electronic brain surgery since 2001

Google Reader Alternatives

Google Reader is broken for me since about two weeks now. There is still no satisfactory answer from Google, so I have to assume it will remain broken until it is fixed accidentally.

Being without a usable RSS reader sucks, so I went looking for some alternatives. I have some special needs though:

  1. needs to be webbased as I want to use it from different computers and networks
  2. it needs to show headlines only for quick scanning - details should be shown on request only
  3. it should make good use of the screen space (eg. don't waste it with useless crap)
  4. I want River-Of-News support (show all items sorted by date and not sorted by source)
  5. Categorizing/Tagging/Folders for organizing feeds
  6. Should feel fast → clever use of AJAX preferred

Well here are the readers I had a look at…


Newsgator makes use of AJAX for loading the different views but still feels somewhat sluggish. They put advertising between the items which is really annoying.

Newsgator Screenshot

  • Ads: Google ads between the items
  • Items per screen: 6
  • River of news: no
  • Layout: Two-Pane
  • Favicons: in Folders only


Rojo combines a personal newsreader with a social component. By adding “Mojo” to an item you can vote for it. If an item receives enough “Mojo” it will be promoted to the frontpage – similar to digg. Their interface is still not as compact as I'd like to have it but definitively on the better side.

Rojo Screenshot

  • Ads: no
  • Items per screen: 8
  • River of News: yes
  • Layout: Two-Pane
  • Favicons: no


Newshutch tries to be simple. For me it's too simple. It will always show full items which makes skimming impossible. But it's fast and good looking - might be the right tool for users with a handful of feeds.

Newshutch Screenshot

  • Ads: no
  • Items per screen: 0.5 - 2
  • River of News: no
  • Layout: Two-Pane
  • Favicons: in folders only

News Alloy

News Alloy's interface is crowded with icons and options. This could be a good reader if they would offer a “simple view” with better screen usage. In its current state it's not for me.

Newsalloy Screenshot

  • Ads: no
  • Items per screen: 5
  • River of News: yes
  • Layout: Two-Pane
  • Favicons: in folders only


FeedShow is no beauty but gets the job done. By default it uses a Two-Pane view with full items. Switching it to Three-Pane gives much better screen usage. Unfortunately there is no way to list items by category.

Feedshow Screenshot

Bloglines Beta

Bloglines is, according to my feedburner stats, the most popular choice behind Google Reader. I used the new beta interface which uses some Ajax and is more modern looking tan the deafault GUI. They have three view modes: “Quick View”, “Full View” and “Three Pane”. In my opinion only the latter is somewhat usable.

Bloglines Beta Screenshot


So what would I recommend? To be honest, none of the above readers comes even close to Google Reader. Most of them not even support the River-Of-News concept which is essential for handling a large number of feeds.

What really made me wonder is how all those readers make use of favicons. Instead of displaying them next to each item, they only show them in the folder/category lists. Using the favicon in a list of mixed items would make so much more sense.

I think I will trying Rojo for a while as it seems to fit my needs best. I'm also thinking about installing Tiny Tiny RSS on my own server. But I'd rather prefer to let an external service to handle the feed processing for me…

Did I miss some really great online feed reader? Let me know in the comments please.

googlereader, webservices, feedreader
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