Juice: Fresh Podcasts Delivered to Your Desktop

very good
key review info
application features
  • iPodder for the Mac and Windows platform (and soon, Linux)
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Podcasting is the next big thing, with tens of thousands of podcast feeds out there. As part of the new Internet paradigm, podcasts are one hundred percent pull media, and because of this, the easiest way to enjoy them is an aggregator such as Juice.

In case you don' know already, Podcasts are like radio talk shows that are created by all sorts of people, and placed on the Internet to be downloaded and listened to at will. This is called pull media because, unlike websites and e-mail and even traditional media, where you don't have a say in the content and time, both being pushed onto you, with podcasts and RSS feeds, you can select what information you want and have it delivered to you to to listen to when you have the time.

Media Aggregator
Juice is a media aggregator, meaning that it is a program that will allow you to select and download information from the Internet.

It uses RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to 'feed' information to your computer. RSS feeds usually contain text and images, but they can also be used to move audio files. In a nutshell, once you subscribe to a feed, you will be shown what podcasts are available and you will be able to download and listen to them in your media player of choice. The true power of RSS feeds is that they will automatically receive the podcasts, and even download it if you so choose, so that you never have to do anything except listen to it.

Using it
To get on your way and start using Juice, you first need to subscribe to a feed. There are two ways of doing this... the first is to manually enter the URL of a podcast feed that you have found somewhere on the web, the second is to go to the Podcasting Directory tab, where the program keeps a dynamically updated list of podcasting directories from which you can subscribe. You can specify the length of time podcast will be kept on the computer before deletion, as well as a username and password for those feeds that require it.

You don't have to manually check for updates on your subscribed feeds, you can let Juice do this automatically for you, either periodically after a customizable time interval, or at certain times every day. Either way, it will check for updates and display the available podcastings and fetches the new ones for you.

Once a podcast has been downloaded you can listen to it. Juice automatically creates a new iTunes playlist with the name of the podcast feed, in case it was not already created, and then adds the podcast to it complete with name and other relevant information. If you wish, it can also set the genre of the track to podcast for easy grouping.

That's it... you can now listen to the podcast, burn it on a CD or sync it for listening on the iPod while you are on the go.

Extra Options
In order to keep track of what is going on and identify any errors, you can use the log tab. Pretty much everything the program does is logged here, and errors are color coded in red to make it easy to identify them. If for some reason you are not getting your podcasts, you can check here to find out what is wrong and get at least some idea about how you could go about fixing it.

To help prevent a large collection of podcasts getting out of hand, especially if you let Juice handle everything, you have the option to stop downloading if free space on the drive falls below the designated amount. The option for automatically deleting podcasts after a customizable number of days can be set on or off for each feed, and you can also use the Cleanup tab.
The Cleanup tab lets you easily see how much total disk space the podcasts from each feed occupy, as well as the size of each individual podcast. You can then delete podcasts either from the library, or the downloaded files or both.

The Good
Makes it easy to get in on the podcasting universe without having to know anything about them. The library system makes it easy to keep track of all the podcasts from a feed, without actually downloading them, and the integration with iTunes is pretty much seamless.

The Bad
It suffers from the 'multi platform application' look. The windows might be brushed metal but the buttons are clearly from the Windows version and options are not grouped in the most intuitive manner.

The Truth
A good media aggregator that can be used to travel to the world of the podcast. Not the flashiest out there but it does everything well, is free and cross-platform, making it ideal for recent Mac switchers.

Here are some screenshots, click to enlarge:

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user interface 3
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 
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