Democracy Player Review

very good
key review info
application features
  • The centerpiece of the Democracy platform, Democracy Player is a desktop application that aims to make Internet TV an enjoyable experience for even the least technically sophisticated user. The Player can view channels created with Broadcast Machine as well as a wide variety of other video sources on the Internet. It also integrates with the remaining two components of the Democracy platform: Channel Guide for promoting channels and Video Bomb for easy end-user republishing and social promotion of individual videos.
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Along with the intense development in the Internet area, the products and services increased and diversified allowing a better interference with other spheres and domains. One of these domains that took heavily advantage of the Internet's wide power of dispersion was the television. After it managed to cross the cable, satellite or terrestrial borders, the television conquered the Internet area too. Traditional TV content, but also new Internet-only television content, available freely and legally on different websites, have now become customary for everyone. So, don't tell me you never took a break while at work to watch some funny clip on, cause I won't buy it.

Besides Youtube, there are also a lot of websites providing video sharing, where users can upload, view and share all kind of video clips, interesting, funny, famous, horrifying, etc. From amateur videos up to notable movie, TV or music clips, everything is shared and free to watch for anyone interested. Almost all of the hosting websites also provide incorporated players to display the video content, based on different technologies. One day, while I was wandering on couple of these websites, I found that it would be nice to have a way of managing them, so that I won't get dizzy between all those browser tabs I had to keep count of. But the solution for this problem already existed and it was just a few clicks away. The guys from the Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF) set up in 2005 the Democracy Internet TV platform that takes in a Democracy Player, Video Bomb website, Broadcast Machine software for publishing channels and a Channel Guide also incorporated in the player. I declare that Democracy Player is one of the best Internet television applications ever. It can automatically download videos from RSS-based channels and play them back, and also has a nice way of managing them. It is free and open-source and integrates an RSS aggregator, a Xine Media Player and a BitTorrent client. Introductions aside, I can go ahead now and tell you about the amazing features I found inside this cute little player.

I don't even know what to start with: the lovely UI, the extraordinary way of managing the channels and videos, the miraculously simple configuring process, the excellence proved in accomplishing all tasks a common player should, and the list can go on. I'll start with the beginning, the Channel Guide. The Channel Guide is something like an open list of more than 1,000 internet TV channels from different categories, that you will first see when the player is started. It provides the possibility of submitting your own channels to the Guide. To do that, you'll only need to log in, using an account, which can be easily opened and is free. Along with this channel guide, Democracy Player also comes with some default channels already added, which you can simply remove or you can add new ones. Adding a channel is very simply, following the Channels -> Add Channel path, where you'd be asked only for the URL of the channel you want to add. In the same way you can add a search channel, Channels -> New Search Channel that would contain the clips that match a search term on a specific channel, search engine or URL.

The channels are set by default to update every hour, but you can also do it automatically with a right-click on the channel where a context menu will appear with update, remove or rename options. In order to watch a video on a specific channel, you'd have to download it first. The downloaded videos are kept for a 6 days default period and then they are erased. You can set this period to smaller amounts of time, like 3 hours or larger, maximum one month from the Settings button that appears in the small menu on the upper-right side of every channel. The small menu also provides a Recommend option, in case you see something you like and want to show it to your friends too. Democracy Player gives you the possibility to group all your channels in folders so you can keep a better count of them. Just go to Channels -> New Channels Folder and type in the folder name you want to create in the small dialog box that appears. Then just drag and drop channels into the folder.

I must admit the player's creators have had in mind anything I could ever want from it. For example, if I want to keep a clip after downloading it, and not to be deleted after a specified period, the player provides me the Save option. The Search tool is equipped with 6 of the most powerful video search engines: YouTube, Yahoo! Video, Google Video, Blogdigger, Revver and DailyMotion. Unfortunately, this default list cannot be edited and those are the only search engines you'll have, but for me, they are more than enough.

I was talking earlier of a nice and simple way of managing your videos. I think it's time to give some details about it. I have already told you about the clean way of handling the downloads and their expiring period. Now I will tell you about the My Collection and Downloading places on the left side menu where you will find all downloaded videos as well as the current running downloads which you can cancel anytime you want. One thing I did not like here was the fact that I am not provided a "Pause download" option. One thing I appreciated was that it resumes all downloads when the player is restarted. Another fact that is worth mentioning would be the way it manages your disk space. Thus you can configure the player not to start another download if your free space on disk drops below a certain value or you can set the maximum downloads number that can run at once.

The Good

Democracy Player is a free application working as an Internet TV video player. With a fine look'n'feel, it provides a very intuitive interface and currently supports a lot of video formats, to which others are added continuously, thus the user should not mind about them at all. As any serious player, it also offers the Fullscreen view mode.

The Bad

I can go on saying this player is great, wonderful, gorgeous, lovely a.s.o., though, it is not perfect. While playing with it, I've noticed that the Send this channel to a friend actually does nothing or that the Pause download option does not exist. I have also experimented some ugly crashes with certain videos, but they were not that many to make a big deal out of this.

The Truth

Democracy Player, also known as Democracy or DTV for short, is an Internet television client that can automatically download videos, manage them and play them back. It is part of the Democracy TV Platform and it is built on the open-source standards.

Please enjoy some nice screenshots of Democracy Player below:

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user interface 4
features 2
ease of use 4
pricing / value 5

final rating 4
Editor's review
very good