Nothing helps you get through a tough day at the office than a good old-fashioned viral email. Whether it’s funny, stupid, interesting or just plain sick, receiving a forwarded video, picture or text document is the highlight of the day for many a tortured office drone. Now, thanks to the rather unique MetaCafe, you don’t even need to wait for your pals to throw this spirit-lifting material your way. The basic premise of the software is that it automatically trawls the web for popular viral items including movies, images, games and other time-wasting files. Within just a few minutes of firing up the app (or allowing it to load automatically on start-up) you’ll be presented with a series of the hottest files doing the rounds on email at the moment. Each item comes with a preview thumbnail and a brief description of what it’s about. You can then choose to download and play any movies, or view images within the MetaCafe interface.
The simplicity of this program is quite staggering and it makes it as easy as possible to siphon the stuff that’s likely to appeal to you. The categories (video, images, games, and other) can be customized so you only receive items that are of interest to you, such as funnies, news-related, sports-related etc. There’s a very helpful idiot’s guide that appears when you launch the program and the online help is particularly useful. Other useful features include a ‘TV mode’ for viewing videos in full-screen with movie player controls, and the ability to forward links to the items to your buddies from within the program. You can even submit your own files to MetaCafe if you’ve been forwarded a particularly good file that you want to share with the rest of the user base.
Generally, the operation and performance of MetaCafe is very slick but there are a couple of things that bugged us a bit. For instance, it can take a while for the program to find new items when you start and this is made more confusing by the fact that there is no progress bar to show you that it's actually doing something. You should also be careful to ensure that the adult content filter is checked, as some of the material can be a little risqué for youngsters or the faint of heart.
Despite these minor glitches, this is a very original software concept that will help brighten up your day and amuse your friends and family to boot.