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Review: FeedDemon 2.0, Nourishment For News Junkies

The second version of FeedDemon offers a variety of options in a variety of styles for serious RSS and blog readers.

Before browsers began offering RSS readers of their own, you had to find your own third-party application in order to get your daily (or hourly, or minute-by-minute) fix of news, blog entries, and other items. One of the favorite apps among RSS fans was FeedDemon, which distinguished itself from its freeware cohorts by offering more features and a snazzier interface.

Now that both IE7 and Firefox 1.5 come with RSS readers already in place (and if you don't like Firefox's current reader, you can always add one of several extensions), FeedDemon's challenge is to offer enough to justify its $30 price tag. And does it? You bet.

FeedDemon gives RSS junkies a way to keep their feeds organized and up-to-date. Click image to enlarge.
This latest major upgrade of FeedDemon offers a large range of features and an interface that is flexible enough to suit almost any news addict's needs. You can view either all your feeds, only those with unread items, or only flagged feeds. You can filter your feeds by keywords, hide items you've already read, show item descriptions as part of the list, or show only the headlines. You can have one, two, or three windows displaying your feeds, the headlines, and the article content -- or you can view the content in your browser instead.

For example, I set FeedDemon up so that I can see an outline of all my subscriptions on the left, and headlines from the highlighted subscription in the center. When I click on a headline, I can see the article in FeedDemon's tabbed browser on the right, which FeedDemon calls a "newspaper." There are several styles of newspaper to choose from, with names like Expando or Photo Strip. With each style, you get the same information, but in different colors, typefaces, and layouts.

Another new feature, and one that I found really useful, is a summary page that clues you in on which of your feeds still have unread items, which have items you have flagged, which you pay the most attention to and which you pay the least attention to. For people with 50 or more feeds (you know who you are) this can be a real bonus: If you're beginning to feel an infoglut, you can glance at the summary, find the 18 feeds that you haven't bothered to read in about six months, and clean 'em out.

In fact, the app is filled with small but useful features. For example, the current version of FeedDemon synchronizes with two online RSS feed services: NewsGator Online (FeedDemon was acquired by NewsGator Technologies in May 2005, so that's not exactly a surprise), and Bloglines. What this means is that if you find yourself away from your PC, you can check your feeds using your NewsGator Online or Bloglines account, and your tally of unread feeds will be current -- and when you go home, your FeedDemon listings will be current as well. And if you're an audiophile, you can use a tool called the FeedStation to pick up podcasts, drop them in a queue, and copy them to a media player.

Be aware that this is not your father's RSS reader. FeedDemon is not for the newbie, or for folks who check a couple of feeds once a week -- they are much better off using a simpler (free) RSS reader. However, if you're serious about your daily news and blog fix, and don't mind shelling out a quick $30, then FeedDemon will definitely feed your habit.

FeedDemon 2.0
NewsGator Technologies, Inc.
Price: $29.95
Summary: FeedDemon 2.0 is for news junkies who want to get their RSS feeds exactly how they want them.

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