Friday, July 20, 2012

Excellent free multi-format media player

KMPlayer is a lightweight audio and video player for Windows that supports a wide range of different file formats, including AVI, ASF, WMV, AVS, FLV, MKV, and many more.

Choosing a multimedia player used to be a real no-brainer. However, during recent times the raft of new features and updates added to classic media players like Winamp,Windows Media Player, and even iTunes have left the apps increasingly bloated. For those looking for a fresh alternative to these ballooning apps, KMPlayercould be your ticket.

Like similar app UMPlayer, KMPlayer has a small desktop footprint and its minimalist interface makes video playback quick and hassle-free. The player's interface is fully skinable, and there are some nice aesthetic touches, such as the changing of colour on the player with every new track.

There are all sorts of options to help you pimp and customize KMPlayer, such as visualizations, plug-ins and playback options. But the beauty of KMPlayer is that these are turned on at your request rather than being forced upon you at the outset.

Free audio and video converter for mobile devices

Format Factory is a free, fully-featured, converter that enables you to convert audio, video, and even images, between the most popular formats.

Format Factory's supported formats include WMV, AVI, MPG, MP3, WMA, AAC, JPG, PNG, GIF, and many more. Better still, Format Factory supports media formats used by most major portable devices, including PSP and iPhone.

The app is very easy to use, although it does have a slightly unintuitive interface. Format Factory's file browser doesn't appear until you select the target format, which is a bit weird, but as long as you know this it's no problem. You can select individual files to convert, or complete folders, and also tweak some basic conversion settings.

Firefox's latest - and greatest - version!

Mozilla Firefox is one of the World's most popular web browsers and was one of the first to break the stranglehold of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) on the web browsing market.


Mozilla Firefox really changed the way people browse the web when it originally burst onto the scene. Today Firefox remains an incredibly powerful and customizable browser, although competition from Google Chrome has given it a definite run for its money.

New features

Mozilla Firefox 14 is the latest version of the popular web browser and brings with it a few key and welcome new features. First among them is the company's claim to a speedier, safer browsing experience. Tests reveal that this newest version of Mozilla Firefox is certainly quick to load even the most graphics intense pages.

Firefox 14 also now features secure connections when performing Google searches to improve privacy and there's an updated site identity indicator in the URL bar. Windows users also now get silent updates while Mac users on Lion or above can use Firefox in full-screen mode.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Create a safe private network between two computers

Hamachi is a handy tool lets you connect two computers via the internet by creating your own virtual private network (VPN) and protecting it with industry-standard encryption algorithms.

This means that your communications will be safe from prying eyes at all times, creating a private channel between both computers. Of course, Hamachi can also be used in local area networks (LAN) for extra safety.

Hamachi features a simple interface that enables you to create personal safe networks in just a couple of steps. At first sight, it all looks very easy to use. Plus your connection is conveniently protected by an AES-256 encryption algorithm.

Complications arise later on when trying to share files between computers: you'll have to do it through network sharing on Windows because it's not a feature Hamachi itself supports. In the end, I have to admit we were unable to share files over Hamachi during our tests – you know how stubborn Windows folder sharing configuration can get. Oh well, at least we could have a chat – a very safe one, of course.

The Web's favorite video and animation player

Adobe Flash Player is an essential plugin for your browser that allows you to view everything from video togames and animation on the web.

Essential features

Adobe Flash Player 10 includes a range of interesting additions and improvements when compared to previous versions. Top of that list is the inclusion of support for theH.264 video codec and the HE-AAC audio codec, which together offer a much richer, higher-definition picture along with crystal-clear sound. Introducing these capabilities in Adobe Flash Player with only slightly reduced performance looks set to trigger another revolution in web video, as HD movies are already an important element on YouTube - and they look and sound great!

Compact BitTorrent client with expansive capabilities

uTorrent is one of the most popular BitTorrent clients out there for several reasons: it's fast, lightweight, easy to use and very efficient.

The new uTorrent 3 introduces lots of changes to the previous version. To begin with, the program sports atotally redesigned interface: more usable, easier to use and a perfect match for uTorrent’s web interface. Besides the new design, uTorrent 3 lets you play media in streaming as you download, rate and comment torrent files, drag and drop files to share them, and disable the UDP tracker.

