BearShare looks really good in comparison to its file-sharing competitors with overwrought interfaces. Besides the splashy home page when first loading, the relatively clean interface gets you to the business of swapping files quickly. The search feature presents 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. When we tried to sort results by rank, it didn't work; we could discern no particular order. 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 one out of four files we attempted. But it depends on the search terms you use.
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. With its clean interface, BearShare is one of the better file-swapping applications available.
This version features a built-in media player with the ability to preview files while they're downloading, an integrated Help button with a user guide and Gnutella Good Citzen tips, and fixed sorting to show sources in the search column. Also included in this update is fixed download/upload logic for a better chance of receiving rare content.