Unless you were born after 1999, you likely know the joy of a mixtape or mix CD. The enjoyment and effort of curating the perfect mix of 10-12 songs to give to a friend, significant other or keep for yourself was a time-honored tradition. The handwritten list of songs — along with the thoughtful care put in to song order — created the ultimate personal playlist to enjoy in the car, on your walkman or through a boombox. While I know you can make playlists on all the streaming music platforms, it’s definitely not the same as the pure, tactile experience of the mixtape. 

So why so nostalgic about mixtapes? Well, we all know watching videos while driving is a less-than-ideal way to stay alive. And you may know that many cars now have DivX Certified® devices that allow passengers to enjoy video in the car. You also may know that you can go online and download music videos to be played back later. Soooo, this means you can create a sweet “music video mixtape” (or “collection of videos on a disc or USB stick”) to play in your car. You can enjoy the music and your passengers can enjoy the videos. The mixtape (of sorts) is back!

Play music videos in your car

If you’re interested, you can learn more about DivX in-car playback or find out if you have a DivX Certified device. If you need to convert video to ensure it works on a DivX device, just use the free DivX Converter (included in DivX Software) And if you buy a new stereo for your car, and want to revisit the pure joy of creating a killer mix of tunes, don’t forget to look for the DivX logo.

Boombox not DivX Certified

DivX In-Car Playback: Highway to (Video) Heaven

For years I’ve been trying to get the office to go all in on a DivX Certified® car windshield to play stunning DivX® video while driving. I would get the usual responses like, “Ha, ha, ha, yeah totally … wait, you’re joking, right?”, and “Please stop talking to me about your absurdly dangerous windshield idea.” Ah, co-workers.

While my dream (nightmare?) of 4K windshields is on hold, playing video in your car is not.

DivX In-Car Devices

You may know that over a billion devices supporting DivX video have been shipped worldwide (Blu-ray players, TVs, gaming consoles, etc.), but you might not know that you can enjoy DivX video in your car. Each year, more and more in-car entertainment systems are capable of DivX playback, and supporting other video formats enabled by DivX technology as well. Brands such as Land Rover, Infiniti, Nissan, GM, Volvo, Hyundai and more are offering DivX-enabled features on many of their cars. This means you can bring your favorite videos on the road to entertain you and your passengers.
Say you’re going on a roadtrip with your family or friends and want to keep everyone occupied on the long drive. You can transfer movies to your car through a disc, USB drive or even SD card slot. With the low cost of storage, you can get a 16GB flash drive for less than $5 USD (I picked up a Kingston Digital 16GB for $4). And even 16GB will store tons of DivX video content since DivX video files have been compressed but remain high-quality.  

Finding Videos Online to Play in Your Car

There are many ways to download videos that you enjoy. In addition to peer-sharing, there are sites like Vimeo offering videos that can be downloaded to your computer. Even the kids (the young ones at least) luck out as you can download videos directly from Sesame Street’s site at https://www.sesamestreet.org/videos. Check out their collection of Sesame Street short videos, click on the video and select “Save video as…” to save a copy to your computer.

Playing Music Videos In Your Car

Skip the DJ banter and fast food ads on the radio by curating your own music video playlist. Find music videos online and download them to your computer. Depending on the file format, you can always drag and drop the file onto DivX Converter to convert the video to a format that will work in your car, such as the DivX Home Theater profile. (More on video conversion below.) Put those music video files onto a USB drive and take it to the car. Your passengers can enjoy their favorite videos and you can enjoy the music.

Why Doesn’t My Video Play in the Car?

Soon you’ll have an assortment of videos to keep your rear seat passengers entertained. The only problem is, the videos will likely be in a variety of formats that may not play in your car. For example, some car systems won’t play high definition MP4 files. You’re in luck as that’s where DivX Converter comes in (part of the free DivX Software suite). Simply drag and drop your videos on to DivX Converter, choose the Home Theater profile (many of the in-car systems are certified for standard definition playback) and click “Start”. DivX Converter crunches your video files down to the standard definition Home Theater profile that is compatible with your DivX Certified in-car system.

Once conversion is completed, simply copy the converted videos on to your USB flash drive and plug it into the USB port. That’s it. No need to worry about DVDs that warp in the hot sun or get coated with sticky fingers. The USB drive just plays file after file with no fuss. You can even watch along on the front seat monitor … while you are in park. While driving you’ll only hear the audio (no video) but that’s still pretty handy if you have a collection of music videos or TED lectures.

Registering your device is usually unnecessary

Keep in mind that you only need to register your device with DivX if have purchased DivX content to play. If your content was downloaded from Vimeo, Sesame Street or wherever, you won’t need to register your device to enjoy your videos. Just plug and play!

Now you know how to enjoy videos while you cruise around in your car. If I could just keep you another minute to pitch you on my 4K windshield/screen idea … wait, where are you going?

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