After a quick installation process (although there are quite a few prompts to install browser add-ons etc) and a handy built-in speed test to make the initial setting much easier, uTorrent is ready. The program takes up minimal hard drive and PC resources, which enables you to have a good amount of torrents downloading and still be able to use your computer without any lag.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

An amazing free photo editor with lots of extra tools

Photoscape is an amazing free photo editor. It includes so many filters, tools and special effects you'll find it hard to believe it's actually free.

Photoscape includes just about everything you need to view, optimize, edit, print and have fun with your photos. In fact, it's so complete that many would call it a free Photoshop alternative. Sure, it's not quite up to the level of Photoshop, but it's truly a great alternative to Adobe's big shot - and it makes photo editing a lot more fun!

One of the first striking elements in Photoscape is its uncommon interface design. From the program's main window you can choose what you want to do: view pictures, optimize those that didn't come out so well, print several photos on a single page collage-style or perhaps add any of the dozens of filters and special effects included in the program.

Google's revolutionary web browser offers loads of great features

Google Chrome definitely deserves its position as the browser to reckon with.

Chrome's outstanding features, like its download manager, incognito browsing mode and bookmark syncing, already make it a stand out app. In version 20, it adds a more new features, as well some tweaks that make it even more user-friendly. 

New featuresBeing able to search directly from the address bar is one of the great things about Google Chrome. Now Omnibox, Google Chrome's address bar, will offer you various suggestions as you type. Depending on how accurate it thinks its results are, Chrome may even begin to pre-load a chosen page. Popular sites like Facebook and Twitter are now sure to load almost instantaneously.

You'll now also receive warnings when Google Chrome thinks a downloading file that might contain malware or something harmful to your PC. It does this by tracing the download's originating server and comparing it to sites on its blacklist. If you're concerned about privacy when it comes to Google looking at your downloads for potential malware, you can disable this feature within your browser preferences.

The latest Picasa, packed with new features

When it comes to photo viewers there are many alternatives to choose from. Picasa has always been a favorite here at Softonic, and this new version has made it our absolute top choice.

Organize your photos

The all-new Google Picasa keeps the same interface structure of previous versions, but features new enriching options to manage, edit, and show off your photos in an even more comfortable way, both offline and online – thanks to thePicasa Web Album syncing tool.

Picasa displays all your indexed photos in a handy folder structure. You can let the program scan the whole drive in search for pictures or select specific directories. A double click on any image will display it in full screen and let you access to a handful of basic editing tools: cropping, straightening, adjusting color and light or fixing red eye, among others.

Final version of the all-new free antivirus

avast! Free Antivirus 7 is the latest offering from avast! and offers a chance to see how far this excellent anti-virus has come.

Visually appealing

Traditionally here at Softonic we have a lot of time for avast!, so we were really excited to get a look at the newest version. For starters, it looks really slick, with a slim-lined installation process (which looked good, but still took a while), and a very user-friendly and clear interface. While the interface is similar to avast! 6, it's got many more options, something you'll see as soon as you open it.

Good installation options

Another nice addition that you'll notice when setting up is the option to install as the second line of defense on your computer. There are also plenty of installation options, which allow you to get the most from your anti-virus before it's even installed. Of course, there's also a default installation if the nitty-gritty's not for you.

The new instant messenger from Yahoo!

Yahoo! Messenger 11 allows you to chat to your Yahoo! and Facebook friends via instant messaging.

To bring Yahoo! Messenger up to date, Facebook chat has been integrated into the latest version, along with social games like Mafia Wars. You can now use video chat in full-screen mode, and the 'Always On' feature means you'll stay connected whether on mobile, at home or at work.

You can of course update yourFacebook status from Yahoo! Messenger, and also on Yahoo! What hasn't changed from the previous version is the amount of bloat in the app. Some people may appreciate the shared videos, social games,radio stations, emoticons, search bar and so on. However, all this stuff adds a lot of weight to the Yahoo! Messenger, and it feels unsophisticated today. The video call quality is pretty good, however, and in fact if it stuck to being a chat app, we would recommend it more highly!

The amplification of social aspects in Yahoo! Messenger aren't a revolution. If you love all the bells and whistles, you'll love this app, but many people will find it annoying and intrusive.