NewsGator products now free, why should I stick to Google Reader?

Note – I started this post last week. Since then, due to some other circumstances, I switched back to Google Reader. This posts outlines my experience over the last week, and why I went back!

Last week, the teams at NewsGator announced that instead of charging a few bucks for their news readers, everything was now freely available. Some of these readers, including NetNewsWire for the Mac and FeedDemon for the PC are really the top readers available. Other than my desire to always find free and/or open source ways of doing things on the computer, I would have easily paid the money to use either one of these applications.

I posted over a year ago my about my move to Google Reader. It was a move I was very happy with, and used MULTIPLE times a day, every day, over the last year. One of the main reasons that I went to an online reader was because I used multiple machines. I didn’t want to have to read posts in one place, and then re-read (or mark as read) the ones I had already seen. I even wanted to work on the source code of my preferred feed reader at the time (it was an open source C# reader) to allow it to read the sync’d information from NewsGator.

Right after I heard all the products were now free, I immediately downloaded NetNewsWire on the Mac and FeedDemon on the PC. Google Reader (like most all other readers) let me export my OLPC file to import into the other reader. I set up a News Gator account, and I was in RSS-syncing heaven.

I love Google products, and really, I would have never thought about switching. The only thing that made me even want to try was because of the speed. Google cache’s feeds, depending on their popularity. So if you have custom feeds, like your Facebook friends status updates, that only gets updated every few hours. Other more popular feeds, like Digg, get updated a few times every hour. For the most part this is great, but its really annoying when I do use particular websites, like Facebook, and the status updates are even up to 5 hours behind!

Ive enjoyed using NetNewsWire. It’s one of the perfect Mac programs, everything works the way its supposed to. The interface is really clean, the UI is very easy to use, and it has a feature that I didn’t even know was important to me – something called ‘River of News’. When I read my news, I prefer just to have a long list of items, rather than reading through each feed or each category individually. I quickly browse through my 200+ feeds, and open up those that strike my interest. If im on my cellphone, I would just start particular feeds and read them at home.

On the other hand, I really didnt like FeedDemon. It was slow. First of it all, it doesnt have this River of News flow, and that really slows down my reading. It was also very sluggish on my pretty speedy laptop, and was confusing to use at times. There were plenty of times I just wanted to give up this whole trial because of this application.

I never got to try out the Windows Mobile feed reader from News Gator. This is mainly due to me being really busy over the last week, but also because Debs and I switched cell phone providers last night. Therefore I can’t really review the program, which is ashame, because I did have high hopes for it. Now that I have a blackberry (more on that later), I notice they have a blackberry client. Looking at the screenshots, I dont think Im going to be very happy to use it, it looks closer to the Windows client than the Mac. Combined with my dislike for the Windows client, I’m not going to even waste my time installing this one on my blackberry unless I hear rave reviews on it.

Overall I was happy with this switch for a while. I have always liked NetNewsWire. I used NetNewsWire Lite at my old job to track most feeds as well as custom internal feeds we used at work. If there was a program like it that would sync on the PC, I would never touch Google Reader again. But with my complete dislike for the Windows client (slowness, hard to use, and it just took me too long to read my feeds), Im going to have to leave this mix of clients.

Time to go mark my 2000+ ‘unread items’ as read, and get back to how things were! I noticed I have a few more friends in my Google Talk list now sharing items, as well as hearing that Google Reader got some updates while I was gone!

For those considering the switch – either way – Lifehacker had a great post before I started my experiment about the pro’s and con’s of both! I suggest that you check it out!

Listening To: ‘When Your Gone’ by The Cranberries


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