The hot new kid on the P2P block, Qtraxmax, turns out to be a one-trick pony. This Johnny-come-lately pares away a lot of the extraneous features--such as forums or chat rooms--that you'll find in most file-sharing tools to pursue one objective: getting files quickly. And while it can download files like lightning (if those files are hosted by multiple users), Qtraxmax's lack of user-friendly amenities make using it a bore and a chore. The hot new kid on the P2P block, Qtraxmax, turns out to be a one-trick pony. This Johnny-come-lately pares away a lot of the extraneous features--such as forums or chat rooms--that you'll find in most file-sharing tools to pursue one objective: getting files quickly. And while it can download files like lightning (if those files are hosted by multiple users), Qtraxmax's lack of user-friendly amenities make using it a bore and a chore.
Do one thing and do it well
Installing Qtraxmax is simple and quick. Once you have it running, you'll see a main screen divided into three sections from top to bottom: a search-results box, a box showing your downloads, and a jumbo-sized area reserved for banner ads. We love that Qtraxmax is free of spyware--as is WinMX--but we hate forking over a good amount of screen real estate for ads.
Ads aside, you can choose to search for video files, songs, images, or all of the above. Unfortunately, Qtraxmax doesn't list your old searches, so there's no way to rerun searches or mine previous results for libraries to browse. And unless you click the Reset button in the upper-right corner before running a search, Qtraxmax groups results from different searches into the same window, which creates a jumbled mess that's a pain to sort though. Also, Qtraxmax doesn't list the bit rate at which songs were encoded--a huge omission.
Even so, this file-sharing app returned speedy results from the Gnutella network, continuing to search for your request as long as it's open (if you keep the default settings), so your results list will grow in time. Qtraxmax works by pelting the Gnutella servers with a barrage of requests--a process called hammering--which reportedly strains servers and irritates the open-source developers of the Gnutella network.
Lightning doesn't strike twice
Run a search on Qtraxmax, and you'll see that results are grouped by popularity, or the number of Gnutella users that currently host the file. Qtraxmax lets you sort your results this way since files hosted by many people download faster. We got fantastic speeds on popular files and completely hit-or-miss results with tunes held by only one person.
You'll probably need to click the Help button in the upper-right corner to understand Qtraxmax's setup options--we certainly did. Call up the Setup menu, and you'll find settings for Friendliness, Partition Count, and Check Quality. Apparently, Friendliness translates into the number of users who can download from you at one time. Partition Count is the number of chunks that a file can be broken into while downloading. (Qtraxmax saves time by breaking files into parts, then reassembling them when the transfer is complete.) Check Quality will fix tunes that have been slightly damaged by repeated transfers and would otherwise be unplayable. By the way, the Help page is the only support that you can get with Qtraxmax. There's not a phone number, an e-mail link, or even a measly user forum.
While some file-sharing tools, such as Morpheus, often overload the user with superfluous features, Qtraxmax errs on the side of sleekness. Besides the aforementioned deficiencies, you can't chat with other users or see what files are in their collections, the latter of which hampers the discovery of new songs. Nor can you play files from within the app, as Qtraxmax uses your PC's--sorry, Mac users--default player. Don't bother with it for now; instead, go with Xolox or LimeWire and hope that version 2.0 has a lot more to offer.