As a long time user of RSS and Aggregators I have gone through several different feed clients. For the uninitiated RSS is a way to track blogs/news sources and via an aggregator keep informed of when sites are updated. Last year I switched from a software based aggregator to using Bloglines which is both free and internet based. I wanted to be able to easily access feeds on my main computer or laptop without having to worry about synchronization between two computers and a web based aggregator is perfect for that. I had looked at Bloglines sometime after it first came out, but at that point it wasn’t up to what I needed. Currently though it is very solid and lets you easily look at all the new posts for each folder that you setup. Unfortunately from time to time due to crashes or other circumstances when I would loose feeds when after I rebooted they had been marked as read and not easily available.
From time to time I would also look at Google Reader which is another web based aggregator, but earlier versions were not quite ready for prime time. That changed last week when after evaluating it again I imported all of my feeds into it to start using it on a daily basis and I must admit that I really like it.
One improvement it has over Bloglines is that you can see feeds as a "List view" where each line shows just the post title and information about the source and an "Expanded view"that will display the whole post (or an excerpt as defined by that sites blogging system). The problem I had sometimes with Bloglines is not a problem in Google Reader. When you select to see all updated feeds for a folder they are not marked automatically as read. Only as you click on the posts, or scroll past them are they marked, or you can click to set all as marked. You can also set to view the posts by oldest or newest. I do wish they could sort by post titles, since when you are looking at some feeds of multiple news sources it would be nice to be able to quickly discern when multiple news agencies are repeating the same story from a source such as AP.
I also really like the Next item button which has a keyboard shortcut to rapidly go through feeds brining each post up in display regardless of the current view you have selected. Currently I track 480 feeds where the large majority are Catholic blogs, news sources, and then tech and programming related feeds. Even with this massive amount of feeds I find I can go through them very rapidly and have found that via Google Reader I have become much more efficient in the amount of time.
Like Gmail, Google Reader has an option to set a particular post as starred. This is cool since you can do your blog/news reading and mark it as starred so that you can easily go back to it later. I believe Google Reader is still in Beta since they still call it Google Reader LABS, and the logo for the product seems to be temporary. Though Google is infamous for having something in Beta forever.
One thing that Bloglines had that I wish Google Reader had was that Bloglines reporting how many people were subscribe to a particular feed. It was cool to see blogs have their number of subscribers grow over time, plus the vanity in me liked seeing how many people were subscribed to my blog via Bloglines.
Now if I can only find a way for Google to hand me over some of their massive amounts of cash for writing a positive review of Google Reader.