I have to admit that out of every website in existence, YouTube is probably my favorite. Not only do I have many of my own videos shared on it, I like watching other people's videos as well. YouTube contains an endless variety of content and I have gotten into the habit of watching random channels each night while I'm exercising.
As great as YouTube is on its own, however, there are plenty of apps out there that make it even better. Most of the YouTube-oriented apps that are available today are simple downloaders, but there are some other types of apps that provide more unique functionality. This article discusses five such apps.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
1: Free YouTube to MP3 Converter
Free YouTube to MP3 Converter (Figure A) is a free tool for converting the audio from a YouTube video into an MP3 file. This tool is simple, yet it works surprisingly well. Just paste the URL of a YouTube video into the converter's interface, choose the desired audio quality, and let the converter do the rest. The converter even creates its own "album art" based on the video from which the audio was extracted.
One more thing I want to quickly mention about Free YouTube to MP3 Converter: You have to be careful when you install it or it will install a number of nonrelated browser "tools."
2: Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield (Figure B) is a free tool for masking your IP address and making it appear as though you are located in a different country. On the surface, this hardly seems like a tool for enhancing the YouTube experience, but it does have its place.
Many of the hotels that I have stayed in over the last few years block Websites such as YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu. Some people claim that this is done in an effort to encourage hotel guests to order pay per view. Others have suggested that hotels block such sites as a way of conserving internet bandwidth. Whatever the reason, Hotspot Shield will likely be able to get you access to YouTube and other blocked sites.
Hotspot Shield acts as an Internet proxy. The client computer establishes an encrypted tunnel to a remote Hotspot Shield server, which then accesses web content on the client's behalf.
3: DFX Audio Enhancer
DFX Audio Enhancer (Figure C) improves the quality of the audio that's playing on your PC. The audio source doesn't seem to matter, so this tool works fine for improving the sound quality of YouTube videos.
DFX Audio Enhancer appears to be geared toward audiophiles. It works similarly to some of the home theatre receivers, in that it allows you to use preset configurations or to manually control settings such as fidelity, ambience, 3D surround, dynamic boost, and hyperbass.
DFX Audio Enhancer sells for $29.99, but a free trial version is available for download.
4: Ashampoo ClipFinder HD 2
Ashampoo ClipFinder HD 2 (Figure D) is a free tool for finding video clips across a variety of video hosting sites. Simply enter a search query and ClipFinder will locate videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Daily Motion, Google, and more.
In addition to allowing you to play videos from the various video hosting sites, this tool includes a built-in video downloader.
5: Axara 2D to 3D Video Converter
2D to 3D Video Converter (Figure E) is a utility for converting video that was originally filmed in standard 2D to 3D. The software allows YouTube videos to be downloaded and converted to 3D, but it can also be used to convert files you already own. The software supports a wide variety of video formats, including AVI, MPG, MOV, WMV, SWF, and FLV.
Going in, I honestly wasn't sure how well a 3D converter was going to work on a video that wasn't originally filmed in 3D. However, the results were surprisingly good, considering that the source material wasn't native 3D.
Axara 2D to 3D Video Converter sells for $29.95, but a free trial is available for download.
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What apps have you used to enhance your YouTube experience? Share your suggestions with fellow TechRepublic members.