YouTube downloaders tend to fall into two types: freeware that does the basic job of downloading and saving files from YouTube and maybe a few more sites, and premium (that means pay) tools that typically offer more features and capabilities to justify the cost, such as compatibility with many more sites, the ability to save videos in different file types and quality levels, and no ads or watermarks. Kotato's YouTube Downloader is the latter type, with an emphasis on convenience. For example, you can save videos from just about any hosting site, and in HD and HQ, too. It can convert videos between different formats automatically to play on your smartphone or other devices. If you're watching a video and want to save it, YouTube Downloader can do it with a click. The latest release supports Windows 8.
YouTube Downloader's installer detected a new version during the setup process and asked to update our installation, which we OK'd. YouTube Downloader's compact, efficient layout looks a lot like similar tools we've tried, with fields for entering URLs and a destination folder as well as drop-down lists for selecting output format and quality. An Options menu (next to the Help menu) offered basic autoplay and shutdown options as well as Accelerate Downloads, which is selected by default but can be deselected if necessary. The Options menu opens an Audio/Video Format Settings tool that includes a Device list with most mobile device types. There's also a tabbed Settings dialog that includes browser integration options (IE and Firefox; Chrome is compatible but you must use its own extension manager) as well as themes, proxies, and similar choices.
We downloaded a variety of videos with YouTube Downloader, which did indeed prove faster and more capable than similar freeware, both in downloading and converting (which many free downloaders can't do). It's clearly a superior tool to the stripped-down freeware. YouTube Downloader is free to try for 10 days, which is long enough to be able to tell if its extra features and convenience are worth paying for, which may come down to how often you save videos.
Editors' note: This is a review of the trial version of YouTube Downloader 5.2.