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Jun 23, 2008

The (Almost) Complete Guide for Free Mobile RSS Readers!


I spent some time during the weekend trying to find a free rss reader for my Windows Mobile device. I thought I will share with you all some of my thoughts.

So what features was I looking for?
Well, I believe only the basics...



I searched something with offline capabilities since my typical usage would be to download my entire feeds via the cradle and then enjoy a quick offline reading.

Speaking about offline capabilities, I also wanted the updates to start automatically when connecting the device to the cradle.
I hate using my stylus, so a finger friendly user interface was extremely important to me.
They say one image can replace a thousand words. For me, a picture can save the entire feed. So I was looking for a reader that will show images (hopefully even in offline mode).
User interface is one of the most important thing in software, so I tested the small things: read/unread feeds visual signs, number of new feeds, ease of configuring the settings, etc.
Import capabilities for my *.opml file was also important.
And last, since this blog is mostly about promoting well deserved freewares - it had to be free.

So let's see how it went:


Upvise:

Upvise was my first selection. It has an iPhone like user interface, which is working very well.
You can zoom in/out the views to make the fonts bigger, and the overall look and feel is great.
There are few things missing: you cannot tell how many new feeds you have per each channel, and – you cannot see images which is a huge problem for people like me.
The offline mode works fine, but you must set it manually, and it takes about 5-6 clicks to do so, and then – the cradle does not set it back to online so you have to set it online again – which is really annoying.
Bottom line - Event though I like some of it, I will probably not use Upvise...



From what I’ve seen - this is one of the favorites, many people are using it and it also has a nice Internet Explorer toolbar for the PC and a nice today plugin.
I downloaded it, but I must say I found it hard to use. It seems to be working online, and does not really let you disconnect.
I found myself struggling a bit with the user interface until I managed to make it work.

Overall impression is that this is not the right tool for me as it misses 2 of the most important parameters: offline mode, and fun user interface.



I actually like this one. Nice and simple, could see how it can work out between us…
Unfortunately, the import of my opml file did not succeed and only 2 channels (out of 50) had been added…
Can work offline which is cool, but has one big limitation: it does not present images – even while online. It has a nice search feature – good if you have a lot of channels.
It comes pre-populated with a large list of channels which is nice as well.

Overall impression is very good, even though it is not perfect. For a freeware I think it is very good. (if you can leave without the pictures which I cannot…)

Hung on - we are getting there...


viigo is really impressive!
In order to get it you need to register, but it is really simple.

The application connects automatically when you connect your device to the cradle.
It has a lovely user interface which present different icons near the blog channels.

It also presents the number of unread feeds which is important (I just wish they would make the up bar closer as it wastes too much screen place).
Import is available from many readers including Google reader which is nice. The freeware works on blackberry as well (I wonder if it’s good or bad).
First update (of around 40 sites) took me a really long time! I tried it for the second time and it crushed, not sure it was because of the volumes, but after that it worked better.
Speed is not so great but acceptable, but the main problem with this freeware is with the images: just when I was certain I found the perfect one I discovered that the images are only working when you are online.

Almost perfect! Maybe the one I will use - but I'm not sure yet...

Iambic TopStory

This one has working versions for windows mobile and palm, which can explain the user interface which is not well adjusted to Windows Mobile.
No soft keys menus, no match for fingers, but I decided to try it because I was becoming desperate to find a reader with offline images.
Working very slow, at least at the beginning…
It has import capabilities so I tried adding my blog – which took a while, and then I received and error message… well, I give up, at least for now, if one of you are using it and likes it – please send me a comment.

Nope, can't use this one... people might see me with that...

pRSSReader:



One of the famous ones, has most of the things I was looking for.
I managed to add some channels, view images and navigate pretty much OK.
The problem is that it was never designed for 240,240 screen (as you can see in the screenshots…) I had 2 scrollbars on my screen, which didn’t look so good.
After playing with it for a while I found that:
A. I don’t like the UI of it. I have to navigate from the management view to the actual view all the time…
B. It works very well, has most of the things I was looking for.
C. The images are being downloaded only on online synchronization.
D. Couldn’t find the import option (maybe because of my 240,240 screen?)

Overall – it is obviously one of the best free RSS reader out there (was a nominee for the best PocketPC app in 2006), but I didn't like it so much.




I saw the video and immediately liked this one. Looks exactly like the RSS reader I was looking for!

Classic UI (list of channels, some visual indications about the status of each channel), modern design with easy navigation through the forms, I love it!
So I downloaded it, and tried it for a while, but it just kept on connecting! Again! And again! And I tried to stop it with no success!
So here’s the deal with BeyondPod, it synchronizes all the posts, but not the images, so when you open your downloaded items it tries to connect again in order to complete the download of the images. If you can leave with that - this is probably the best one for you.

Bottom line: Almost perfect… but not… nevertheless this is probably the best one so far…



So...

Which one of those great freewares will live to see tomorrow's dawn (on my device...)?
What would be the end of the ones who don't?
Who am I? and what are we doing here?
And above all: Will Megatron steal Optimus Matrix?


The answers to all of those questions depend on how it goes...
I will continue to update you about my Mobile RSS reading experience later on this week...

Comments and more readers are more than welcome!



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