Our editors say:
With file-sharing competitors presenting overwrought interfaces, BearShare looks really good in comparison. Besides the splashy home page you see when you first load it up, this relatively clean interface gets you to the business of swapping files quickly. The search feature is very good, presenting results for each search term in individual windows. Each search term is also listed in a box in the lower right-hand corner with controls that let the user stop or delete the search. Sorting results by rank didn't work; we could discern no particular order after clicking the column header. The quality of our search results was mediocre. Very few results showed a ranking better than one, and we were only able to actually download 1 out 4 files we attempted. Of course, our search terms might not have been very popular on the network.
Like some of its competitors, BearShare includes community functions intended to enhance its appeal. The message board is nice, letting users post and carry on public discussions on a variety of topics. The Java-based chat client can't compare to established instant messengers such as ICQ or Yahoo Messenger. Burn CD and Security buttons lead to other software downloads from Acoustica and McAfee. The McAfee software and other security features are a welcome addition, addressing a long-neglected issue in the file-swapping world. Best of all, BearShare's advertisement intrusiveness is minimal--we only encountered one pop-up window while using it. BearShare's nice search functionality and clean interface make it one of the better file-swapping applications available.