Miro inches closer to full release

Miro releases Public Preview 3, and the open-source video player and channel manager may have beaten its instability bug.

Miro Public Preview 3 has been unleashed for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It seems like this is the version of the freeware Internet TV channel player and aggregator that we've all been waiting for. Crashes seem to be a problem mostly of the past. The smart player, able to download content on the fly as well as play nearly any video on your machine makes Miro's appeal hard to resist.

While most of the functionality and features were present in the previous version, this version of the program formerly known as Democracy Player adds some nice tweaks in addition to curing the crashing sickness.

The video search works on channels as well as video Web sites such as YouTube, DailyMotion, and Mefeedia. (Credit: Participatory Culture Foundation Inc.)

Instead of multiple program crashes across multiple platforms, Miro didn't crash once on Windows Vista and only had one snafu on Windows XP. It bears repeating that this depends greatly on your own machine, but the stability issues thankfully seem to be not much more than a bad memory.

Other new features make using the program simply that much easier. It now generates thumbnails for videos that don't have them and shows the channel icon instead of a generic icon next to videos in the left nav. It remembers search terms, so that if you're searching for, say, Sharon Jones and the DAP Kings on YouTube, you can download and watch the first video that comes up, then hit the Search option and return to your previous search results.

Miro\'s channels make video surfing intuitive and easy. (Credit: Participatory Culture Foundation Inc.)

Being able to remember recent search results like this caused a bit of a hang as the program jumped from player mode to channel mode, but not one longer than 5 seconds.

There's also a new first-time user guide, an excellent tool that loads when you launch Miro. It features a video tutorial, as well as step-by-step instructions for adding Topics, Channels, and How to watch. There are now permalinks for videos, too, an excellent feature for video bloggers.

However, be warned, Avast users: The antivirus program has been picking up the latest version of Miro as malware. Apparently, the Miro people are talking to the Avast people, so hopefully we'll see a fix for this soon.

I've noted in the past how Miro's greatest flaw was its lack of stability. It has more than 2,500 channels, supports torrents, saves vids from YouTube and other similar sites, it's open source, supports HD videos, and more. If this stability problem is well and truly gone, Miro may really be the only video player you'll ever need.