What podcatcher should I use?

Podcast listening logoI’m looking for a new podcatcher.  Which one should I try?

Background: I’m a serious podcast listener, subscribing to dozens (here’s an annotated list).  Podcasts play an important part in my life, both for research and entertainment.  I listen several times daily.

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 Most of the time I listen to files on a battered but fine old mp3 player, and occasionally play from my laptop.

I used to rely on the late, lamented Google Reader as a podcatcher.  RSS feeds were (and remain) an important part of my daily routine, so it was convenient to make a folder in Reader for podcasts and check it while working through other folders.  Once Google Reader went away I migrated to Digg Reader for RSS purposes, but its podcast support was weak.  Namely, there’s no download function, which is a problem if one wants to, say, copy files to an mp3 player.

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 So I actually turned to Bloglines, an RSS reader I teach with (very simple, clear layout), and just used it for podcasts.  That was a nearly perverse solution, but it served.  Yet recently it’s been going offline for days at a time.

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What about iTunes, the leading podcatcher?

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 I can’t stand the thing.  It runs slowly on my (Windows) machine and hogs memory.  I am opposed to the idea of commenting on feeds off the Web.  Moreover, I don’t buy music from iTunes, so using it solely as a podcatcher is overkill.

I’ve toyed with Stitcher, but it doesn’t really meet my needs.  First, I spend a lot of time with poor or zero cell phone coverage, as I live in rural New England.  Second, Stitcher seems to be streaming only, i.e., no downloads.

My specs for a good podcatcher:

  • Should run on Windows (laptop) and Android (phone).
  • Should handle a lot of feeds.
  • Must support downloads.
  • Can organize individual feeds into a sequence.

So what do you recommend, readers, technologists, and podcast mavens?  Perhaps Feedly on the desktop is an option, or Digg is going to support podcast downloading.   Maybe there’s a little-known but excellent app.  Or there’s a neat hack out there, a nifty combination of tools.  What do you advise?

(neat icon by derrickkwa)

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36 Responses to What podcatcher should I use?

  1. I use Sticher on my wi-fi only iPad, and you can tell it which podcasts to download, rather than to stream, at least in the iOS version. Poke around.

    iTunes is very clearly of the devil. I won’t use it unless absolutely forced to.

  2. Steve Kaye says:

    I haven’t used it, but check out gPodder maybe (http://gpodder.org)

  3. Juice is good, I’ve used it. On Old. Microsoft equipment and on a Mac and iPod. Neve used it on a phone.

  4. I’ve been happy with BeyondPod on my android phone. Not sure how it works on computer.

  5. I still use iTunes. I sync to an iPod, not an Android, but according to this:
    It will sync with Android as well.

  6. Hm. Has iTunes’ performance improved of late? I’ve really not liked it over the past decade.

    • iTunes has always had issues on Windows, but I’ve never found those issues to be too difficult. I’ve looked to switch away from iTunes to another Podcatcher, but have always returned.

      Plus, iTunes does things like rip CDs and edit metadata in a very convenient way.

      I’ve never found anything better. All my audio is in there.

  7. iredoval says:

    Hi, I am as well a very serios podcast listener and searching for a podcatcher for my pc -running windows 7- came across your post.
    For android the best podcatcher is doggcatcher (http://www.doggcatcher.com/) and fulfill all your specs (it runs on Android (phone), it handles a looot of feeds, it support downloads and you can organize playing lists) except it doesn´t run on windows 7, only android. I wouldn´t consider itunes. That is only for apple fans (atics) -I know in the states fast everyone- If someone can help us with advise -please NO itunes- , we would be very thankful

  8. kiskrof says:

    I have been looking and looking for something decent. All programs have issues that make them impossible to use. Files disappear from musicbee or gpodder. Clementine and Miro and itunes are shit too. I really do not know what to do. I have been wasting so many hours. For know, I am sticking to direct access to the RSS feed from Firefox, but it does not keep track of what I have listened and I cannot get back to older program and I cannot download to tranfer them on my phone. Itunes used to work many years ago. What a backward evolution. Unbelievable.

  9. Pingback: Trying a different podcatcher: Stitcher | Bryan Alexander

  10. Pingback: Podcatching frustration: on leaving Stitcher, looking for a new podcast strategy | Bryan Alexander

  11. anon says:

    I’m way late to this thread, but you might want to look at Clementine.

  12. Reader says:

    Pocket Casts is an excellent Android app. Not free, but worth it. They also have a web version available (for a fee). I saw rumors that there’d be a Windows desktop version coming, but no sign of it yet.

    No luck on the Windows app though. I’ve been looking myself and am trying out Musicbee and Miro, but neither is quite what I want.

  13. WalterNeff_46 says:

    Hi, I’m using MediaMonkey on a Windows 7 laptop, it’s almost as good as the old Zencast Organiser. You can customise it through the settings to exactly what you want, where you want to sync your files to on your mp3 player, delete after play etc etc.

    If you don’t let it look for other media when installing, you can just use it as a standalone podcatcher.

    Hope that’s of use,


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