Blinkx review

Blinkx has never worried about daring to be different, but different isn’t always better. The sliding scale that promises to offer control over the impact of indexing upon system resources is simply eye candy – there are just slow, automatic and fast settings like most other apps here. But with an 8 per cent CPU load during automatic indexing, and a very credible 6 per cent overall, you can’t accuse Blinkx of slowing down the PC. We were stunned when Blinkx took only 98 seconds to index our 1GB test directory, until closer inspection revealed it hadn’t indexed any of our emails or MP3s.

This latest version manages to combine local and web-based searches seamlessly, and the same can be said of the unobtrusive mini-toolbar, which integrates into the titlebar of your browser and most active windows.

Bringing searching into any Windows application is a great idea, and tailoring results to be a contextual match for whatever content is within that window at the time is something of a Holy Grail within the search world. Unfortunately, it remains just that for Blinkx, with links being tenuous at best and downright bizarre more often than not. Desktop searching itself fares much better thanks to the combination of conceptual, Boolean and keyword technologies used.

Although the document viewer continues to improve, it remains distinctly average, with PDF and Word documents shown in plain text only. Video streams are handled superbly, but image handling is poor. There’s no thumbnail view or image scaling, which is completely impractical for large images. However, there’s no shortage of file support, so there’s no need for extra plug-ins.

We were impressed with the Smart Folders, which monitor the content of documents as they’re indexed and can assign them, explicitly or implicitly, to pre-configured subject-driven directories. It’s easy to create these and, once you’ve dropped a few documents into one, Blinkx will automatically update it with relevant new content as it’s indexed. Blinkx introduces two new types of Smart Folder – customisable and shareable – which allow you to email copies of content to people you want to share with and to deliver that content via a website or blog.

When we last reviewed Blinkx, we were impressed by the technology, but concluded that it had a long way to go before it could compete with the big names in Desktop search. Emerge it has done, but it remains dogged by inconsistencies.

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