Here is my entire experience.
I read about the programme at Music Industry Blog [HT: Duncan, who reports a satisfactory OSX experience]. I then searched around for the install files, and found only the stories from a few days ago of the programmer having pulled the programme. As it's open source and was up at GitHub, a pile of alternatives remain available. Had I simply followed the link from Music Industry Blog to the writeup at TechCrunch, I'd have found it more easily. Downloading and installing from there was simple: extract the .zips to a folder, run the .exe.
The programme has a very slick interface. I decided to run a few 5-second samples from the middle of a few films to check:
- Does the film work?
- Is the viewing quality reasonable, or is it some shaky camera from inside a movie theatre?
- Sound quality, including language.
Here is my entire experience.
I started Popcorn Time. Browsed through some content. Hit the following:
- Princess Mononoke: Was in Japanese, no English subtitles, not advertised as being the Japanese version, though non-English subtitles were advertised.
- A set of films then failed to load: they went from the buffering notice to only a spinning circle of failure. I then restarted the programme. On second go-round, I retried some of those films. And:
- Frozen: Buffering took twice as long as typical Netflix start. But excellent quality. Choice of 720P or 1080P.
- Wolf of Wall Street: Buffering took four times as long as typical Netflix start. But decent quality. Worse resolution than typical Netflix, playback stopped briefly during play.
Then, I tried the search bar instead of just hitting things in the browse window.
- My Neighbour Totoro: no results
- Strange Brew: no results
- Goodbye, Pork Pie: no results
- Rambo: the search window started hanging, had to restart the programme. Restarting it took a rather long time; was about to force-close when it came up. It came up with First Blood, which worked in 720P.
- Amelie: Worked fine. All in French (as it should be, but not advertised as such), no subtitles. 480p.
- Transformers: pulled up the three new movies, didn't find the old 80s cartoon. I didn't hit the links.
I've now deleted the programme, as I pay for content and was only interested in seeing how well this works. It does seem a reasonable alternative to paid content. Compared to Netflix, it has much more new content, but also more surprises - as you'd expect from a torrent server. There are reasonable odds you'll come up with foreign-language versions of foreign-language films, you're likely to have to restart the programme a few times as you go, but I didn't catch any Russian-dubbed versions of English movies (though I didn't sample many movies at all).
It isn't good enough, in my view, to dominate a paid version where folks wouldn't get these minor surprises and necessary re-starts, but I have a fairly high willingness to pay. The glitches were irritating rather than experience-destroying. It's dead-simple to install and run. In the absence of a paid version offering similar functionality, a lot of folks will find Popcorn Time awfully tempting.
I do not encourage you to install and run Popcorn Time. It is still stealing content. Netflix with geounblocking - at least I'm still paying for it. If you do decide to install and run it, play careful: I suspect the programme could well attract folks who wouldn't think to mask their torrenting appropriately. You'll have to do your own searches to find out how to do that.