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There has been much confusion in the past as to what exactly a podcast is. To ease some of the confusion, it is basically an online show which can be in the form of audio or video that is downloaded on demand. Most notably, podcasts utilize RSS which stands for Really Simple Syndication. RSS might even be how you subscribe to Make Use Of and podcasts work the same way. However instead of text posts you would be downloading audio or video.

An example of an audio podcast is Make Use Of’s own podcast. The real confusion sets in with the term ‘podcasting’. Despite the word “pod,” you do not need an iPod or any type of special device although you could use any device that supports mp3 files. So the big question lies in what is the best way to subscribe to your podcasts. The program you would use to subscribe is called a ‘feedreader’, ‘aggregator’, or ‘podcatcher’ and these are among my favorite recommendations for this.

Miro

Miro – This is my favorite client. Miro by default runs in your system tray to periodically download your subscribed podcasts as new episodes are available. When you open the program, it displays the Miro Guide which is a great directory of podcasts by categories. When you subscribe to podcasts, they list in the left sidebar and display the appropriate album art next to its name creating a clean organized list that is also capable of utilizing folders for more elaborate organization.

Miro is free, open source, cross platform, and perhaps its most unique feature is BitTorrent support which allows Peer-2-Peer podcast downloads rather than the traditional Server-Client downloads.

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iTunes – This option is the most common option and mainly where podcast downloading originally began. The podcast subscription feature is a feature of the iTunes Music Store which makes it a little more difficult to figure out and not quite as straightforward. However just about every podcast is listed in its podcast directory.

iTunes, unlike Miro, does not minimize to the system tray forcing you to have the iTunes application open if you want to download episodes of podcasts. If you do have an iPod and that is how you listen to podcasts then you will want to use iTunes as podcasts download automatically to your iPod when you sync it with iTunes as you normally would.

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Juice – This option is another open source solution. It is cross platform and has a very simple look. The interface is not as elegant as the others but offers a very straightforward method to download the podcasts you want. Unlike iTunes, Juice is an application intended specifically for podcasts and functions much like an RSS text feed reader.

What do you use for podcast subscriptions? Please let us know in the comments.

  1. will
    December 6, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Ran the google search: how to get juice working in vista catcher

    Several of the top hits advised that you delete the my received podcasts folder (the problem has to due with the name change from my documents in xp to documents in vista) saved during installation (or if not found when the program is run). Also, right click on the juice.exe and select properties. On the compatibility tab select the win xp service pack two compatibility mode. When the program starts, go to the program preferences and choose an existing folder (must be done in advance). That was all it took.

    Usually my brain hemorages whenever I attempt anything on vista. This hardly gave me a migraine.

  2. Astro Daddy
    October 28, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Juice - error when I run in Vista.
    iTunes - Apple is convinced that the way humans think is wrong, and they're going to change that for you by not syncing to other mp3 players.
    The previous comments show that nobody is going out of their way to create a good podcatcher for Vista PCs.

  3. Dr House
    October 20, 2009 at 6:42 am

    I was thinking and looking for a list of podcast directories. Thanks for the list and save me plenty of time.

  4. Magnifico
    August 31, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Strike two. myPodder BLOWS. You have to create an account. You have to use their clunky website to subscribe to podcasts in their clunky software. Waste of time.

  5. Magnifico
    August 31, 2009 at 11:49 am

    I have tried Miro so far and it is a buggy, crashing, internal error having unresponsive POS. I did not expect it from the #1 recommendation so maybe it is just my experience. On to the next, I guess.

  6. Magnifico
    August 30, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Ah! I knew there'd be an article here! I got fed up with iTunes this morning and uninstalled it. I want things where I want them and how I want them! I was only using it out of apathy anyway as my iPod went south a long time ago and I tried Juice and gave up on something new when I couldn't get it to work. Thanks all, I'll be trying a few of these.

  7. Henry
    June 29, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Man... we desperately need one for Vista MCE!

  8. House
    June 21, 2009 at 3:17 am

    nice list of softwares for podcast..

  9. Duane
    June 30, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Do Miro or Juice offer an equivalent to iTunes "smart playlists"? That's the #1 reason I use iTunes. I have a very specific set of rules for how I like to listen to my podcasts (for instance some playlists just for work, some just for walking, etc....), organized by date / times played / length and so on. I need to have a steady stream of podcasts, in logical order, just keep playing without me having to constantly change folders.

  10. Alvin Finn
    June 27, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    I use bashpodder, a shell script. Why have a bloated program and gui when you're just grabbing a file from a url?

  11. catester
    June 27, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    I also use the free version of Ziepod. I like it because it's easy to get the downloaded podcasts from there to my mp3 player, and because it isn't iTunes. ;-) I also had been using Juice, and became frustrated with it.

    There hasn't been a new release or an upgrade to Ziepod in some time now. I am using it with Win XP; don't know if it will work with Vista or not. I hope so.

    • Chris
      June 29, 2008 at 2:43 pm

      I've been using Ziepod on a couple of Vista Home Premium machines, including a dedicated Media Center PC for some time now; I've experienced no serious problems apart from an infrequent crash but Ziepod has always been a little buggy. You could try installing Ziepod in compatibility mode if you are cautious.

  12. Paul
    June 27, 2008 at 10:32 am

    "iTunes, unlike Miro, does not minimize to the system tray "

    I don't know what you did, but my iTunes is minimized in the system tray all the time. You just select "Minimize to system tray" option under preferences.

    • Nick Volpe
      June 27, 2008 at 11:43 am

      I was unaware of this as it seems iTunes does not do this by default. Thanks for pointing that out.

  13. Bob Morton
    June 27, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Just a note. I have never gotten Juice to work under Vista even when I have tried several tricks that people have suggested. From what I can see, no one has worked on it lately so I suspect that it never will.

    • Martin
      June 27, 2008 at 10:31 am

      It's possible to get Juice to work under Vista but it's a pain in the behind, so much so that I wouldn't recommend anyone bother. I agree with you Bob, it hasn't had work on it for a very long time and even after contacting the lead team on Juice offering my assistance they're still not moving forward on it. Pity though, it was the best podcatcher I had ever used.

      @ Nick Volpe

      This article had potential but I'd like to see one that lists perhaps 10 podcatchers so that people can hunt around further for other options that suit their needs. iTunes is bloatware and not a reasonable option for many of us geeks and Juice is all but dead, especially for Vista users. How about another article giving some others to look at ... please?? Oh, by the way, thanks for listing Miro, I'll be checking it out.

    • Simon Mills
      June 30, 2008 at 8:21 pm

      I use Juice on Vista

  14. blaquesaber
    June 27, 2008 at 9:32 am

    No ZUNE love here. Too bad to because the Zune podware is really great with lots-o features.

  15. OZ
    June 27, 2008 at 11:54 am

    I use ZiePod (the free Podcast Receiver version) after Juice kept frustrating me. ZiePod has been working great for me, but that doesn't mean I won't be trying Miro. Just wanted to mention ZiePod in case others were interested in a pretty good podcast catcher (also does video podcasts and RSS feeds, but I use it exclusively for audio podcasts).

  16. Zia
    June 27, 2008 at 10:24 am

    I use myPodder which is also fantastic. It is great for video podcasts too.

    • Nick Volpe
      June 27, 2008 at 11:32 am

      Your right! myPodder is excellent. It has been quite a long time since I've used it and then there were some slight issues with it but I would guess they have been worked out. If so, I would definitely recommend it also.

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