Date: July 31, 2007
Author(s): Don Williams
XTorrent is a BitTorrent OS X application that is being hailed by many as the most capable program of itâ€™s kind and one that blows past everything that came before it, regardless of platform, price or functionality. But is it really that good? We at Techgage took a look at the latest version to let you know.
Today Techgage reviews Xtorrent, the highly anticipated BitTorrent program for Mac OS X. It is written by David Watanabe, the author of several high quality OS X programs such as the critically acclaimed Acquisition, NetWire RSS and Inquisitor for Safari.
According to the Xtorrent site you can:
Search Everywhere, Easily
Xtorrent is all about search. Type keywords in and the results show up right in Xtorrent. One click later and you’re downloading your content. It’s ridiculously easy… and it’s only in Xtorrent.
Get Exactly What You Want
You can browse the files and folders of a torrent before downloading and see its real-time swarm status. Easily narrow your search results using the straightforward media type and keyword filters.
Subscribe to Content, Easily
Xtorrent consolidates the work of many apps into one. Ditch your RSS reader and your web browser… Xtorrent lets you subscribe to RSS torrentcasts directly. Just like the search interface, you’re only one click away from downloading the latest content.
Hardcore Technology; Mac Simplicity.
Xtorrent has the svelte body of a supermodel and the brute strength of an iron man. In true Mac form, it successfully marries a high-performance and advanced download core with a truly easy to use interface. Mac users deserve nothing less.
Xtorrent does a lot more… iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV support. Time and user-activity sensitive bandwidth limits. Custom download folders. Search suggestions. Watch-folder auto-download. Automatic port configuration (UPNP & Airport NAT-PMP). Seeding ratio controls. Innovative fragment status view. Growl support. The list goes on…
As many already know, torrent apps, despite their popularity, have pretty much remained a little too hard for the average person to use, because it forces them to wade through torrent trackers, find their file, make sure it has enough seeders, and then lastly open the torrent downloaded file in their torrent application to enable the download. Hardly fun or exciting sounding is it?
However, XTorrent was designed to fix a lot of these problems, once and for all, which is why so many love this program despite it being such an early release. In fact, many people will swear that Xtorrent is absolutely the best, by far, of any such software on the market today regardless of platform, be it Windows, Mac or Linux. But is it true, does it deserve such accolades? Well, lets check Xtorrent out for ourselves and find out.
To start, I will begin with what I really like about XTorrent.
Also, what I really like, no… really love about Xtorrent is the stunning ‘iTune’ like interface, which is also heavily used in its sister app Acquisition, a P2P that I have enjoyed for many years. A Windows friend of mine, several years ago, tried this program out on my Mac and fell in love with it immediately. After trying in vain to download it for Windows, I had to break it to him that it was a Mac specific program, a fact that disappointed him greatly. Since this is a great program, I was eager to see how XTorrent compared with it, and, for the most, I think it compares very nicely.
Other things that I loved about XTorrent, like SvenOnTech, whom are just some of those folks that just happens to think that Xtorrent is easily the best of its kind, bar none, was that they, like myself, loved the fact that by simply “Clicking on one of the downloads it would give you detailed information such as the tracker URI, amount of seeds and leaches, as well as a graphical display of a box complete with multi-colors that indicated either the downloaded, uploaded, or remaining bits.”
Plus again, like myself, they loved that you could limit the bandwidth speed for an individual torrent and that you could either click on the download or upload meter and make changes via the drop down. Also nice was that you could also predetermine where each type of downloaded file goes, via the preferences. For example: AVI, QT, and MPG files automatically downloading to your Movies folder and, or, that your MP3 downloads would automatically go into your Music folder, and that images would go to the Pictures folder, or which ever folder you choose, etc. All very conveniently and nicely done, I might add.
SvenOnTech also reported that, “Download speeds seem to be as fast, if not faster, than other clients we’ve used on both PC and Macs.” They also stated that “…. we performed a download of Lost Episode 17 from this season in about 2 hours while CHiPs and a Lost spoiler were also downloading. Not bad for 700 MB XvID file.”
I also agree that I really love Xtorrent’s built-in search feature. It’s excellent and, as SvenOnTech states, “the best we’ve seen thus far.” I too love the way Xtorrent rates your downloads with stars, with the higher the star indicating the higher or better download rates that you will get.
