News Feaster

Draw feeds from Atom, RSS, RDF, and HTML sources with this free reader.

The Internet is the Best Thing Ever for news junkies, and RSS feeds help make it that way. Pmcc's News Messenger is a free news reader that reads not only Atom and RSS pages but also HTML, so it can read headlines from sites that don't support syndication. It requires Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 or higher.

We extracted and saved News Messenger's program file, which immediately scanned for updated headlines when we opened it. The program displays headlines and brief summaries as well as time stamps in a narrow vertical column that can be configured to open on the left or right as well as dragged around. The default feed was CNN.com, but we could choose from a wide range of feeds from a drop-down list at the top of the interface. News Messenger displayed five headlines, with five more available by scrolling down; hovering over some entries produced a thumbnail view of the page, while clicking on entries took us to the story's Web page. We right-clicked the program's system tray icon to access basic settings like Always On Top, Search, and Refresh, and also opened the Options dialog. This tabbed box let us configure transparency and fonts, choose content thumbnails and tooltips, add and remove sites, set proxies, enter tags for ignored words, and even import and export OPML data. The Configure Sites tool let us set up feeds as Atom, RSS, RDF, or HTML and specify link, date, and other data where applicable. The program's site offered some documentation, but we didn't see a Help file.

News Messenger proved more versatile than the usual RSS freeware, with the ability to monitor and draw from a wide range of sites. We found that feeds refreshed quickly and even loaded quickly when we switched sites. We like News Messenger, though we'd like to see the ability to customize the interface, such as a horizontal configuration.

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