Popcorn Time Review – Watch the Latest Movies and TV Shows for Free

excellent
key review info
application features
  • No wait or download time
  • (3 more, see all...)

Popcorn Time is a P2P media player built for one purpose – to allow its users to watch the latest TV shows and Movies directly from torrent sources, without downloading the actual files. It sounds illegal, but the developers say it's not.

Most people would say that downloading a movie from a P2P website and watching it without paying anything is illegal, but that is actually debatable and depends from country to country. Whether this is moral has nothing to do with the way the application works, so we won't dwell on it any longer. It’s your duty, as a user, to decide if you want to employ this application or not.

Popcorn Time can be simply considered a media player, but its developers (who have remained anonymous) say that it was made to show how the current system used by regular distribution channels is broken. The project even went dark for a while after getting too much attention, but the devs have bounced back.

The application is open source and is hosted on GitHub, which means that anyone can take it and do pretty much what they want with it. In fact, a couple of forks have already been made, but the developers from the initial project have said that their work is not acknowledged by the others.

Installation

Popcorn Time comes as an archive and users just have to extract it and run the binary file. It doesn't need to be installed and there are no dependencies that have to be met. As far as I know, it hasn't been integrated in any repositories, probably for legal reasons.

I tested the application on a number of different systems and it looks like it's running flawlessly on pretty much everything. The only problem for users would be a slow Internet connection, but that has nothing to do with the software itself.

Usage

The developers of Popcorn Time have said from the start that one of their goals was to expose just how wrong the current online distribution platforms are. They did this by making the software very easy to use, as it requires almost no input from the user.

The main interface of the application shows two major categories in the upper left corner, Movies and TV Shows. All the entries in the list have thumbnails, and all are showing a short synopsis and a trailer before playing the actual movie.

The list is ordered by default with the help of a few filters like genre, popularity, recent additions, and so on. These are all the things that have to be decided by the regular user, although there are some settings if you really want to tweak the software.

The settings can be accessed by clicking on the small gear icon in the upper right corner, and from there users can choose the default quality of the video (720p or 1080p), the language of the default subtitle and the size, access the trakt.tv account for scrobbling purposes, and set a few options for Internet connection.

Now, how does the application actually work? When a user hits the play button, Popcorn Time actually starts to download the video in a temporary folder by using the P2P network. The beauty of this software is that you don't have to download the entire file, just a few seconds from the beginning and the movie starts playing. Skipping is also supported, so you can click forward and the application will quickly catch up.

The Bad

You have to remember that this is still a Beta release. It's far from stable, although I had no technical problems with it. Some users have reported that their CPUs worked overtime when playing movies, but it seems to be affecting very few people.

The only important issue I found with the application is the sorting order, which sometimes defies logic. Moreover, you can't sort the shows and movies ascending or descending, but I’m sure that it's going to get fixed in the upcoming versions.

I also had problems updating the software from 0.3.1 to 0.3.2. It seems impossible on Linux, even when I started the app with sudo. In the end, I just downloaded the new version from the official website.

The Good

The speed of Popcorn Time is probably the most impressive feature. It's playing the movies almost instantaneously, but you will need a fast Internet connection and that particular movie must have enough seeders.

Also impressive is the fact that, most of the time, the subtitles are spot-on and that the quality of the video streaming is usually flawless.

Conclusion

Using Popcorn Time is no different from downloading a movie and it's all a matter of convenience. If you take the application as is, then Popcorn Time is simply the best at what it does, although it remains to be seen if this kind of apps actually have a future.

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


final rating 5
Editor's review
excellent
 
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