Xtorrent uses Yahoo and Google search as its default searching sources, but you can easily add others such as Pirate Bay to your list of searched sites for your torrents.
Of course, Xtorrent also features: RSS, Growl, Apple TV, iPod and iTunes support straight out of the box. SvenOnTech also states that, “You’re free to check it (XTorrent) out but if you’re like me, you’ll be hitting PayPal within your first search completion.”
Well, as great as they and many others might think that XTorrent is, before you actually pay for the program, please note that, like most things, XTorrents has its drawbacks too.
One of the biggest being, of course, is that Xtorrent is not free, but rather shareware, and, at up to $42, a very expensive one at that. Competing BitTorrent software for OS X, such as Azureus, are not only free, but some also say even faster, something that I admit I didn’t compare because of time constraints.
Still another downside to XTorrent is that if you do not register the program it will, within about an hour of use, throttle itself, thus limiting your bandwidth download speed to a measly 10k and it adds even more frustration by then constantly pestering you with repeated ‘Nag’ notices to pay up!
Another drawback of Xtorrent is that its core is made up from the libtransmission library, which is known to hammer trackers, which bans XTorrent from an ever increasing number of them, making it rather useless, for example, if your a member of Oink.
David Watanabe is an excellent programmer and I highly recommend that you download XTorrent and try it out, if you’re into such things. Despite the rough edges XTorrent, over all, like his other programs, are wonderful to use and of very high and professional quality. However, if you only use BitTorrent occasionally, I can’t see any justification for its purchase, especially considering its high price and all of the other great OS X Torrents alternatives out there, and free ones at that.
XTorrent’s beautiful interface, ease of searching, downloading, adding RSS torrentcasts and subscriptions, etc. are all very compelling indeed, but the price and the few other cons really trouble me.
One of these other cons is the support, or should I say lack of support, that I have received personally in the past from its developer. With Acquisition, I learned, after losing my product key, was that Mr. Watanabe’s mastery of programming does not match his after purchased support. After sending what seems like millions of email requests for assistance, not one was ever answered! I was left on my own. Not a pleasant experience to say the least. Fortunately for me, I did, by chance, find my password. Otherwise, my hard-earned $15 purchase would have been wasted!
I won’t tell you not to buy the program because, over-all, its a beauty, but I will tell you, that if you do purchase XTorrent, please back up your product key because if you lose it, well, don’t expect any type of support in getting it back! Yes, they have an automatic email verification system set-up, but if you move to a new ISP, as did I, well, you’re on your own. Sadly, I’m not the only person I heard who experience this same frustrating lack of support.
Recently, I read that it was estimated that BitTorrent downloads now comprise some 30% of the Internet’s entire bandwidth. So, in conclusion, if you want to join in, then XTorrent is a great program to do it with and one that can only get better with time. If the constantly updated and improved Acquisition is any indication, then XTorrent can be expected to improve as well. Could it be that the lack of support by Mr. Watanabe is because he is too busy constantly upgrading and making his products even better to get back to people? I don’t know, but it is one of the biggest cons to me in recommending the product.
So, after all, is XTorrent really the best of the best of its kind? Well, indeed, despite its drawbacks, it very well could be? For sure, I know of no other program quite like it. However, knowing Mr. Watanabe’s programming skills, if it isn’t the best now, I’d be willing to bet that it will be soon. Mr. Watanabe is a great developer and I give him oodles of credit for it.
So, by all means, try this amazing program out for yourself, because I am sure that you will like it, but considering it’s high cost and that it is still an early version, plus the lack of support, the question is will you like it enough to pay for it? Only you can answer that question. As for me, I can live with out it, but I’m really not sure that I want to. It’s just so damn cool! What more can I say?
XTorrent is $24 for a single license, with a Household option that you can add for an additional $ 9. An extra $9 will also get you a Lifetime Upgrade Option, or $42 for the total package and according to a lot of people, very well worth it.
XTorrent can be downloaded from either Mac Update, Version Tracker or the official site.
Don Williams has been an Apple enthusiast since the earliest days and is a contributing editor for Techgage.com and you can find his blog here.
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