The definitive top 5 online RSS readers
Almost a year has passed since I wrote the popular article Top 5 online RSS readers. So it’s time to revisit the subject and find out what’s happened in the year that passed and which online RSS readers are the best.
What do I look for in an online RSS or Atom Web feed reader?
- I want a service that does not require a lot of muddling around to figure out.
- I want to bring my subscriptions with me if I find a better service, so it needs to have reliable import and export capabilities.
- It has to be easy to sort and browse the feeds and items.
I have not considered start pages like iGoogle or Netvibes. Like many of Pandia’s readers, I follow a large number of blogs. I am looking for an RSS reader for doing online research and I am steering clear of optional horoscopes, cartoons or celebrity news.
Last year’s winners
Last year the Pandia top 5 online RSS readers were, in order of preference:
- Google Reader
NewsGator and Rojo scored highest because they were easy to use and stable (unlike Google Reader at that point) and because they include social features like rating, commenting and sharing posts.
In the year that passed I have kept coming back to these 5 to see how they develop. Over the holidays, I have also been looking for new or alternative powerful online RSS readers. I used a list of more than 150 online RSS readers compiled by RSS Compendium.
Perhaps 20% of the readers on the list were out of business. As I have already explained, I skipped the personalized start pages. The vast majority of the remaining services were excluded because they lacked features like OPML import and tagging or sorting feeds.
A handful of the services deserve honorable mention.
News Alloy does what all the 5 on my list do: It’s a powerful tool for reading, sorting, rating and sharing news. In addition there’s a pop-up menu that lets you bookmark posts directly (to del.icio.us, Furl or Ma.gnolia), add posts to digg or reddit, or look up the article on Google Blog Search or Technorati. There are also options to email, archive or export posts as HTML. The only drawback is, it’s too cluttered for my taste.
Kinja has been around for a long time and the service has improved during this last year. The user interface is different from many of the big players in the field: Your tags are displayed horizontally at the top of the page and the posts in each tag bundle are displayed together, each sporting an icon — images are also displayed. It’s a tool that feels friendly and if you don’t follow 100 blogs or more, I recommend that you take a look. A nice bonus is that each feed has a ‘card’ where you can go to see Alexa rank and Pagerank, site history on Wayback Machine and in the Google cache and even a translation tool.
Fwicki is not an ordinary RSS reader and it doesn’t support OPML import, but it’s still worth a mention. It’s an RSS mashup application that lets you combine, read, tag, publish and search RSS feeds. Bloggers and site owners can customize their Fwicki RSS reader page. This way you can associate the look and feel of your blog or web site with the rss reader page. Your audience can take advantage of the rss mashup you create while associating the Fwicki reader with your site through the integration of its latest design.
Top 5 online RSS readers 2008
After scouring the web for new candidates, I’m surprised to say that the candidates for top 5 online RSS readers are the same as last year. After hours and hours of research I find that there are only 5 excellent, powerful online RSS readers. If you have a favorite online RSS reader that is not mentioned here and that you think will meet the criteria above, please let me know (editor at pandia dot com).
But the landscape has changed in a year, none the less. Here are this year’s top 5:
- NewsGator. Yes, NewsGator is still my favorite. It is stuffed with power tools for news junkies and it’s easy to use — even fun!
- Bloglines Beta. Last year Bloglines only made it to number 4. Even though it is a great service, it was beginning to feel old fashioned and cumbersome. Now Bloglines has ad a face lift and a serious vitamin injection. Bloglines Beta is still the powerful RSS reader it was, only now you can make a personalized start page, choose between 3 views, drag-and-drop feed management and more. When this new Bloglines is out of Beta it will be awesome.
- Google Reader. Last year I stopped using Google Reader because it was slow and unstable. This year it’s no longer among the experimental Google Labs products. It’s not even in beta, like Google products tend to be for years . And since last year, Google has done much to improve the integration of their different products. If you use GMail, iGoogle, Google Documents etc, Google Reader is a natural and good choice.
- FeedShow. This is a gem. FeedShow is easy to use, it has lots of cool features and absolutely no clutter. It isn’t exactly gorgeous, but it’s a very solid and powerful tool.
- Rojo. Rojo used to be fun to use, but too often lately, the entire service has been down. Once or twice I could ignore, but it now feels a little unreliable to me.
For more detailed descriptions of the 5 winners, see last year’s article.