In my search for an RSS reader to replace the dying Google Reader, I finally settled on Feedly with a few modifications. But that’s me, and I have my own specialized news-reading needs.
What about for the rest of us? In my search, here’s what I found out:
Basically, there are three types of feed reader — actually more, but these are the ones I’m counting:
- Online use through a Web browser.
- Offline use through a standalone reader.
- Via your smartphone or other easy-to-snatch device.
Each one has its advantages and disadvantages:
Browser-based readers are easy on disk space, fairly easy to set up, and you can get your news on from any computer. Your content will be up-to-the-minute. But you need an Internet connection to do anything with it.
Stand-alone feed readers don’t require an Internet connection to read your news. Tag and save your news right there and sync everything the next time you go online. Disadvantages aplenty, though. These readers take up a lot of disk space, and your news won’t be as current as it would be if you were reading online.
Smartphone apps (I’m using Android, but expect the same if you’re using an iWhatever): You can read your news anywhere. Some will allow offline reading. Some, particularly Flipboard, offer a breathtaking graphics-rich interface. Some, however, don’t allow for offline reading (here’s looking at you, Feedly and Flipboard). Those that do will consume a bunch of internal memory, and the more graphics-laden ones will still eat memory like popcorn. Some readers are rough on your battery and cause your phone to run hot.
Each division has its contenders.
Among the browser-based, Feedly gets most of the ink. And they should. They moved the fastest in building new stuff under the hood, and it’s easy to move your Google Reader feeds to this one. Now, you can access it from any browser (via http://cloud.feedly.com) rather than use some browser extension. This means I can use my off-brand browsers — Seamonkey and Opera) to view my news.
Off the top of my head, I can also name The Old Reader, Newsblur, and Bloglines. I’m hearing from some other sites wanting to develop their own, too. Digg (amazingly still alive), AOL (back from the dead) and Facebook all have RSS readers either already active or on the drawing board.
Gee, if RSS is a dead technology, why are so many big-name entities so interested in it?
Offline, computer-based readers are a real mixed bag; some are better than others. FeedDemon is a favorite among Windows users. RSSOwl is pretty versatile, and with a Java base it can run on just about any platform (it’s also really bloated, so there’s that). Linux users (raises hand) can go with LifeRea (have that) and the uber-geeky text-only Newsbeuter (love that).
Android readers run in all shapes and sizes. A quick trip through Google Play will give you more info than you ever needed. Among the better online-only are Flipboard, Feedly, Google Currents, and Pulse. All of these have a beautiful interface and read more like a magazine than an RSS reader.
For offline Android readers I’ve played with FeedDemon, NewsRob and FeedMe. For all the options available, I don’t see a lot of choice. But maybe it’s because of my fixation for offline readers that are not overcome with bloat.
In case you’re interested (snicker), here’s my setup du jour: I’m using Feedly online, with FeedMe as the Android front end. At least for the moment that’s what works best for me. As far as offline PC-based readers, I have the two I mentioned for Linux but don’t really use them.
Anyway, that’s my two cents’ worth. Come visit me enough times for geeky advice, and you might have enough for a cup of coffee.
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