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Desktop/Offline Feed Readers – Which one should you use?

i have a subscription list of 180+ feeds and quite lately, have been struggling to find a good desktop/offline feed reader.

My minimal requirement from the desktop feed reader is as follows:

  • Import my existing OPML file [from Google Reader, the online reader that I use]
  • Organize the content, in a tree form [that’s a lame requirement, but I have sorted feeds contextually in folders]
  • Ability to sort feeds in multiple ways, a)updated recently, say within the last 2 hours, b) priority order and more..
  • Most importantly, I need an option to mark few posts for future reads. For e.g. if there is an interesting post from BusinessWeek, I want to put that in a folder for further read, while I still want to delete posts from BW feeds [to keep the reader clean].
  • Needless to say, basics like stability, shouldn’t hog the comp memory, should be easy to handle etc.
  • And of course, surprise me!!
  • Last, but not the least – Free. No Ads. No strings attached.

With the above parameters, here is the comparison of feed readers [as per their latest product version till date]. I have checked others too, but found only these worth talking about [if you think otherwise, please let me know].

Awasu
It’s a feature rich reader which is highly extensible [exposed plugins, so you can develop your own]. Awasu is a stable product, has a clean UI and one can also customize the menu/toolbars. But it lacks a very basic feature – ability to mark posts for further reads. So if you are okay with a basic and no bells-and-whistles product, Awasu might serve your need.

FeedReader
Probably one of the coolest product, I have been using FeedReader for the past 4 months. Though it isn’t that stable [have crashed multiple times, have faced issue while importing subscription from OPML files], FeedReader has a very predictable UI and feature set.

But FeedReader has major limitations too – a) autodiscovery of feed is too buggy, b) cannot search for feeds on the web, c) is not the best reader if you want to listen to podcasts/videocasts.

SharpReader
Feature list almost same as FeedReader, but highly unstable.

BlogBridge
An open source product, BlogBridge is a java based reader and relies on rating scheme [based on the feeds that are most read, inbound links to the feed and users’ keywords] to render relevant posts.

BlogBridge also has a team of experts who will share their fav. feeds based on the topic. Overall, BlogBridge is a damn good product but not so stable. Page refresh are a major problem.

Onfolio
I have used Onfolio for almost a year and I would still say that it’s the best product in the market. Only if they had lesser constraints. To use Onfolio, you need to have Windows Live toolbar [FYI – Onfolio has been acquired by Microsoft!].

I already have Google toolbar, and I don’t mind using Live toolbar, only if they had similar features as Google’s. Live toolbar is a poor product and is one of the major reason why I have stopped using Onfolio.

newZie
Ah! Found this wonderful product a week back and am hooked on to newZie. It’s a readers’ delight. What separates a sexy product from a regular one is not just nifty feature set, but also the overall experience. A colorful editor, neat UI and tons of smart feature sets newZie apart from other products.

Apart from covering all my requirements [listed above], newZie is a very smart product. Few of the features I enjoy are:

  • News slideshow – You can view a slideshow of news updated in the last 2 hours.
  • Color coding – Diff. color codes to represent feed timelines.
  • Automated Maintenance – Though this feature is present in other products too, newZie makes maintenance as easy as it should be.
  • And beyond – There are other nifty feature like Reporting stats, Defining priority levels, news bar etc. which makes newZie a highly sticky product.

Final verdict:
newZie comes out a clear winner while FeedReader and SharpReader are a great tool [but not the best]. If you use Live toolbar, go for Onfolio.
Also see: UniveRSS: a 3D feed reader from Microsoft [runs only on Vista]

Technorati tags: newZie, Awasu, , SharpReader, Onfolio, Desktop Reader, BlogBridge

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