I’m starting my series of reviews of news aggregators with FeedReader. FeedReader was the first tool that I used that really got me into news aggregation. After using FeedReader for the first time, I realized that I had to set up an RSS feed for this site because it was just so darn simple and effective. Sadly, I’ve since moved on past the application, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.

First, let me say that it’s the best application written by an Estonian that I’ve ever used. It also has a nice, clean, simple GUI and a rather nifty icon. It uses Windows bubble-style tooltips very well to inform you of updates to the feeds that you subscribe to, and it has a nice way of letting you know which feeds have been updated and which items in each feed are unread. All very cool.

The biggest problem with it is that the pre-release of FeedReader version 2.0 is buggy. Let me put this in perspective: I used the Milestone releases of Mozilla as my primary browser for months, and I think FeedReader 2.0 is still too buggy to use, although it’s fine to experiment with. The other problem I have with FeedReader is that there’s no preference that enables you to tell the program to open external links in a new window or in the application’s mini-browser. I never want to view links in the mini-browser because I use a bookmarklet in my browser for blogging, and I need access to it at all times. It’s a small problem, but nonetheless an important one.

Ultimately, I think that a stable version of FeedReader could be the most popular news aggregator out there, at least until RSS feed monitoring is built into Mozilla. It’s pretty, it’s easy to install, and it’s easy to use. It already does the neat “minimize to system tray” trick. If FeedReader were reasonably reliable, it would be the application I’d install on my mother’s computer (assuming she were interested in monitoring RSS feeds). Alas, this power user had to go another direction. Still, FeedReader is a damn fine application, and will be even better as the 2.0 release cycle progresses.