Almost any web user sometimes needs to download an online video: to watch it offline, show to kids on a TV set, or just back it up from deletion. If you google “video downloader”, you’ll surely get thousands of search results. And the truth is that the first 30-50 results most likely bring you to a tool that sooner or later will do the video download job. Isn’t it the most important? On the one hand, yes, because the video is downloaded and the problem is solved. On the other hand, there’s a great deal of other factors which surely matter and which distinguish a really good video downloader.
I singled out five such factors: easy-to-use interface, download speed, different output options, number of supported sites, and absence of annoying ads. Top five video downloaders were compared on the basis of these criteria: YouTube Downloader, Freemake Video Downloader, KeepVid, aTube Catcher, and Orbit Downloader. All tools but KeepVid are desktop applications (KeepVid Windows app costs $29), either completely free or free with limited functionality (YouTube Downloader). Let’s go further to the comparison.
It’s hard to judge, still I think that images will say more than words. Lets’ have a look at the 5 interfaces.
For me the main pleasure is to see the minimalist approach to the interface development, since I have neither time nor desire to puzzle out pseudo-important buttons, menus, links, or icons. Here Freemake, YouTube Downloader, and KeepVid interfaces seem to be the most clean, logic, and self-explanatory. As for visual appeal (I hope you’ll agree with me ), Freemake Video Downloader has no matches in the above list.
All five tools are ad-supported. It’s easy to understand why: software developers need funds to maintain and update any, even the most unsophisticated software. But all ads differ. I estimated the way advertising is laid within the app. Thus, YouTube Downloader, Freemake Video Downloader, and aTube Catcher offer to install toolbars while installation. You may easily opt out. KeepVid, being a web app, installs nothing to your PC (it only requires Java applet to function), but shows ads while downloading. The worst experience I got while installing Orbit Downloader. It insisted on changing my home page, installing optionally DriverScanner, plus after installation it showed FanHow popup telling that I had dozens of unupdated software.
Supported video sites
YouTube is the most popular video download destination, covering 99% of web video demands. However,¬†it’s always a pleasure to know that software developers care about other sites and do it all the time. But very often sites claimed as “supported” in reality are not, e.g. BBC for YouTube Downloader or CNN for aTube Catcher.
|Software||Supported video sites||Total number of supported sites|
|YouTube Downloader||YouTube, Facebook, Break, Dailymotion, etc.||60+|
|KeepVid||YouTube, DailyMotion, Google Video, Metacafe, Vimeo||5|
|Freemake Video Downloader||YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Vevo, adult sites, local video sites, etc.||10,000+|
|Orbit Downloader||YouTube, Myspace, Rapidshare, Veoh, Metacafe, etc.||10+|
|aTube Catcher||YouTube,¬†MyPlay, BBC, CNN, ATOM, VH1, others||1,000+|
In order not to sound proofless, I chose three different videos and measured the time needed to download them. You may easily check it yourself on these videos:
|Software||How to Burn DVD Video¬†(YouTube, 1:18, FLV 480p, 10MB)||One Day on Earth Trailer¬†(Vimeo, 2:36, FLV 720p HD, 49 MB)||2011/12 Fashion Week Review¬†(YouTube, 30:00, FLV 480p, 224 MB)|
|Freemake Video Downloader||0:12||0:22||2:11|
|aTube Catcher¬†(time without conversion)||0:07||0:26||4:03|
As the results show, all tools are fast to download short videos (1-3 minutes). Still you you want to rip long movies, online shows, or full episodes, you’d better choose Freemake Video Downloader, as it proves to be the speediest video downloader. Next comes aTube Catcher, but as it always requires video conversion, the resulted time will depend on the output file format and can be 2-3 times more than just video download time.
In our tests we downloaded YouTube videos “as-is” without any conversion to other formats. However, sometimes it’s necessary to get an online videos in a specific format or resolution, e.g. to make it playable on a mobile phone, DVD player or music gadget. Sometimes, it’s enough to rip MP4 video, sometimes we can’t do without re-encoding. Let’s explore what output options are offered by our downloaders.
|Software||Download options||Conversion options and devices|
|YouTube Downloader||FLV, MP4||Only for PRO account|
|KeepVid||FLV, MP4, 3GP, WebM||Not available|
|Freemake Video Downloader||FLV, MP4, WebM||AVI, MKV, 3GP, MP3, iPhone, iPad, iPod, PSP, Android|
|Orbit Downloader||FLV, MP4, 3GP, WebM,¬†RTMP||Not available|
|aTube Catcher||No “Only download” option||WMV, MKV, MOV, MP4, SWF, RM, MPG, WebM, OGG, MP3, WMA, MP2, iPod, iPad, Xbox, Zune, Nintendo, PSP, Nokia|
As you can see most video downloaders here are one-sided: they either download or convert video. The only exception is Freemake Video Downloader: it does both video download and conversion.
I hope that I managed to throw light on the top video downloaders, their pros and cons. To sum it up, I think that each program has its strong side: KeepVid lets download videos without installing anything to a PC, aTubeCatcher offers dozens of output video options, Orbit is good for downloading RTMP clips. Still I recommend using Freemake Video Downloader which has a set of necessary download options, intuitive interface, and rips video faster than all other tools.
Disclosure: Though I work at Freemake, I tried to be maximally objective and not to mess up my personal preferences with comparison results. Sorry, if I couldn’t.