I have been on a search for the perfect podcatcher for some time now. I watch video podcasts as an alternative to traditional television programming since I have a Mac mini connected to my television. I choose the larger versions of video files because they look better on a television.
I first tried out Juice (formerly iPodder). You can sync it with a remote service such as PodNova.com. This is a handy feature if you migrate from machine to machine. Juice does not have a built-in player. You tell it which shows you want to download by inputting RSS feeds or going through their directory and Juice downloads your shows. Juice gives you the option of using iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp, or No Player. The Windows Media Player and Winamp options were grayed out when I tried out Juice. VLC is not a player option , which is unfortunate considering VLC can play nearly any file. Juice is free, but welcomes donations.
Next, I tried Democracy. I really liked the Democracy Player. It has a slick interface, a built-in player that even plays flash movies, and a very clean full screen mode. As far as I know, you can not take a look at a list of other videos while you are watching a video. Democracy Player also does not fully support audio podcasts (Democracy will download the file, but asks you to use an external player), which seems like an artificial limitation. I understand that the player is meant for watching videos; however, Democracy forces you to find another application for your audio podcasts. Recently, I have experienced playback problems with Democracy such as stuttering and the application using over 100% of the CPU. I have not experienced as many problems with the program since 0.9.5.3 (r4366). Democracy is also free, but accepts donations.
Then came iTunes with built in podcasting support. The iTunes player is very limited when it comes to formats and subscribing to shows through the iTunes Store usually leads you to iPod friendly versions of shows. This leads to low-resolution downloads, which look fuzzy on a large television. Now with Firefox 2.0, you can subscribe to almost any RSS feed easily with iTunes. As everyone knows, iTunes can download both audio and video podcasts. I would probably use iTunes more as a video player if it supported more video formats.
Lastly, I ended up with Fireant. Fireant for Mac looks like an old Quicktime Player merged with a Finder window with a playlist drawer. It’s not the prettiest application (although screenshots of the next version look promising). Fireant’s fullscreen mode is not as nice as Democracy or iTunes since a slider remains on the bottom of the screen at all times. However, it is the podcatcher I currently use. Fireant can download both audio and video podcasts. Additionally, Fireant can play flash videos as well. Why am I still using Fireant over all the other applications? Fireant does not seem to drain system resources as much as the other programs. In my experience, Fireant has been very stable, unlike Democracy Player. Also, Fireant can play almost any file it is a free program.