Whenever I'm setting up on a new computer or test machine at work, or even after I've downloaded my must-have programs on a new home machine, one of the first things I do is grab an RSS newsreader. Though you can use Web browser favorites to hit and save your most visited sites, newsreaders have a few advantages that make getting all the latest updates even easier.
With a good newsreader on your machine, anytime you see an available RSS feed at a Web site (usually with an orange RSS or XML label), you can have all the latest news from that page delivered to you. Think of it as having your own digital paper boy. Once you've loaded up your RSS reader with feeds from your favorite blogs, news, and technology sites, the latest posts show up in your newsreader automatically without you needing to seek them out.
The newsreader category runs the gamut of interface diversity so you can get your feeds in a lot of different ways. There are news tickers like the Mighty Ticker, which show headlines you can open as they trail across your screen; unique toolbar-like apps like KlipFolio, which sit as a stand-alone widgets on your desktop; and Web-based apps like Google Reader (for those with a Google account) that offer a strong browser-based alternative .
To keep it simple, I've narrowed my selections down to newsreaders you can download right away with the most intuitive and commonly used interface. I just want to point out, when you're ready to explore some of the other methods of getting the latest news, there are plenty of options available. As always, if you have a favorite newsreader that's not featured here, let us know in the comments!
RSS Bandit is a free newsreader offering the standard three-pane interface with your feeds on the the left part of the interface, headlines on the upper right, and story summaries on the lower right. Clicking on a story opens the story in full-page view like a browser. With this type of setup, you can click through your feed list quickly and browse through the stories you want to read without shuffling through a bunch of browser bookmarks. One of the best things about RSS Bandit is the ability to detect feeds on a page. So when you find a site you like, you can use the Wizard to discover all available feeds before making your choice.
Snarfer is another great free newsreader with a similar interface layout to RSS Bandit. This one comes with several feeds already set up for you to browse, but it's just as easy to add them on your own. What makes this app interesting is it includes a wizard you can set up to do complex searches on Craigslist and eBay so you'll be the first to know when a specific item becomes available. I also like how it offers a tabbed interface so you can get important stories on screen which you can browse when you're ready.
FeedBeast is a shareware alternative (usually $18.95, but $5 for a limited time. Check the developer site for more info) which offers the standard three-pane interface, but is a bit more polished than the free offerings. Features like e-mail synchronization to get important news to your in-box and Word Watch, which lets you search for news via keywords, are handy additions. It comes with numerous sorting options so you can get to the exact information you're after. Also, getting new feeds from your favorite sites couldn't be easier with FeedBeast's one-click subscription feature.
If you're a news junkie like I am and you're sick of drowning in bookmarked favorites, download one of these apps. You'll quickly realize how much more efficient your daily news and information browsing can be with a good newsreader.