The swiss-army knife of BitTorrent clients
Vuze, the old Azureus platform with a new name and feature list, brings a substantial set of tools to properly equip any level of BitTorrent enthusiast.
It does the basic job like any BitTorrent client should: give it a torrent link, hit the download button, and watch the bars fill up from international seeds like a United Nations conference.
The library is easy to navigate and the UI gives you all sorts of information on your download progress and individual files. Standard stuff. Then how does it differentiate from there? It offers a couple different ways to discover new content, executed at varying levels of success. “Swarm Discoveries”, a fancy term for cloud-based content suggestions, is a recommendation engine that populates once you download something.
At the top end, power users are treated to a host of plugin options that let you modify Vuze more than Paul Walker’s Toyota Supra.Let’s start in the beginning. The setup application is slick. A few seconds in, however, the pleasantness fades quick as bloatware agreements reared their ugly heads. It’s understandable for a robust client to remain free by deals with other software companies but it’s still a nuisance. AVG AntiVirus was the culprit. Declining this, the application installs fast and an iTunes looking Vuze client opens up in front of you. Wait a second – what’s that on the top of the screen? How are Chrome shortcuts imported into Vuze? Oh, it’s a Web Discover toolbar bloatware that was missed during setup. Disable.
Getting Started was the aptly named first Vuze service feature that popped up. It provided a choice of three options of free stuff to download. A Philip K Dick book bundle was the choice. 7 seconds later, it populated the My Torrents section. In the "Library" you can view each torrent (think of each one as a folder of files) as one row. You can expand this row to show all files as part of the torrent. So in the case of the book bundle it can easily be shown as individual books.
Now to find a torrent. Content Discovery looked like a good place to start. There’s Search, Vuze StudioHD Network, Games, Swarm Discoveries, and Subscriptions. Search brings you to a Yahoo powered search engine where a completed search for a favorite’s band best album, brought a list of hits but clicking on those links did absolutely nothing. Strike one. Well lets try Games then. On the Games view immediately the screen went gray with an error message. “Sorry, there was a problem loading this page. Please check if your internet connection is working and click retry to continue.” All fixes failed. Strike two.
How about Vuze StudioHD Network? Hit! What a neat feature. Here, Vuze wants users to download their pre-selected library of videos and podcasts whose categories ranged from Comedy to Games and Tech to Nature and Science. The downloads were easy to initiate and you can spend a lot of time going through the content and filling your hard drive with the click of a button. Swarm Discoveries, Vuze’s recommendation engine based on previously downloaded content, also seems cool but is a tough nut to crack for a new user. With greater use comes greater intelligence. Its value takes time and downloads to blossom. There’s also an RSS subscription ability if you’re into that.
From the perspective of a power user it’s the Plugins feature that stands out. These include Location Provider (display location details about a peer), Speed Scheduler (schedule your upload and download speeds based on time and day of week), Torrent Guard (helps to identify fake torrents), 3D view (see your peers in a 3D view), and much more. There is slew of privacy plugins as you might expect, such as Tor support and I2P Helper, so third party ads and trackers wont find you. You can opt for Vuze Plus for a reasonable fee. It adds an ad-free experience, the ability to stream your content as you download it – which sounds pretty good for movies you want to watch immediately, receive built-in antivirus protection, and have the ability to burn videos to playable DVDs. These sound nice but likely wont appeal to the average user.
Where can you run this program?
Vuze has support for Windows, Mac, and Linux as well as a nifty Android app that lets you get most of its basic functions on-the-go.
Is there a better alternative?
Competitors that you should check out include uTorrent, qBittorrent, Deluge, and BitTorrent. As mentioned throughout the review, Vuze really offers a lot to the power users.
For simpler setups, uTorrent is considerably light and has a good search feature. Deluge and qBittorrent score points for being ad-free and easy to use. BitTorrent is, well, BitTorrent’s own client and doesn’t offer a ton of features like the rest do.
Vuze is a compelling place to start your torrenting hobby and has a high ceiling for users of any sophistication. The Content Discovery feature of its Vuze StudioHD Network is super cool and gives you a rabbit hole of on-demand content readily available. The only drawbacks experienced were faulty Search and Games features and it’s a bit of a system hog.
Should you download it?
Yes. If you’re brand new to this torrenting thing, you certainly need one of the handful of clients. While there are simpler options, Vuze remains a good choice given its flexibility, content hub, and sky’s-the-limit plug-ins. There’s nothing you can’t do with Vuze compared to its peers. That’s a nice problem to have.
- Tons of features
- Content discovery options
- Does the basics perfectly
- Some features of dubious value and functionality