gPodder 0.17.0 Review

excellent
key review info
  • Application: gPodder 0.17.0
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application features
  • iPod, MP3 player and mobile phone support
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If you've ever listened to Linux-related podcasts then you must have heard at least once the name "gPodder." If you're already a user then I won't have to say that gPodder is a podcast client, podcast catcher or podcatcher, if you wish, a kind of RSS aggregator that, instead of working with headlines, text and images, handles audio or sometimes video files. Also, I won't have to say that a podcast is a series of audio or video episodes that are released periodically and "broadcast" through syndication.

Let's have a quick look at gPodder and analyze its ability to serve your podcasting needs: it's small, yet feature-filled, it's written in Python and has a GTK interface. The interface is pretty simple and clutter-free, but don't be fooled – underneath it hides a very powerful podcast management solution.

Upon first start, gPodder greets you with a welcome screen that offers the option to choose some podcasts from a list of examples or import your subscriptions from gPodder's on-line service, which we'll discuss a bit later. Assuming that you've got some podcasts added, either through the two aforementioned options or via the feed addresses manually, you should now see their titles and icons in the left-hand column and the episode list for the selected show on the right. Now you can choose to download the episodes you want. Wait a minute, where do the downloads go? Easy, check out the gpodder-downloads folder in your home directory.

This is one of gPodder's powerful features, meaning that it sorts through your podcasts and organizes them neatly, each with its own folder and playlist. If you have too many of them and you're afraid that they will eat up all your Internet connection bandwidth, there's an option to limit the number of downloads or the speed at which they are brought in. Also, if you don't want to have old episodes that you've already gone over laying around and occupying valuable disk space, you just have to tick an option in the configuration window and gPodder will take care of that too, removing them a while after you're done listening.

Talking about listening, you get more time to do that while gPodder automatically gets the feeds and downloads the new episodes, if you wish. It will even get files over BitTorrent, if your podcast of choice uses that distribution channel. Also, you can pick your preferred audio or video player for each podcast type. And if the podcaster promised some goodies in the show notes, links, pictures or attached files, you just have to right-click the corresponding episode in gPodder, select "Episode Notes" and you'll get all the info in a new window, with no extra effort or the need to wait for a web browser to load.

Now, let's see some of those powerful features that gPodder has. Podcasts may be nice, but sitting through a whole show in front of the computer may not be exactly your idea of an entertaining afternoon. Well, there's an effortless cure for that itch too: you plug in your portable media player, let gPodder know what kind of device you have and where the internal memory is located, click the "Transfer" button and watch the episodes copy neatly to your player. If you use your mobile phone as a media player and don't want to mess around with wires, right-clicking an episode and selecting "Send via bluetooth," then picking your device from the list is all that it takes to have the podcast in your pocket.

gPodder can even do some pretty extreme automation for the lazy and more tech-inclined users. If you have an iPod (even the Touch, if you've jailbroken it), you get the option to automatically mark as listened or to delete the files that you've listened to from your player when you synchronize it with gPodder. Rockbox users can have that same functionality, but for them that means clicking the "Advanced" button in the "Preferences" window and setting the "update_tags" and "mp3_player_use_scrobbler_log" options to "True" by double-clicking on them – this will only mark them as listened to. To also delete them you need to set an extra option to "True," "mp3_player_delete_played", and that's it.

Be weary though, iPod, MTP device and Bluetooth file transfers might require additional dependencies, so check the "Additional Components" window to see what you're missing in order to enable them.

Let's see how gPodder can manage your subscription list. Since most of the programs that handle web syndication can work with OPML files (that stands for Outline Processor Markup Language; they are basically xml descriptions of your subscriptions), gPodder can seamlessly import and export such files, so you'll never have to manually enter your subscriptions after reinstalling the operating system or switching computers. As I've hinted earlier in this review, there is also a lazy man's way to do that. It's called My gPodder and it is basically a web service that, together with the corresponding gPodder functionality, can back up your subscription list to the cloud, update it or download it to another computer; you just have to create an account and supply your login credentials. You can also send them through e-mail, although that won't work with web-based providers. It didn't work for us either, although Thunderbird was working alright; all it did was open a new e-mail window and set the subject.

The Good

gPodder is quick, unobtrusive and simple to use. Although it has plenty of functions, it is in no way bloated and maintains its speed no-matter what.

The Bad

On the negative side, what gPodder's new users would find appealing is an integrated podcast directory that would be able to list content titles from different genres and do custom searches. Connected to a web appliance that would crowdsource podcast details, a solution like that might even surpass iTunes' podcast directory in functionality.

The Truth

If you're a subscriber to more than two podcasts, then gPodder is a must have. It handles all the file management and lets you concentrate on enjoying the content.

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


final rating 5
Editor's review
excellent
 
NEXT REVIEW: Songbird

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