How many times did you visit a website with excellent image galleries that you just couldn't download as a batch? Of course that it's always good for the business to keep users as long as possible on your website so they see as many ads as possible, maybe they'll click one...but
looking from the user's point of view, I can say that nobody is immortal, so what about a little software helper?
In most cases, you could use a download manager that supports batch downloading, but if you can have these features inside a program able to act as an image viewer too, what would you choose? Of course that everything comes for a price, NeoDownloader and Pica Loader, today's duelists, can hurt your budget a little, but that's life...you can't have everything for free, unfortunately. Pica Loader
The first image downloading tool I have today for you is called Pica Loader and its last version is labeled 1.5.0. Unfortunately, I didn't get any present from its producer, VoWSoft Ltd., so I'll have the 30 days trial version here. The setup package has 1.65MB in size, and the price of the full version is 49.95$. These being said, we should check the main features of this program and see if they are really worth the price.
If this was a simple download manager, the interface wouldn't have been such an issue, but since we need to preview images inside this program's main window, this means that it should look at least decent. Well, it seems that for now, "decent" is all we can get from Pica Loader. The design doesn't look really fresh, but the program's features are well organized and you won't get a headache after using it. The interface's elements are the classic menu bar and a toolbar, as well as three panels that display the tasks, image previews and current task details.
This program is very easy to use, and once you open it for the first time, you'll be able to choose between the existing samples or creating a new project. A project consists of one or more download tasks and is organized as a tree, with the branches representing the tasks.
Unfortunately, the image formats supported are not as many as one would expect for such a price, but JPG, PCX, PNG, TIFF, BMP, GIF and WMF files can be grabbed easily from the Internet with this program. When I say "easily", I keep in mind the multithreaded downloads (up to 50 download tasks at once!), proxy server support and the resume function for broken downloads.
The advanced HTML analyst engine of this program can follow almost every existing link, and if you want to filter the pictures you are downloading, there's a script editor that can use Perl 5 compatible regular expressions, and the maximum amount of pictures that can be downloaded in a single project is 700,000!
All in all, things are fine here, and maybe I overlooked some features that will be the delight of other people, since I am not crazy about regular expressions or speed, all I am looking for is a program to help me get the job done. Pica Loader is one of those programs, but its price made me look for something else, and my latest find is... NeoDownloader
NeoDownloader is another program created for helping us grab images from the Internet, and its latest version is 2.1, and despite the fact that you have to pay 39.95$ for its full version, you can use the shareware only for a month without any limitations! Its setup package has 1.8MB in size, and installing it was as easy as possible, so all that we have left to do is check the program's interface and features and see how it behaves compared to Pica Loader.
This time, I got what I wanted - a fresh, well organized interface that looks just like it should - a main menu, the toolbar, a project tree pane, the image preview area (this one can also be used as a basic audio/video player) and the download progress panel.
This program is easier to use than Pica Loader and I also find it really handy, since it can even download ZIP and EXE files, so if you need a basic download manager, you got it!
The URL and size filters are here to make your life easier and help you choose to download only the high resolution images, and since you can configure custom file extensions to download, you will only loose the preview opportunity, but that shouldn't be much of a problem - after all, when using an usual download manager, you don't get to preview anything...
Before creating a new project, you can take your time and download the built ones - be careful to check the properties and change the download folder to one that exists on your hard drive. At last, I have to tell you that you should have a lot of space available on your hard drive, because only the submarines and planes pictures made my drive space 4GB smaller...
The number of simultaneous downloads can go up to 10, HTTP and SOCKS proxies are supported, and the Drop Basket can help you get content from a website with a simple drag and drop operation. This is it - take or leave it, but before moving to the conclusions, there are some screenshots waiting to be viewed... Conclusion
NeoDownloader is my choice and I have no doubts about it, because it's cheaper, looks great, has a better preview capability and, of course, it's so easy to use that you should restrict your kids' access to it, because you may find your hard drive full of pictures in no time...