Last week we compared some of the latest Usenet providers on the market. Those specializing in web-based nzb downloads. Since then we’ve heard from another new service focusing on the same niche. Usegrab is similar to providers like NzbLord and NzbLeecher in that they all make it easy for Usenet fans to download from newsgroups without a newsreader. While not as robust as Easynews webreader they make it simple to download via your web browser. Usegrab is currently offering free access to beta test the service.
So what makes Usegrab unique? Maybe not one-of-a-kind unique but allowing web-based Usenet downloads is a specialty. A niche with only a handful of services that has been evolving over the last several months.
Let’s first take a look at how Usegrab works and then compare them to the other web-based NZB download services. As mentioned above Usegrab is currently in beta. Allowing users the chance to test the web interface and download Usenet content free of charge. As with most free offerings there are some limitations.
Here are some specific details of the Usegrab beta test:
- Free web Usenet access – NZB downloader
- Supports 1,300 days of binary retention
- Allows you to stream video content
- Download speed capped at 5 mbps
- File size for downloads capped at 5 GB
- NZB files can not be larger than 3 MB
- Downloads are kept on the server 24-48 hours
Now that you know what to expect from Usegrab we’ll dive into our experience testing their web interface. You can visit usegrab.com to enjoy the same level of access we had for this review.
Step #1 – Find an NZB File
To search for NZB files on Usegrab just click the “Find an NZB” tab and search for your topic of interest. You can also use sites like Binsearch to find newsgroup content. Having a built-in engine is a convenience we enjoy from Usenet clients like Newshosting and Newbin Pro but we still use a variety of sources to find NZB files.
We hopped over to Nzbmatrix and grabbed an NZB for Ubuntu 8.10 to get something a little bit older. That way we could test the retention of Usegrab as well as the interface and other features. With the NZB file saved we headed over to Usegrab.com and clicked the “Choose an NZB” button. After selecting our Ubuntu NZB the Usegrab interface took over. Presenting the following screen while processing our request.
After about a minute we were presented with another screen explaining a delay in processing our request. In our case the delay was short. Less than 45 seconds. The screen also gave some other useful information. When downloading video content from Usegrab you can choose to have it stream. When streaming video you can expect a 5 to 15 minute delay to allow time to convert the video. Likely a very popular feature of Usegrab.
Step #2 – Download Usenet Content
After the NZB file was processed Usegrab presented a screen to donload the associated Ubuntu files.
Usegrab presented us with file info along with download size and other useful details. They even provide a “share URL” you can use to access the content. Along with the time the file will be available. Our Ubuntu request was saved to be downloaded in the next 24 hours. Rather than wait we went ahead and downloaded the 700 MB zipped Ubuntu distro from Usegrab. The download took 24 minutes to complete.
We enjoyed testing Usegrab. Their web interface has a clean design that is easy to use. The beta test limits didn’t come into play for us testing our Ubuntu download. Other than the 5 mbps speed cap which was fine for testing. We didn’t run into any issues and would definitely recommend the free beta test to others.
What comes next for Usegrab? We understand they will be adding premium accounts to the lineup. Allowing for faster downloads, RSS feeds and longer retention of downloaded files. We look forward to checking out their premium plans and will bring you more details once released. For now give their beta test a try.