Thursday, April 17, 2008

FeedDemon 2.6 Review - A free, full-featured RSS newsreader application

FeedDemon 2.6 RSS reader screenshot

Download FeedDemon 2.6

When I started this blog, I soon realized I needed a better way to keep abreast of the latest free software news. I had tried RSS feeds before, using Opera's built-in feed reader, but it just didn't "feel" right. Opera wasn't designed primarily as a RSS reader, and it showed. So I started a search for a dedicated RSS reader that I could live with. The result of my search was FeedDemon 2.6 from NewsGator, an intuitive, easy-to-use RSS feedreader and, in what may be the best-kept secret around, a built-in tabbed browser that is a joy to use.

FeedDemon is based around Internet Explorer, but it doesn't really show - it's a very well-done and responsive application. Since it only uses around 15MB of ram, it should be responsive on older systems as well. The user-interface is clean and uncluttered, with lots of real-estate left over for viewing feeds.

A list of all the feeds you are subscribed to is shown in the left-hand pane of the display. Clicking on one of the feed titles brings up its content in the right-hand pane. The feed can be viewed by feed order, date order or alphabetically. There is a convenient Next button on the toolbar which cycles through the available feeds. Toolbar buttons also allow you to select between a display of the full content for each post, just summaries, or just the titles.

There is a built-in search dialogue which allows you to search for content within feeds - just click on Tools>Search subscriptions. You can define Watches, which watch the feeds you specify for certain keywords and alert you when found. There is also a convenient Clippings folder, where you can drag and drop individual posts within a feed for future reference. One other feature of note is a Reports function, which lists feeds with popular topics, feeds that haven't updated recently or feeds that have errors. These reports simplify housekeeping considerably.

FeedDemon 2.6 browser view screeshot

As I mentioned before, the built-in browser is superb. Clicking on any feed title in feed view will take you to that feed's site - no need to open an external browser window. The browser is tabbed, so you can browse back and forth between feeds and sites with ease. It's just possible that FeedDemon could replace whatever other browser you're using - it's fast, renders well and has lots of screen space for content. It's also easy to subscribe to any site's feed from within the browser, just click on the site's RSS feed button and the Add New Feed dialogue opens - no copying/pasting links.

The Bottom Line...

If you need a dedicated RSS reader, then by all means download FeedDemon and give it a try. It's the best dedicated reader I've found, plus the built-in browser makes feedreading a much more natural experience. While you're at the NewsGator site, look at some of the other useful RSS tools that this company has to offer.

Download FeedDemon 2.6

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