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Democracy 0.9.5: This player gets our vote

The latest version of the Democracy Player offers a way to watch free video content from across the whole Internet in a slick new interface. You'll never be bored at work again...

The world loves online video. Not a minute can go by without someone sending us a hilarious clip on YouTube. Yesterday we were introduced to a dog licking a baby and a man doing a silly little dance in different countries around the world. The Democracy player is intended to bring the, er, fascinating world of Internet video together, in one simple-to-use application.

The latest version of the player, Democracy for Windows, is especially fun -- its creators describe it as a "major update, with loads of new features and an interface overhaul". When you open the program you're presented with a list of feeds, to introduce you to how the player works. Democracy feels a little like iTunes and a little like an RSS reader, with your subscribed feeds listed down the left hand side. The team behind it are quite clear: this is no iTunes replacement. It doesn't claim to do much with audio podcasts. It simply allows you to access as much free video as possible.

Video quality varies, as you would expect. BBC news video was pretty low quality, but YouTube video was surprisingly good and there are even feeds available that enable you watch high-definition video, as long as your computer is capable. The only problem with video from the likes of YouTube is that Democracy doesn't stream it as it's downloading, so you have to get the whole clip before you can play it. Not a big deal really, and once you have it Democracy will keep it for you for five days or, if you choose, indefinitely.

One of the features that is bound to make this software popular is its close integration with BitTorrent. This means you can subscribe to torrent feeds, enabling you to download video automatically via RSS feeds. Crave can see the potential for this to be used illegally, as many torrent sites have RSS feeds that enable you to subscribe to feeds of your favourite content. This means that you can set Democracy to automatically download your favourite TV shows or even movies as they appear online. Obviously, this might land you in hot water with the rights owners and we'd never condone it. Ahem.

We were very surprised by the whole package: it took us about five seconds to work out how the application works and to find video and start watching. Obviously it takes a while to download video once you've found it. This will vary greatly depending on what sort of Internet access you have. We'd recommend you look at this slick little application, which you can download from getdemocracy.com. Now if you'll excuse us, that's enough work for one day -- we've got video to watch. -IM