Friday, March 02, 2007

Software Review: Democracy Player

More and more content on the internet is in the form of video. Browsing sites like YouTube or Google Video can be fun, but what is really needed for serious viewing is a way to find, download, and organize all those videos from a single application. Less searching, more watching is what we want.

Democracy Player, available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, allows you to select from hundreds of channels, containing thousands of videos, for free, such as Homestar Runner or The NBC Nightly News. You can make your own channels, search video websites, and organize your collection.

The video guide allows you to add new channels and is easy to use, dividing the channels into categories such as animation, business, comedy, health, family, and so on. Channels are also tagged, allowing you to browse even more categories. You can search the video guide for specific items, or check out the most popular or recently added channels.

Channels can also be added manually from your favourite video site, as long as it has an RSS feed that is compatible.

Once a channel is added you can choose to have it download new videos automatically, or simply alert you to new videos and allow you to download the ones you want manually.

Democracy can also search your computer for video files, adding them to your collection. It picked up all of my videos, but it seems that it can't yet distinguish between Ogg Vorbis audio files and Ogg Theora video files, as my video collection ended up containing many audio files.

You can also search video websites such as YouTube, Yahoo Video, Google Video, Revver, Blogdigger, Daily Motion, and Your searches can be saved as channels so that new videos meeting your search terms will be automatically updated. If you want to be able to keep up on the newest "three toed sloth" videos, or even something a little more practical, this is a great feature.

The New Videos option can display all your unwatched downloaded videos. You can browse them and watch only the ones that interest you, or have them all played one after the other.

The Democracy Player website also has a helpful page with information and tutorials on starting your own channel, allowing you to star in your own videos to be watched by potentially thousands of people.

Democracy Player has lots of features for organizing and watching internet video, and yet is very simple to use. This excellent piece of free software is continually under development, so expect to see even more features in the future.

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