On2.com Improves Narrowband Streaming

On2.com (www.on2.com), a broadband application service provider, announced a new narrowband-focused compression technology, VPX, which will be available in beta on December 19. Previous to this release, the company will be demonstrating the technology at Streaming Media West in San Jose.

VPX aims to bring a better viewing experience to 56k modem users. According to Doug McIntyre, On2's president and CEO, VPX is a more efficient codec, and on the server side, makes streams multiple bit rates adjust to the bandwidths available. The technology was designed for a default screen size approximately 3 by 4 inches, significantly larger than comparable narrowband video players. The company is claiming VPX prevents the freeze frame and slide show effects that normally accompany low bandwidth video. Instead, when the bit rate is slowed, the screen becomes more pixilated, rather than freezing all together. McIntyre compared this to a TV watching experience when the reception is bad, and stated the belief that viewers would be more accepting to this more familiar experience.

"This product, like television, handles degradation of signal over the Internet as TV does, by optimizing the quality of the video, instead of stopping it altogether or defaulting to a slideshow, two very un-TV like experiences,'' McIntyre said.

On2.com, founded in 1992 and based in NewYork, previously released TrueMotion VP3, touted as an advanced full-motion, full-screen, TV-quality video compression and streaming technology for broadband. In October, a plug-in for On2's VP3 codec was made available for Apple's QuickTime 5, allowing QuickTime users to decode On2-encoded content. RealNetworks has also agreed to distribute the On2 VP3.2 plug-in over RealNetworks' Auto-Update Server.

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