UPDATE NOTES, 2009-02-02: I own an iPod now, and am now shackled to iTunes like the rest of you (or your Zune equivalent, for the other rest of you). Anyway, point being: I now realize this podcast client roundup no longer matters, because everyone is a slave to their mp3 player. I still think listening to podcasts on your car mp3 player on a long commute is a great idea, it's just that my commute is now 10 minutes as opposed to ~80 each way.
This will be painless and quick.
First, I'll point out that I'm a huge podcast consumer. I've listened to at least 500 hours of audio via podcasts in my daily commute, and have been doing so regularly since ~2005. I've installed every major podcast client, even Carl's Pwopcatcher, to see what works for me.
I'm looking for a podcast client that will help me a) get a list of all current and past episodes of all my shows, b) download them, c) automatically and without fuss, d) so that I can play them in my car.
That's pretty much it. In the table below I'll add a feature checkmark for products that do exceptionally well at certain features. I'll also call out unique bad features in the table as well.
Podcast Client Roundup
|Automatically downloads new shows||YES||YES||YES|
|Permits you to download past shows||YES||YES||-YES-||YES|
|Consistently and successfully completes downloads||YES||YES||YES|
|Allows you to schedule downloads for later (e.g. 2AM)||YES|
|Bittorrent integration (for DNR)||YES||YES|
|iTunes podcast directory||YES|
|'I already have iTunes installed' bonus||YES|
|'I hate the crapware iTunes installs extra' bonus||YES|
|'Juice kills podcasters' bandwidth by redownloading'||YES|
|'Juice crashes more than it closes gracefully'||YES|
Juice is the best client for most of us who:
- aren't satisfied with the little sandbox iTunes gives you, UPDATE: and don't own an iPod or Zune, which necessarily tie you to their corresponding podcast client
- can't be bothered to manually check each item for download (as FeedStation would have you do). I have 24 feeds, and I just synced, and it turned out to be ~180 new shows. Had I been using FeedStation, that would have been 180 manual "hey I like this episode, let's download it" clicks.
- cannot abide by Doppler's frequent failed downloads. Doppler, you guys are the best, MINUS this one big bad bug! Fix it and I'll switch!
Unfortunately, as is also stated above, Juice is the worst client for any podcast producer. I know for a fact I've downloaded the entire ARCast catalog 4 times (and it's huge). This is probably due to the way Juice stores and compares new podcasts with its podcast download history--the history is so finicky that whenever someone republishes an item in their RSS feed, whether it's to change the date published or even something a human wouldn't notice, chances are good that we (those running Juice clients) will re-download all republished items. Individually, this ends up costing Ron Jacobs (or whoever foots the bill anyway) $0.10 for another 1GB of extra bandwidth every time Juice "starts over" on his feed. Well, who cares, you say, it's only ten cents. Sure, it's ten cents for you, me, and the other 100,000 podcast listeners using Juice. That's a lot of dimes, and there's no end in sight.
So while Juice is the best podcast client available today, you'll never see any podcaster recommend it. They can't afford a 2x-10x jump in their bandwidth bill.
But, just as a secret between you and me (you being the 3 people reading this): use Juice. Or, if you can stomach the limited featurest of iTunes, do that. UPDATE: I've found my way around iTunes. It does let you download old shows, and plus, I own an iPod now, so I'm stuck with it, unless I want to do something crazy like use Songbird. I'm not crazy, so I don't use Songbird.